Cunningham Takes Out Papers

Ward 2 City Councilmember Paul Cunningham has filed his papers to run for a full term. An official announcement will come later.

Cunningham was on my indoor soccer team over a decade ago, and is likely still bragging about his being the leading scorer in the league. I would like to point out that several of those assists were mine.

Nurse Judy Clinco is still mulling a run in the Democratic primary. She wasn’t happy with the way the appointment process went for Cunningham, complaining that it was too political. I’m not sure what exactly what other approach she expected when a political body untertook a political appointment, but she’s entitled to her political opinion.

Despite all-but-actually-running for the last four years, observers say Republican Lori Oien is leaning against a making a go of it. Oien’s big issue in a campaign would likely be public safety, but that issue is hard to use against Cunningham since he has worked to save police and fire from many of the cuts that other departments are going to be hit with. This could change if the courts rule in time forcing the city to do ward only elections this cycle, but Oien was one of the few Republicans in recent memory to lose Ward 2 when she ran in 2007.

Jot and Tittle

I’ve often had people ask me about internal Democratic party matters and if I’m going to blog about them. Sometimes, they think I should, other times they are worried I will. For the most part, I’ve stayed away from doing so. You’ve no doubt noticed I’ve given only a shade more than token attention to the manueverings in the state chair’s race, for example. There are all kinds of reasons for this, the biggest being that it would bore the tar out of most of you.

Here’s an example. Earlier this week, our erstwhile opponents over at Sonoran Alliance published a post about a dispute within the Republican Party in Maricopa County. Here’s a sample:

Since we are basically a two-party country, was I wrong to think that that the real fight was between the Democrats and the Republicans or the liberals/progressives and conservatives. So lets go fight the good fight. But nooo….I must fight within my own party. Here is the truth as I know it for LD20. LD20 is the legislative district covering Ahwatukee, parts of Chandler and Tempe.

It goes on to describe a disputed election over vice chair in a legislative district club…for nearly 1300 words.

As uninterested y’all would be in reading that, I’d be even less interested in writing it.

Bob Usdane

Bob Usdane, who served as president of the Arizona State Senate from 1989-1991, has passed away.

That was a particular dicey time in Arizona politics, particularly within the Republican party. After having to work as majority leader during the impeachment of Evan Mecham, Usdane became Senate president with his party split between Mecham loyalists (the “Mechamites”) and more moderate Republicans. Add to that the AZScam scandal that came toward the end of his term. It is no wonder why he got out of politics for a few years before resurfacing as a candidate for Scottsdale Mayor earlier last decade.

A long time capitol watcher I talked to said that Usdane was always outgoing and friendly. He could be a bit overly cautious in his politics, but one railbird I spoke to gave him credit for working with Democrats on what became the AHCCCS program.

Evolving

Barack Obama has said that his views on gay marriage are “evolving,” and unfortunately some on our side have ridiculed this stance. But, he’s only reflecting something that many of us are doing on the issue. Joe Biden, who has taken the same stance as the President, has acknowledged that gay marriage is only a question of when.

I get it, because I’ve evolved on the issue and, yes, even my politically active gay friends have too. I remember having a conversation with a political activist friend back in the mid 90’s. At that point, gay marriage was a pipe dream, and the conversation among activists was about marriage-style rights and civil unions. His take was “Straights have their institutions, why would we want one of their institutions instead of creating our own?” I haven’t discussed the marriage issue with him lately, but I doubt he’d say anything of the kind now. I imagine that his views, yes, have evolved over the last few years.

When I first ran for state house in 2006, I knocked on the door of a lesbian couple. One asked me about marriage rights. Before I could answer, she said, “Never mind, I don’t want marriage. You straights have f****d that enough up already. Just give me the rights.” It was an opinion that seemed pretty common. And, it was, frankly, an easy stance to take for liberal political types like me that didn’t want to scare people by using the word “marriage.” Even people who were edgy about the word marriage because of their personal morals or religion were loath to deny the right of someone to visit their dying loved one in the hospital.

I’m amazed how the discussion has moved in the years since then. It may be because there are jurisdictions in this country where gay marriage is legal and the larger social order hasn’t fallen to pieces. Heck, if it’s legal in Iowa, how bad can it be, right? The arguments against gay marriage can’t withstand people seeing what a gay marriage actually looks like.

A week or so before Christmas, I got an e-mail from my friend Carolina inviting me to her house on Christmas afternoon where she was going to give a “special gift” to her long time girlfriend Angie. I’ve gotten enough invites like these to know that it was going to be an engagement party. It was touching and a lot of fun, since Angie genuinely didn’t know why all of us decided to show up at the house. Carolina has been dealing with a crippling illness for some time now, and has depended on Angie for much that the rest of us take for granted. I see a great deal of love that between the two of them that’s held through a trial that a lot of otherwise committed couples I know would collapse over. I don’t know why we have a society that would say, “Sorry, ladies, your kind of love just ain’t good enough.”

I Didn’t Say That, He Did

Jon Stewart, taking time out from his duties as the African-American member of the Green Lantern Corps, has introduced a new character on the Daily Show, puppet John McCain. TPM has details and video.

We at R-Cubed would never countenance such rude and foul gestures, and are only providing the photograph for scientific and research purposes.

Giffords Casts Vote Against Pelosi?

When I heard the news that Gabrielle Giffords was one of the nineteen Democrats that didn’t vote for Nancy Pelosi for speaker, I put a call in to Giffords spokesman C. J. Karamargin for some sort of response. He e-mailed it to me, and it is printed below.

This happens fairly often in the Democratic caucus, and I’ve never understood the reason for it. Is there a guy in Hereford who will be casting a vote in 2012 that says, “You know, I was going to vote for Frank Antenori, but hell, she voted against Pelosi!” I don’t quite get it, but what do I know, right?

Anyhow, the bulk of the breakaways voted for Heath Schuler, but Giffords took a different tack. She voted for civil rights hero and long time Georgia representative John Lewis. Lewis’s fellow Georgian John Barrow voted for him as well.

Congresswoman Giffords today cast a ceremonial vote in the process of confirming Rep. John Boehner as the next Speaker of the House of Representatives.

The congresswoman’s vote for Rep. John Lewis signaled her desire for courageous leadership and high moral standards at a critical time in our nation’s history. He is one of our nation’s most prominent civil rights leaders and a hero to all Americans.

John Lewis spent a lifetime standing up for the enduring values that sets our nation apart from all others. He is widely admired by his colleagues on both sides of the aisle and in both houses of Congress. Sen. John McCain, put it well in his 2004 book, “Why Courage Matters: the Way to a Braver Life.” Sen. McCain wrote that “John Lewis was as courageous as anyone could ever hope to be.”

In words and deeds, John Lewis should be a clear and bright guiding light for every member of Congress and every American. His integrity and civility is an example for us all.

CORRECTION: I got the count wrong in my original piece. The number of Democratic defectors has been changed to reflect this.

Worse Than They’ll Admit

Here’s a bit from today’s Tucson Sentinel:

Arizona’s true state budget deficit is $2.1 billion, more than triple the $825 million cited by Gov. Jan Brewer and Republicans in the Legislature, a new study estimates.

The study referred to here is yet another Morrison Institute study that will cause everyone to wring their hands except for the people who actually are responsible for writing our budget. Please, don’t burden them with numbers. Look, over there…an immigrant!

Horne Section

I’ve had a chance to look over the “finding” that Tom Horne released at the last minute that Tucson Unified School District’s ethnic studies program is in violation of the law he helped draft.

What struck me is that there is nothing new in the ten page document, which begs the question, why bother to do this as his last act? Was this some sort of emergency? I mean, did he really think that his successor, John Huppenthal, was going to somehow be softer on ethnic studies? Given that Huppenthal has pledged to go after cultural studies programs even at the university level, this is doubtful.

Well, it did give him a publicity boost, which is what this is really all about, isn’t it? He also chose to respond before the suit by supporters of ethnic studies was served, which may be a way to get his name on the suit rather than Huppenthal’s. One ethnic studies supporter told me that she thinks this previews some conflict between Horne and Huppenthal, which could damage their cause . I’m not holding out much hope. If anything, the two of them will be trying to out do each other on this one, and as we’ve seen with immigration issues in this state, that doesn’t end helping folks on the other side of the issue.

Interestingly, I heard a bit from Horne yesterday on NPR. The topic was the longstanding embarrassment over our lack of action on English language learners (note: Miriam Flores’s daughter is almost old enough to go to law school and try the case herself). Interestingly, Horne acknowledged that there are problems with the way ELL education is handled and wished that something could be done about it. Wow, imagine if he had put as much energy into fixing that one as he has on this ethnic studies jihad. Naw, helping immigrant kids doesn’t get you those primary votes the way scapegoating people does.