We are still five weeks from the 2020 primary election and already there appears to be jockeying for the Arizona governorship in 2022.

Last week Republicans on the Legislative Joint Budget Committee voted to redistribute $500,000 intended for Secretary of State Katie Hobbs. Instead of allowing the funds to be utilized by the secretary to promote information about upcoming elections, the committee majority voted to distribute the money directly to Arizona counties.

Cochise County, along with nine other counties, will now receive $25,000 as part of the federal Help America Vote Act. The measure was adopted in 2002 in part to address discrepancies during the election in 2000, when almost two million ballots were disqualified because they registered multiple votes or no votes when run through vote-counting machines.

We’re confident Cochise County will put the money to good use.

Not that Secretary Hobbs was suspect in how she intended to use the funds. Her office said it planned to buy radio and digital advertising aimed at curtailing election disinformation and to connect voters with county officials.

Reallocating the funds appears to have more to do with politics and less to do with serving the interests of the public. Some members of the Joint Budget Committee were told that Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich lobbied fellow GOP lawmakers to remove the spending request from the agenda, effectively delaying access to the funds.

Instead, the committee majority went ahead and redistributed the money, preventing the Secretary of State from spending any of the funds.

Hobbs, a Democrat, and Brnovich, are likely to oppose each other if they run for governor when the office becomes available after current Gov. Doug Ducey reaches his term limit in 2022.

We can imagine that the last thing the Attorney General wants is $500,000 of advertising that includes the tagline “…this message brought to you by Secretary of State Katie Hobbs,” during the current election cycle.

Voters need to be aware of these subtle maneuvers that often define the politics in Arizona. We doubt there will be significant negative consequences that result from shifting these funds to local counties, but the decision is emblematic of what promises to be an intense political battle when the campaigns for state offices kick off next year.

The overriding concern is allowing politics to be the priority over people and the public interest. When the “end justifies the means,” that’s when bad decisions are made and the interests of a political party supersede what’s best for the public.

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