Oct 13, 2020

Heading into the highest-stakes election of our lifetimes, The Appeal launched a newsletter called Our Future on the Ballot covering insurgent candidates across the country, their elections, and what’s at stake.

In today’s issue, we’ll cover:

  • Maricopa County, Arizona, voters want a county prosecutor who will pledge not to prosecute women for seeking an abortion. Challenger Julie Gunnigle made that pledge. The incumbent, Allister Adel, refused to do the same.

  • Plus: Flipping the Arizona legislature from Red to Blue; marijuana legalization on the ballot in four states; TX Congressional candidate Julie Oliver whips out the whiteboard to breakdown healthcare costs; and more news from around the country.

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  • A STARK CHOICE — In Maricopa County, Arizona, which has a population of 4.5 million people and includes Phoenix, America’s 6th most populous city, the race for County Attorney pits an incumbent prosecutor, Allister Adel, who has said she has an “ethical and legal obligation to enforce” laws criminalizing abortion, against a challenger, Julie Gunnigle, who has said she would not prosecute a woman’s healthcare decisions.

  • ROE V. WADE IN THE BALANCE — As confirmation hearings continue for Amy Coney Barrett, it is all but certain that there will soon be a 6-3 conservative majority on the U.S.  Supreme Court. The composition of the Court strongly suggests that Roe v Wade, the landmark case protecting a woman’s right to choose, is at risk of being overturned. That’s particularly frightening in Arizona, which still has extreme laws on the books that criminalize abortion and restrict access to contraceptives.

  • NEW POLL — A new polling memo from The Justice Collaborative Institute and Data for Progress, finds that a bipartisan majority of Maricopa County voters — 71% of Democrats and 51% of Republicans — would be more likely to vote for a prosecutor who pledges not to prosecute women for seeking an abortion:

  • IN HER OWN WORDS — Here is Julie Gunnigle, who while at Notre Dame Law School, had Amy Coney Barrett as a professor, talking about what this Maricopa County Attorney race means for reproductive rights:

  • CURRENT PROSECUTORS AGREE WITH GUNNIGLE — Over 40 elected county prosecutors and state Attorneys General recently signed an open letter, organized by Fair and Just Prosecution, expressing concern over a wave of attempts by Republican-controlled legislatures to pass restrictive abortion laws even with Roe v. Wade intact. Pledging to use their discretion to not prosecute women for their health care decisions, these elected prosecutors wrote:

“Not all of us agree on a personal or moral level on the issue of abortion. And not all of us are in states where women’s rights are threatened by statutes criminalizing abortion. What brings us together is our view that as prosecutors we should not and will not criminalize healthcare decisions such as these – and we believe it is our obligation as elected prosecutors charged with protecting the health and safety of all members of our community to make our views clear.”


  • Marijuana Legalization On The Ballot: The Appeal published an examination of ballot initiatives in Arizona, New Jersey, South Dakota, and Montana that would legalize marijuana for recreational use. Only Arizona’s initiative would directly tackle racial justice and invest in communities harmed by drug enforcement laws.

  • Eliseo Santana: Running for Sheriff. Pinellas County Sheriff candidate Eliseo Santana joined The Appeal to talk about his bid to become the Florida county’s top law enforcement official:

  • Turning Arizona Blue: The Appeal’s Meg O’Connor explores Democrats’ opportunity to break the Republican trifecta in Arizona for the first time in more than a decade, if they successfully flip two House seats and three Senate seats in next month’s election.

  • Primary Challengers Shaking Up Democratic Politics: In a recent episode with The Appeal, three insurgent candidates primarying sitting establishment Democrats in Minnesota, New York, and Oklahoma legislative races discuss how and why the party establishment is failing to meet the needs of working and vulnerable people.

  • Endorsement Alert: Kara Eastman, a social worker running to represent Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District, was endorsed by Black Omaha leadership yesterday. Eastman’s Racial Justice Plan calls for systems-level changes like the implementation of universal healthcare, investing in Black and Brown communities, and demilitarizing the police. Meanwhile, her opponent, Rep. Don Bacon, refused to acknowledge the existence of systemic racism in a recent debate.

  • Endorsement Alert: The Austin American Statesman endorsed congressional challenger Julie Oliver, a lawyer and healthcare expert, who, as a teenage mother, relied on Medicare.

  • Speaking of Julie Oliver: She has 20 years of healthcare finance experience, and over the weekend, explained with a whiteboard and marker how to lower property taxes and provide medical care for all. Watch it here: