The state capital of Arizona is Phoenix. The original Capitol building, with its distinctive copper dome, was dedicated in 1901 (construction was completed for $136,000 in 1900), when the area was still a territory. Phoenix became the official state capital with Arizona's admission to the union in 1912.
The House of Representatives and Senate buildings were dedicated in 1960, and an Executive Office Building was dedicated in 1974 (the ninth floor of this building is where the Office of the Governor is located). The original Capitol building was converted into a museum.
The Capitol complex is fronted and highlighted by the richly landscaped Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza, named after Wesley Bolin, a governor who died in office in the 1970s. Numerous monuments and memorials are on the site, including the anchor and signal mast from the USS Arizona (one of the U.S. Navy ships sunk in Pearl Harbor), a granite version of the Ten Commandments, and the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
State legislative branch
The Arizona Legislature is bicameral (like the legislature of every other state except Nebraska) and consists of a thirty-member Senate and a 60-member House of Representatives. Each of the thirty legislative districts has one senator and two representatives. Legislators are elected for two-year terms.
Each Legislature covers a two-year period. The first session following the general election is known as the first regular session, and the session convening in the second year is known as the second regular session. Each regular session begins on the second Monday in January and adjourns sine die (terminates for the year) no later than Saturday of the week in which the 100th day from the beginning of the regular session falls. The President of the Senate and Speaker of the House, by rule, may extend the session up to seven additional days. Thereafter, the session can only be extended by a majority vote of members present of each house. The current majority party is the Republican Party, which has held power in both houses since 1993.
Arizona state senators and representatives are elected for two year terms and are limited to four consecutive terms in a chamber, though there is no limit on the total number of terms. When a lawmaker is term-limited from office, it is not uncommon for him or her to run for election in the other chamber.
The fiscal year 2006–07 general fund budget, approved by the Arizona Legislature in June 2006, is slightly less than $10 billion. Besides the money spent on state agencies, it also includes more than $500 million in income- and property tax cuts, pay raises for government employees, and additional funding for the K–12 education system.
State executive branch
Arizona’s executive branch is headed by a governor, who is elected to a four-year term. The governor may serve any number of terms, though no more than two in a row. Arizona is one of the few states that does not maintain a governor’s mansion. During office the governors reside within their private residence, and all executive offices are housed in the executive tower at the state capitol. The current governor of Arizona is Jan Brewer (R). She assumed office after Janet Napolitano had her nomination by Barack Obama for Secretary of Homeland Security confirmed by the United States Senate. Arizona has had four female governors including the current Governor Jan Brewer, more than any other state.
Other elected executive officials include the Secretary of State, State Treasurer, State Attorney General, Superintendent of Public Instruction, State Mine Inspector and a five member Corporation Commission. All elected officials hold a term of four years, and are limited to two consecutive terms (except the office of the state mine inspector, which is exempt from term limits).
Arizona is one of eight states that does not have a specified lieutenant governor. The secretary of state is the first in line to succeed the governor in the event of death, disability, resignation, or removal from office. The line of succession also includes the attorney general, state treasurer and superintendent of public instruction. Since 1977, four secretaries of state and one attorney general have risen to Arizona's governorship though these means.
Current elected officials
• Governor of Arizona: Jan Brewer (R) (succeeded to office)
• Secretary of State: Ken Bennett (R) (appointed to office)
• Attorney General: Terry Goddard (D)
• State Treasurer: Dean Martin (R)
• Superintendent of Public Instruction: Tom Horne (R)
• State Mine Inspector: Joe Hart (R)
• Corporation Commissioners: Gary Pierce (R), Kristin Mayes (R), Bob Stump (R), Sandra D. Kennedy (D), and Paul Newman. (D)
State judicial branch
The Arizona Supreme Court is the highest court in Arizona. The court currently consists of one chief justice, a vice chief justice, and three associate justices. Justices are appointed by the governor from a list recommended by a bi-partisian commission, and are re-elected after the initial two years following their appointment. Subsequent re-elections occur every six years. The supreme court has appellate jurisdiction in death penalty cases, but almost all other appellate cases go through the Arizona Court of Appeals beforehand. The court has original jurisdiction in a few other circumstances, as outlined in the state constitution. The court may also declare laws unconstitutional, but only while seated en banc. The court meets in the Arizona Supreme Court Building at the capitol complex (at the southern end of Wesley Bolin Plaza).
The Arizona Court of Appeals, further divided into two divisions, is the intermediate court in the state. Division One is based in Phoenix, consists of sixteen judges, and has jurisdiction in the Western and Northern regions of the state, along with the greater Phoenix area. Division Two is based in Tucson, consists of six judges, and has jurisdiction over the Southern regions of the state, including the Tucson area. Judges are selected in a method similar to the one used for state supreme court justices.
Each county of Arizona has a superior court, the size and organization of which are varied and generally depend on the size of the particular county.
Arizona is divided into political jurisdictions designated as counties. As of 1983 there were 15 counties in the state, ranging in size from 1,238 to 18,661 square miles.
Arizona's two United States Senators are John McCain (R), the 2008 Republican Presidential Nominee, and Jon Kyl (R).
Arizona's representatives in the United States House of Representatives are Ann Kirkpatrick (D-1), Trent Franks (R-2), John Shadegg (R-3), Ed Pastor (D-4), Harry Mitchell (D-5), Jeff Flake (R-6), Raul Grijalva (D-7), and Gabrielle Giffords (D-8). Arizona gained two seats in the House of Representatives due to redistricting based on Census 2000.
From statehood through the late 1940s, Arizona was primarily dominated by the Democratic Party. During this time period, the Democratic candidate for the presidency carried the state each election, with the only exceptions being the elections of 1920, 1924 and 1928—all three of which were national Republican landslides.
Since the election of Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952, however, the state has voted consistently Republican in national politics, with the Republican candidate carrying the state every time with the sole exception of Bill Clinton in United States presidential election, 1996. In recent years, the Republican Party has also dominated Arizona politics in general. The fast-growing Phoenix and Tucson suburbs became increasingly friendly to Republicans from the 1950s onward. During this time, many "Pinto Democrats," or conservative Democrats from rural areas, became increasingly willing to support Republicans at the state and national level. However, the previous Governor of Arizona, Janet Napolitano is a Democrat; she was handily reelected in 2006.
On March 4, 2008, John McCain effectively clinched the Republican nomination for 2008, becoming the first presidential nominee from the state since Barry Goldwater in 1964.
Arizona politics are dominated by a longstanding rivalry between its two largest counties, Maricopa County and Pima County--home to Phoenix and Tucson. The two counties have almost 80 percent of the state's population and cast almost three-fourths of the state's vote. They also elect a substantial majority of the state legislature.
Maricopa County is home to almost 60 percent of the state's population, and most of the state's elected officials live there. It has voted Republican in every presidential election since 1948. This includes the 1964 run of native son Barry Goldwater; he wouldn't have even carried his own state had it not been for a 20,000-vote margin in Maricopa County. Similarly, while McCain won Arizona by eight percentage points in 2008, the margin would have likely been far closer if not for a 130,000-vote margin in Maricopa County.
In contrast, Pima County, home to Tucson, and most of southern Arizona has historically been more Democratic. While Tucson's suburbs lean Republican, they hold to a somewhat more moderate brand of Republicanism than is common in the Phoenix area.
Arizona rejected an anti-gay marriage amendment in the 2006 midterm elections. Arizona was the first state in the nation to do so. Same-sex marriage was already illegal in Arizona, but this amendment would have denied any legal or financial benefits to unmarried homosexual or heterosexual couples.
In 2008, Arizona passed an amendment to the state constitution to define marriage as a union of one man and one woman.