Racetracks Run Odd Campaign

The Coalition for Arizona, a political committee made up of the owners of Phoenix Greyhound Park and Turf Paradise, a thoroughbred horse track in north Phoenix, began their campaign in September with the introduction of "Joe Arizona" at a news conference. Joe, the fictional front man for Prop 201, was actually Nick Tarr, a local comedian. Tarr was featured in a saturation media campaign that started with television ads showing Joe standing at a podium in front of a backdrop of the Grand Canyon, shouting Prop 201's campaign slogan: "Do the Math." The math referred to is the racetracks' claim that Prop 201 would generate $300 million a year for the state. The "Grand Canyon" backdrop turned out to be a well-known canyon in Moab, Utah.

Within days of Joe's television debut, The Arizona Republic reported that Joe's math was "fuzzy" and that Prop 201 would only raise $43 million for the state. By late October, Prop 201was polling at only 21 percent, and the racetrack coalition began bashing Indian gaming. In a final desperate attempt to sway voters, the racetracks began running quarter-page ads in the state's newspapers featuring the Energizer Bunny© banging his drum against Prop 202. The Eveready Battery Co., Inc. was not amused and sued the Coalition for copyright infringement.

The use of the Energizer Bunny stunned volunteers of the Arizona Greyhound Protection Alliance. Just weeks earlier, an Arizona greyhound breeder had been charged with using live rabbits to train greyhounds after state racing officials completed its surveillance investigation of his farm. One rescued bunny under the care of the Southern Arizona Humane Society in Tucson made local Phoenix headlines and was featured on two local network news shows.

Victory for Greyhounds
The campaign strategy of the Alliance, developed by Nichols-Young, targeted the dog-loving community by leafleting at dog parks. Ten thousand flyers were copied and handed out to dog owners statewide urging them to: "Vote NO on Prop 201 - Do it for the Dogs." Large 3-ft. by 4-ft. signs posted throughout the state asked voters to "Do the Real Math." Many of the signs, especially those in Tucson and Apache Junction were torn down soon after they went up. The Tucson signs were replaced and Alliance volunteers kept a constant watch over them until Election Day.

The defeat of Prop 201 keeps the defunct Yuma and Black Canyon dog tracks closed. During its 28 years of operation, the Yuma track's kennel compound and adjunct breeding and training farms were the scenes of horrific greyhound abuse cases, which caused the deaths of at least 60 dogs.