I Think We Have a Talking Point

There’s that bit in the Arlo Guthrie song “Alice’s Restaurant” when he declares that three people singing in unison is a movement.

So, what about two similarly themed alarmist communiques from local Republican pooh bahs? A talking point, of course!

Below is the latest missive screed from member of the local Republican szlachta, John Munger. In it, he declares that Tucson is just like Selma circa 1959. He even goes so far as saying that “uppity” Republicans like him are being punished.

Yeah, he said “uppity.”

I usually try to have a hearty laugh at conservatives calling themselves victims. But Bruce Ash and John Munger claiming to be just like the guys that got their heads bashed in on the Edmund Pettus Bridge? There is something downright vomit inducing about a couple wealthy white guys making that comparison.

Munger, Ash and company can bloviate about the unfairness all they want, but the system Tucson has has survived several court challenges and Justice Department scrutiny (under both Republican and Democratic administrations). Also, the system elected in recent years Steve Kozachik, Kathleen Dunbar and Fred Ronstadt. All of them won city wide and all representing very Democratic wards that it is doubtful any could have been elected in. The dissatisfaction that elected Kozachik came close to electing two more Republicans, and could have had the local party been better organized to support their candidates. Heck, they might have done better in one race if they had recruited a decent candidate rather than making random phone calls to track down someone that would fill the ballot line.

The funny part is, if we went to a ward only system, you’d have four bulletproof wards likely electing very liberal candidates who would have no reason to moderate because they would never need to appeal to more conservative East Side voters. If that ever happened, Ash and Munger would likely come up with another whiny argument about how unfair life is to them and their buddies down at the country club.

Munger’s silliness is after the jump:

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What, Chip & Robbie, Nothing Happened This Week?

I was disappointed by this morning’s Political Insider column in the Arizona Republic. Yeah, most of the time, it is written too smugly (it is, after all, a “tounge-in-cheek look at Arizona politics”). This morning, the column consisted of one item, a short one too, about Rep. David Burnell Smith’s campaign finance woes. This is old news, really. The only question right now is how far along does this get before a judge orders the capitol police to clear Smith’s office. Still left unexplored by our state’s flagship paper is the connection that Smith has with political consultant Constantine Querard. Querard also did work for serveral other legislators, many of whom have also had their campaign finances scrutinized.

That would be too much to ask.

Well, I know that I shouldn’t expect incisive investigative journalism from what is, in essence, a gossip column. But, we live in a state of four million people and this week this is the only item that was worth mentioning? Egads.

Here’s an item that they could have mentioned: Rep. Jack Jackson Jr. is making noises about running against US Rep. Rick Renzi. Jackson represented a large swath of northern Arizona but didn’t choose to run for re-election last year. His candidacy would gain national attention since Renzi is in one of the few “swing” districts in the country, and also because Jackson is openly gay and Navajo.

Jackson would be the first Native American to represent Arizona should he win, but the second openly gay congressman, although Rep. Jim Kolbe didn’t come out until he had served several terms. I think that Jackson would be the only Native American in congress since Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell left office.

It is hard to know if the “gay thing” would be a problem for him. Also, in some of the areas of the district there is tension going on between anglos and native americans over water issues. If Jackson thought that either one of these things was going to sink his candidacy, he’d choose not to run at all. I don’t know him that well, although my brother seemed to enjoy working with him in the legislature. He doesn’t strike me as a guy that would just do this on a lark. If he’s going to do it, it’s only after he’s figured out a way to win.

(NB – Thanks to Jane at Arizona Congress Watch for the heads up on this. I also found an article in the Navajo Times about a possible run by Jackson.)

The candidates are now lined up for this year’s city council election. The candidates turned in their nominating petitions this week. Some of us who follow this way too closely like to look at the number of signatures and try to read something into them. The number of signatures turned in can tell you whether or not a candidate has a decent organization. It can get a bit more complex than that, for example, a candidate can pay signature gatherers and not have any grass roots support. So, take what you will from these numbers.

In Ward 3, a Democrat needs 271 signatures, and Karin Uhlich turned in the maximum, 541. Republican incumbent Kathleen Dunbar needed a minimum of 145, and turned in 245, 1 and 2/3 times what she needed.

In Ward 5, long time Democratic Councilmember Steve Leal turned in his maximum 422, he only needed to turn in 211. His opponent Vernon Walker only needed turn in 58 (!), he turned in 102, just shy of twice what he needed. Expect there to be a challenge, given the low number of signatures involved.

Both Democratic challengers in Ward 6, Nina Trasoff and Steve Farley, turned in the maximum of 872 signatures, twice the minimum. Councilmember and Oprah Guest Fred Ronstadt had to turn in at least 234, but turned in 350.

In each case, the Democratic candidates collected far more than the maximum, they just didn’t turn them in (signatures over the maximum can’t be considered for filing). This gives them a chance to go through their petitions and make absolutely sure they are only turning in good signatures. Not so with the Republican candidates. Expect their petitions to be looked over and at least one attempt to get a candidate bounced from the ballot.

Wouldn’t it be awful if Dunbar or Ronstadt couldn’t run for re-election? One can always hope.

West Quits Party

It was officially announced yesterday that Councilmember Carol West has officially changed from being a Democrat to an independent. This move probably shouldn’t effect any of the day to day activities of the council, since it is not organized on a partisan basis. The only thing it may do is allow West to be more open about her support for Republicans Fred Ronstadt and Kathleen Dunbar. There had already been griping from at least one council candidate that she had been helping Ronstadt.

I have no personal problems with Carol West. She seems like a very nice woman and we always have pleasant conversations. However, she threw in with the Republicans on the council; she threw in big with them. She didn’t act as a moderate, someone who both sides could go to and would provide a swing vote. She acted only as a fourth vote for whatever Rondstadt, Dunbar and Walkup wanted. A responsible moderate would be someone who would vote against the more extreme positions, keep Fred and Kathleen honest. She was just a rubber-stamp. Even on issues where it should have been easy for a Democrat to vote yes, like asking Kinder-Morgan to build in a new place so gasoline wouldn’t rain down on neighborhoods, she took the “All Businessmen Can Do What They Want and Damn the Residents” Republican side.

A few years ago, there was an attempted settlement with Eller Media over the ongoing billboard lawsuits. The settlement was deeply flawed, and it prompted me to send faxes to several council members (I didn’t bother with Fred). I recieved calls from a couple of members, including West. The calls from the other council members would be questions about the settlement and what I thought of this or that. First question from West was, “How did you know about this?” I told her I had some sources. Why was that the question, rather than the substance of the fax?

By the way, the deal was killed, not by West being a swing vote, but by Bob Walkup telling Ronstadt what a horrible idea it was.

The dearth of coverage of this has been interesting. It got covered in the Tucson Citizen, but didn’t make it into C. J. Karamargin’s weekly column or the Star. It also did not make the Tucson Weekly’s political columns. Either the local media realizes that Carol hadn’t been working with the Democrats for a long time, or once again, they don’t give a rat’s ass about local politics.

I liked Carol’s husband Neil, who did a great deal of work for the local party. It looks like I’m going to get his slot on the State Committee.