Why Now for Bivens?

I’ve had the chance to talk to some politicos about Don Bivens and his decision to drop out of the race this morning.

Some folks thought that he should have taken his name out back when Richard Carmona declared in November. It made sense for Bivens not to do that back then. After all, he had already assembled a strong campaign team (Democratic pros Reed Adamson and Jamie Paton were on board) and had a decent list of endorsers. Given Carmona’s reluctance to get in the campaign and rushed roll-out, Bivens had good reason to think that the guy wasn’t going to be the real deal.

Back then, by the way, there was talk that some party elder woud talk Bivens out of running. I haven’t heard that that actually happened, but Ann Kirkpatrick backing off of her endorsement and increasing attention being given to Carmona made much the same point.

Many of the folks I talked to pointed out that the reporting period is just about up and that Bivens’s report wasn’t going to look that great. We won’t know this for sure until reports are posted.

The more likely reason, and it’s the reason alluded to in Bivens own exit statement, is that he had only one path to the nomination: trash Carmona and spend a lot of money doing it. Bivens stepped just short of that line, trying to bill himself as the real Democrat against the independent that worked for George W. Bush, questioning Carmona’s commitment to Democratic issues. The message wasn’t working, and ratcheting it up would have crossed that line between contrast and negativity. Such a “scorced earth” campaign would have left one of two nominees: a broke Don Bivens or a tattered Richard Carmona. Neither would have been good for the party.

I was a vocal critic of Bivens during his time as party chair (that was me that printed the “Eckerstrom” stickers in 2009), but it looks like he took one for the team here.

Carmona on Bivens

Richard Carmona’s campaign released the following statement in response to Don Bivens dropping out of the US Senate race:

Don Bivens is a cornerstone of the Arizona Democratic Party and will remain so for years to come. An agent of change for our state, Don knew how great of an opportunity we have to win this seat and knew that it would take a strong and united effort to do so. He and his team ran a strong race that showed a great deal of respect for the nominating process which in turn has improved our party’s chance of success in November.

I thank Don, his family and his campaign team for their selfless service to the party and eagerly anticipate working with them to move Arizona forward. He will be an integral player in any winning strategy and I look forward to working with him in the months ahead.

Bivens Out

Statement issued by the Don Bivens campaign this morning:

The continuing head-to-head competition of our Democratic primary is draining resources that we will need as a Party to win the U.S. Senate race in November. While I am confident we would win this primary, the cost and impact on the Party I’ve spent my life fighting for could diminish our chance to achieve the ultimate goal: winning in November. My overriding commitment has always been to Democratic principles first – the cause of middle-class families. My stepping aside in the Senate race at this point in no way diminishes my family’s fight to work for these common goals, now and in the future.

Yep, It’s About Shaming Folks

Terri Proud’s e-mail to a constituent on an abortion law she’s pushing shouldn’t be too surprising. This is not, and never was, about making sure women are informed. It’s about shaming people who don’t share Proud’s moral viewpoint.

Hey, Proud is pro-life. Good for her. Well, why not write a law banning abortion in Arizona? You’ve got a legislature that would pass it, a governor that would sign it and a US Supreme Court that would probably uphold it.

Of course, they’ve made a political choice. They’d rather keep the issue and keep their base excited. Pass a law curtailing reproductive rights here and there, just enough to keep their supporters excited but not enough to get the majority of Arizonans mad enough to do something about it. Talk about women being “fully informed,” all the while hoping that the winks towards the right are enough to keep getting re-elected. Hey, if you don’t want to ban abortion and access to brith control, why not just shame those “immoral” people by making them tell their employers or subjecting them to humiliating tests? Nothing is an easier political sell than to shame folks that are unpopular with your base.

I’m glad to see Rep. Proud admitting it.


One bright spot I’ve seen in the current argument is that Democrats have not been shy about joining it. I wish there was a little bit more of this when SB 1070 passed.

I was amazed at how many congressional candidates sent out press releases on this, not a national issue but a state one. The senate candidates have gotten involved too. Richard Carmona wrote a piece in Huffington Post about Nancy Barto’s bill, and Don Bivens is running this ad:

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.

From the Competing Narratives Desk

Video released by the Richard Carmona (I’m sorry…Rich Carmona) campaign today:

Also, the Carmona folks are touting their rather impressive fundraising total: $570,000 last quarter. Carmona’s primary opponent, Don Bivens has his own number that he’s been putting out there: 1200 individual donors.

Bivens will likely not match Carmona’s fundraising total, but his messaging here is telling. He’s been selling himself to Democratic activists as the guy that whose views they already know, and calling to a sense of populism against the big money plays into that.

 He seems to have dropped the attempt to question Carmona’s pro-choice credentials, but one almost expects him to start talking up “the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.” His people are not shy to point out that Carmona’s first political prominence outside of Southern Arizona was working for George Bush’s administration.

Carmona, on the other hand, is trying to build a narrative of both inevitability and electibility. It looks as though he’s already got one eye on the general electorate. The video has some nice touches for Democratic audiences, but has a lot more for independents.

Bivens will get outspent, we all know that. The test will come when the official numbers get released. We know he has a good team, but will he be able to keep raising, not more, but enough money to compete?

Is Jason Rose Going Soft?

When he isn’t keeping us informed of the restaurant scene in the Valley of the Jakes, Jason Rose  uses his Twitter feed to treat us to political analysis. By “political analysis,” I mean overblown cheerleading for even the most minor league Republicans (Vernon Parker, anyone?) and casual dismissal of the importance of any politician that doesn’t genuflect in his direction with the proper amount of gusto.

But, I’ve detected a change. Here is Rose this morning:

Well done secretary salazar:why do anything to infringe on #grandcanyon? Too, single biggest economic generator in #arizona besides weather

Extra adverb aside, I’m glad to have an ally on the other side on this. Doubly so because it seems that the rest of the Republican establishment that Rose runs with are doing everything but grabbing shovels and learning the proper spelling of pitchblende.

I’d dismiss this as “Rose must not have gotten the contract with the uranium mines,” except here’s another Tweet from this weekend:

Should I stay or should I go? Don bivens really to clash w/ perhaps best bio (carmona) 2 ever run 4 #arizona office? Top democrats say no

Wait, did he just say that Richard Carmona has the best bio to ever run for Arizona office? First off, what about Buckey O’Neill? More importantly, did he just have high praise, highest praise even, for a Democratic candidate?

Is Rose broadening his horizons or has he had enough of some of the clowns he runs with?

Carmona at my District Club

Richard Carmona’s campaign is still relatively new, and I think last night’s appearance at the District 28 Democratic Club is his first time addressing a Democratic Party group.

First off, the quote of the night:

I grew up swimming in the Harlem river. It’s why I’m so healthy. I was exposed to every imaginable pathogen early.

The Democratic activists in the room peppered him with questions. One was on the Rosemont Mine. At first, it looked like I would not be satisfied with his answer: he admitted to not thinking about it very much. Then, he went through a detailed explanation about how his thought process would be in weighing short-term economic benefits with the long term environmental consequences. He also said he’d like to hear how the company would perform remediation of the area after the mine plays out in ten years. I would have prefered a definitive “Hell, no,” but I’m happy to hear that environmental issues are a huge part of his thinking on the issue.

And, frankly, I think his thinking would lead him to the same conclusion about the mine that Gabrielle Giffords, Raúl Grijalva and I have.

He was also asked about global warming. He talked of being invited to a meeting during his time with the Bush administration. When the issue was brought up, Carmona talked about the evidence for human impact on climate and noted that the only controversy among scientists was the degree of that impact. He noted that he never got invited back to those meetings.

He was asked about health care, of course. He resisted the temptation to endorse any specific kind of plan, but would like to start with an agreement that all people deserve a certain level of health care.

Interestingly, there was not one question on his position on reproductive choice. Don Bivens’s campaign has been quietly sowing doubts about Carmona’s support for abortion and access to birth control. It could be this audience, politically active Tucsonans, was already familiar with Carmona’s actual record on the issue.

His answers were long. Not rambling, but longer than some audiences and formats would tolerate. That sort of thing is meat and drink for Democratic party activists, but hopefully he’s working on more concise, quick off his feet stuff for later in the campaign. I imagine that Bivens, given his experience as party chair, has that sort of thing down. And Jeff Flake? That goes without saying.

Given Carmona’s background, I expected a bit more skepicism and tougher questions from the audience. I don’t know whether to chalk this up to pragmatism or deference to a home town boy.

(Nearly) Entire Tucson City Council Endorses Carmona

Richard Carmona’s campaign has announced that the entire Tucson City Council has endorsed him.

And by that they mean six council members, even Republican Steve Kozachik. Here is Kozachik from the release:

I know Dr. Carmona as a man of integrity, a high achiever, a man of compassion for the underserved and a man who has been giving back to the Tucson and Pima County for decades. Since he is running for the U.S. Senate as a Democrat, from a political standpoint, I don’t have a dog in that fight.

And yet, from the standpoint of wanting to see a person emerge from that primary who I believe would best represent us with a set of values that very much mirror my own, I most certainly have a dog in that fight. Dr. Carmona is Southern Arizona’s own local hero. I’m honored to be associated with a person of his caliber.

Karin Uhlich notes that Carmona believes that “government should not interfere with the private medical decisions between a woman and her doctor,” a statement likely made to blunt the questions raised by Don Bivens’s campaign about Carmona’s commitment to reproductive choice.

By the way, the Carmona folks don’t seem to be counting among members of the council newly sworn in Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, who has yet to endorse. Maybe they haven’t read the city charter.

Full release after the jump.

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First in Phoenix?

I talked to someone up in Phoenix the other day and asked him about which of his fellow Maricopa politicos will be the first to endorse Richard Carmona. You may recall that last week, Don Bivens released a list of endorsers that included former Tucson area legislator Nancy Young Wright.

My source said to look to two Phoenix city council members: Michael Nowakowski and the newly elected Daniel Valenzuela. Both of them have active campaign organizations that would help any candidate in a primary, so they wouldn’t just be names on a list. They are also both people who would not necessarily be wowed by the fact that Bivens used to be party chair.