The Debate Over Debates

There are certain sillinesses that go on every election that remind us that, yes, it is time to exercise our franchise soon. For example, I got an e-mail from Ally Miller’s campaign alleging that Nancy Young Wright was messing with her signs.


One of the other biannual rituals is a candidate complaining that the other candidate will not debate them. The craziest is when a candidate agrees to several debates, but one particular debate invite being refused is a sign of a disrespect for the voters, hatred of our democratic process and a general lack of cojones.

Of course, once in a while you gotta ask if someone is ducking. Which brings us to the debate imbroglio between Jeff Flake and Richard Carmona.

Flake has agreed to a sum total of one debate
. Solitary. Singleton. Nada mas uno. What strikes me more than the number (once again, one) or refusal to have one outside of the greater Phoenix area is the length.

Half an hour.

That’s right, because the issues facing our nation can be handled in half an hour. By comparison, Jonathan Paton and Ann Kirkpatrick will be having three debates, the shortest of which will be an hour and a half. Heck, your typical Clean Elections forum featuring a couple of State Senate candidates will be longer.

So, what gives, Jeff?

Catching Up

All sorts of articles and links I have been meaning to comment on have come over the transom over the last few days. What better way to write a Friday morning post than to summarize…a précis, so to speak.

First off, Hispanic Politico had a piece yesterday proclaiming “Tea Party Republican Tom Horne set to retire?” Fun little story, I suppose, but don’t expect to happen any time soon. The story is based on a whackjob e-mail being circulated among tea party activists. The most interesting part of it is, despite the Horne’s crusade against ethnic studies, he’s got tea partiers that aren’t enamored with him.

Also this week, Ann Kirkpatrick’s campaign got a little bit of mileage from Jonathan Paton’s pledge to repeal the Affordable Care Act. He said this in an address to the Navajo Nation Council, and the act includes a reauthorization of the Indain Health Service.

I’d say “oops,” but given how much of the rhetoric against the ACA isn’t actually based on what’s in it (they are still talking “death panels), I don’t think it really matters to him or a lot of these candidates how they would deal with the issues that would come up if the act disappeared.

By the way, Paton still hasn’t risen above “on the radar”, despite being the leading candidate for the Republican nomination in an area that has been represented by Republicans in all but four years of the last two decades.

And finally, color me totally unshocked that Russell Pearce was sending racist e-mails. Cue the responses that there is not a single, solitary person with a racist bone in their body that is in any way involved in the anti-immigration movement. Yeah, it’s Randy Parraz sowing racial division by being all Hispanic and trilling the Rs in his last name.

In Patience to Abide…

Way back in 1974, Walter Mondale was mentioned as a presidential candidate. He decided against it giving as his reason his desire not to spend his nights sleeping in Holiday Inns.

Folks who don’t run are allowed to complain about what a pain in the nalgas running for office is, but people actually running? Nope: the campaign trail is a marvelous experience and their favorite part of being a politician. That’s what you are supposed to say, or else your opponent will have a chance to do something like this:

That should do wonders for him among the rural voters in the primary.

AFL-CIO Announces More Endorsements

A while back, the state AFL-CIO announced the endorsements of Raúl Grijalva, Ed Pastor and Gabrielle Giffords. Although the Giffords endorsement turned out to be moot, none of the names were surprising.

They released another set of federal endorsements today. They endorsed Richard Carmona for the US Senate over Don Bivens. Yep, Carmona is seen as a favorite in some circles (and, by the way, got the endorsement of former Governor Rose Mofford today), but Bivens has been selling himself as a populist alternative to the “establishment” candidate. Labor isn’t biting.

They also endorsed former Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick in the sprawling* CD 1. Wenona Benally-Baldenegro has also been trying to sell herself as the more progressive alternative, and has a better case in this respect than Bivens does against Carmona. She had the early endorsement of the United Steel Workers, which was a big get given Kirkpatrick’s strong advocacy of mining in Pinal County, but, as the sports guys say, she couldn’t convert when it came to the big endorsement. Yep, she’s running against a “Blue Dog,” but labor seemed to want to go with the person that has the stronger campaign and has won before.

(Post on Three Sonorans calling the AFL-CIO nasty names in three, two, one…)

The biggest surprise for me is in Congressional District 9 where they endorsed Kyrsten Sinema. Given how competitive the race is looking to be, I expected them to hold off for a bit.

* The North American Conference of Political Journalists and Bloggers recently passed a rule mandating that Arizona’s Congressional District 1 always be refered to as “sprawling.” This struck down an earlier rule mandating that the phrase “the size of Pennsylvania” always be used when desrcibing the district.

Aguirre for Congress?

There is talk afoot that former Yuma County legislator Amanda Aguirre may mount a primary challenge to Raúl Grijalva. One observer I talked to said that she is considering several options, including making a run in the Western Arizona district that includes northern Yuma County, or making a run for county supervisor.

Some of the talk includes a rumor that EMILY’s List is involved. One politico I’ve talked to, who has connections to EMILY’s List, doubts this. They’ve got their hands full with several other Western races, including Ann Kirkpatrick’s. They’d be less than interested in taking down an incumbent that’s been as good on their issues as Grijalva has been. Any contact they have with Aguirre, just like other contact they have with up and coming women in Southern Arizona, is more likely in the hopes that they can recruit a woman to run in 2014 should Grijalva, as some observers expect, not run.

Whatever else she’s counting on, Aguirre can’t count on geography being her best friend here. Back in the 2002 Democratic primary, Lisa Otondo had a first place showing in Yuma County. She garnered over a quarter of the vote in that year’s eight-way contest, but that was only enough to place fourth in the district over all. The district, as currently configured, even includes less of Yuma County.

Carmona v Bivens et Cetera

Today comes a story in The Hill headlined “Pentagon blasts Ariz. Senate candidate.” It’s about Richard Carmona’s resignation from the panel that was being set up to study what was going wrong at Dover Air Force Base. I don’t think “blasts” is the right word, but from the article, it sounds like DOD officials were unaware that Carmona was thinking of running for senate. Given how well documented his ruminations were for the past couple of months, it makes me wonder what other obvious things the Pentagon misses these days.

It gives you a reason or two why things like the current Dover scandal happen, eh?

So, on to Carmona v Bivens v Crowe v…I dunno who else.

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More Creativity from the Beltway

The National Republican Congressional Committee sent out a press release yesterday blasting Kyrstin Sinema. Here’s the headline:

Sinema Heads to Washington with Hopes of Being the Next Obama-Pelosi Rubber Stamp

Arizona Democrat Recruit Meets With Washington Party Leaders Who Hand-Picked Her to Push for the Failed Obama-Pelosi Agenda


They also sent out a press release blasting Andrei Cherny:

Cherny Heads to Washington with Hopes of Being the Next Obama-Pelosi Rubber Stamp

Arizona Democrat Recruit Meets With Washington Party Leaders Who Hand-Picked Him to Push for the Failed Obama-Pelosi Agenda

Look familiar? It should. The accompanying press release is exactly the same with the name “Cherny” substituted for “Sinema.”

Oh, and a third release hit my inbox:

Kirkpatrick Heads to Washington with Hopes of Being the Next Obama-Pelosi Rubber Stamp

Arizona Democrat Recruit Meets With Washington Party Leaders Who Hand-Picked Her to Push for the Failed Obama-Pelosi Agenda

This one is most laughable since Kirkpatrick’s record veered towards the “blue dog” wing of the party. It seemed that every release I got during her term was crafted to let me know that she was definitely not voting with that Obama guy. Of course, acknowledging that Kirkpatrick was there before would mean changing the template. Too much work.

You’d think that somewhere, issues that have something to do with Arizonans would fit into these press releases. Our high foreclosure rates, problems with employment and education…something. Maybe even something about the actual records of the candidates. Naw. That might mean finding out what goes on outside of Washington, you know, something that has to do with real people.

And Up North

Ann Kirkpatrick is hoping for a rematch next year in CD 1, or whatever the heck they plan on calling it. I usually note that the district is the size of Pennsylvania, because national media always seemed to find this the most fascinating tidbit about the district.

Kirkpatrick will be a formidable candidate, if for no other reason that she’s won before. While she was in congress, I would get press releases from her distancing herself from Barack Obama, even highlighting in stark terms her opposition to his policies on the border and the environment. That’s why I found it amusing that when she made her early announcement, one reason given for her being able to make a strong challenge was Obama’s presence on the ballot.

She won’t have a free ride in the primary, however. Wenona Benally Baldenegro made the rounds at the last Democratic State Meeting when it was held in Tucson a couple of weeks ago. She’s a Harvard educated attorney and member of the Navajo nation. She just announced the support of Steve Gallardo, Marcario Saldate and Johnny Naize. Her full press release is below:

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Thank You!

A hearty “thank you” from this humble blogger to Harry Mitchell, Raúl Grijalva, Gabrielle Giffords and Ed Pastor for voting yes on the DREAM Act yesterday. It passed the House, and will move to a Senate vote next week. In a story all too familiar, there are enough votes to pass the bill in the Senate, but not enough to break a the inevitable filibuster (this time promised by our own Jon Kyl).

Ann Kirkpatrick did not vote. I made a call to her DC office and left a message on the answering machine (did they clear out that quick?) asking why not. If I receive a response about the reason for this, I’ll let y’all know.

No big surprise that Trent Franks and John Shadegg voted no, but I was surprised about Jeff Flake’s no vote. Flake has been supportive of comprehensive immigration reform in the past, which angers a pretty hefty slice of his party. I read various blogs on both the right and left claiming that Flake was a co-sponsor of the bill, however he wasn’t listed as a current sponsor or even a withdrawn one (Those blogs, can’t believe any of them). Nonetheless, his previous talk about a path to citizenship raised hopes. His put out a statement about the need to couple legalization with other measures, but if you won’t even allow the least culpable a path to citizenship, who the heck are you willing to cut a break for?

NB – Although Flake was not, both Grijalva and Pastor were co-sponsors of the DREAM Act.