It’s GOTV weekend, so things get stupid

2014-10-31 17.05.12The stupidity has reached such a crescendo that I am violating my self-imposed blogging moratorium, or “quarantine,” as Chris Christie might call it.

I got a last minute hit piece on Ron Barber yesterday decrying his vote for the Ryan Budget.

Ah, where to begin on this.

First off, Ron Barber didn’t vote for the Paul Ryan budget. What he voted for was a budget deal negotiated by Patty Murray and Paul Ryan referred to as some as a “mini-budget deal.” It was not the Paul Ryan budget touted in his “Path to Prosperity” plan which is referenced every time a Republican candidate wants to feign seriousness about the budget. Most of the elements of Ryan’s budget were not in the deal, which led to a lot of grousing from conservatives at the time.

Even the people that sent out the mailer acknowledge that they don’t mean the actual Paul Ryan budget, but only in the fine print.

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Since it was not the Ryan Budget, many of the cuts decried in the piece (Medicare, Food Stamps) were not actually cut in the plan.

Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t a fan of this deal when it was made (although, predictably, my troubles are from the left). I also know it is far better than the Ryan Budget. As a matter of fact, the criticisms in the piece are spot on about the Ryan Budget. Say, what kind of “scary” candidate supports the Ryan Budget?

Oh yeah, Martha McSally.

Maybe this group that wanted to call out candidates for supporting the Ryan Budget will come on out and run a piece decrying her for being so scary. Say, who sent out this piece anyhow?

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I would welcome their opposition to Paul Ryan, but something tells me they aren’t very sincere about it.

POST SCRIPTS: I’ve got a couple of extra observations to throw in here.

  • Have you noticed how Republican candidates are quick to align themselves with the Ryan Budget, but cry foul when they get called out for supporting the details of the plan? It’s like they haven’t read the thing.
  • The mailer apparently went to Democratic voters. Independent voters are on a different mail program. This is a last ditch effort to peel liberal voters away from Barber. Given how poorly Matt Heinz did as the lefty challenger to Barber last time, I think more liberal voters have already resigned themselves to Barber’s pragmatism.
  • Oh, by the way: Ron Barber is a Trotskyite overspending Obama coddler and he supports this horrible, granny murdering, poor bashing budget? Could you guys pick a knock against the guy and stick with it?
  • I received this along with two mailers from my local Republican legislative candidate after I’ve already voted. Keep spending that money, boys.

What Was Weak Last Week

First off, any of you guys and gals realize that next week both Jan Brewer and Ken Bennett will be out of the state?

Normally I’d be giving a hearty “hip hip hooray” for la Cervecera being out of office, even if it’s temporarily. This time, however, the feeling is tempered by the fact that this means Tom Horne will be acting governor.

Anyhow, what little tidbits did I miss last week:

– Republican consultant Sam Stone and I are starting a new feature in the Tucson Sentinel, a little back and forth called the Sandbox.

That in it of itself isn’t weak, what’s weak is Matt Heinz campaign manager Evan Hutchison taking to the comment section to call the two of us “cowards.” This is apparently for acknowledging what everyone knows: Heinz is scheduled for a loss on Tuesday. Somehow, putting this on a website with our names on it is “cowardice.”

Hutchison also takes a shot at Stone for his exit from Martha McSally’s campaign. This means Hutchison did more research on Stone’s background than he did on Heinz’s before he tried to paint the guy as a progressive leader.

– Surprise surprise: there is more negative campaigning from Ken Cheuvront against Katie Hobbs. Cheuvront’s new tactic is a phone bank telling voters that Hobbs is supported by “special interests.” This is because the groups that have been paying for pro-Cheuvront mailers (The Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, the Arizona Association of Realtors and the Home Builders of Central Arizona) aren’t special interests at all, right?

– Remember when I wrote about the silliness of Martin Sepulveda taking an Onion-style article about Linda Lopez seriously? To recap, the photo in the article isn’t Lopez, and the article refers to an Arizona newspaper that doesn’t exist. Well, one reporter who is usually pretty good (so I’ll leave his name out) got wind of it from angry posts at his site, and called a friend of mine to find why Lopez would say such things to reporters. There is no limit to Tea Party outrage over something totally made up.

Color Nintz Skeptical

Martha McSally’s campaign released a poll this morning showing that they are only behind Ron Barber by five points.

Of course, it also shows Barber at 50%…meaning even if these numbers are true, if the election were held today, McSally could get most of the remaining votes and still lose.

(By the way, I hate that “if the election were held today…” trope. It isn’t today. Sorry for going there.)

I always have trouble with polls that get released that don’t have other questions to provide context. Things like presidential numbers and partisan breakdown can provide some context. These numbers weren’t included in the release.

It took the Tucson Weekly’s Jim Nintzel a call to find out what the missing partisan breakdown was: 38 Republican, 37 Democratic. It’s pretty close to the numbers in the district, but why leave them off? I chalk it up to sloppiness, which doesn’t cast a good light on the research.

Also sloppy: I start to have doubts when the firm in question can’t even get names spelled right. Gabrielle Giffords, not Gabriel. She’s been in the news an awful lot, fellas. You could have looked it up.

Nintzel points to another indicator that things may not be all rosy for McSally. Even though they have invested money in Jonathan Paton (who has not yet cleared his primary), they are still holding back on McSally. They may eventually spend money in the race, but the fact that they haven’t made that commitment shows that they have some doubts.


Que Weird

Politico is running a story about Martha McSally henchman Sam Stone offering unsolicited advice to a staffer for Ron Barber’s campaign.

The advice wasn’t exactly useful: that Barber was three points down, that the campaign needed to go after independents and Republican women and to campaign against Jesse Kelly on social issues.

The trouble with the advice was it was offered too late to be useful (the Thursday before the election), based on old polling and a bit obvious (what, Barber needs Republican and independent votes in a marginally Republican district? Why didn’t anyone tell us?). The one piece of advice that was different than what Barber was actually doing at the time was that Barber go after Kelly on choice. This was disregarded.

I’ve never met Sam Stone. My knowledge of him is second hand, so whether or not he’s particularly full of himself is an open question. However, there is a tendency for people in politics to want folks to know how smart and connected they are. Some of this behavior is manifested by, well, blogging. Other times, it means running one’s mouth a little too much in an attempt to impress people with who and what one knows.

I’m willing to chalk this up to Stone talking a bit too much out of school. His problem, and it’s McSally’s problem too, is it fits in with a growing narrative among Republican talkers that McSally and her operation may have been a bit too eager for Kelly to lose. There were rumors the weekend before the election about McSally’s campaign encouraging supporters to vote for Barber to set her up for the September primary. I have my doubts that it happened, and even if it did, it could not have accounted for more than a tiny fraction of the 14,000 votes that Barber won by.

Still, the currency that these stories have among such activists can’t be good for McSally. Add that to this latest story and the sometimes thinly disguised disdain that some moderate Republican leaders had for Kelly during the election, and you have the makings of a “McSally torpedoed Kelly” story. Not a good place to start her campaign.

Here’s an indicator: I don’t always check Politico. I found out about this story when it was Tweeted by conservative website Gila Courier with a demand that McSally’s campaign respond.

Advice to up and coming politicos that want to impress people with their insider knowledge: talk all you want, just don’t write anything down.

NB: The Tucson Sentinel has an even more detailed story.

What Do You Know? I Was Wrong. So Rare.

As it turns out, Jesse Kelly won’t run for the full term after all. This from the Tucson Sentinel:

“Looking at the results from Tuesday, we have decided to withdraw from the race for Congress in AZ-02 and to seek other opportunities,” Kelly said in the emailed statement.

Martha McSally still has a primary opponent (I believe his name is Huda Helizdat), but this likely sets up a contest between McSally and Ron Barber in November.

Yes, that means I don’t see Matt Heinz winning the Democratic nomination. Then again, I was wrong about Kelly staying in.

Whose House?

It looks like eight points for Ron Barber. Too big a margin for claims of illegal aliens being bussed in, I suppose.

So, what next for Jesse Kelly? He’s going to announce his plans about staying in the race for the full term over the next few days.

My bet is he stays in. Let’s face it, humility and self examination are not the man’s strong points. As for some sort of sit down with local Republican potentates to convince him to get out in favor of Martha McSally, I don’t think it would do the trick. These are the some of the same folks who supported Jonathan Paton in 2010 and other non-Kelly candidates in the very special 2012 primary.

The thing to remember about what ever case Kelly looks to make for a re-run: he’ll be running in a district that is less Republican than the one he just lost in.

How would a Kelly-McSally primary look? Frank Antenori took some shots at McSally when she wasn’t familiar with some issues near and dear to Republican hearts. I don’t know how much these attacks stuck since Antenori seemed to only have a buck ninety-five to run his campaign. It’s a good line of attack for Kelly, who would actually have the resources to get it out there.

The real fun for snarky bystanders (yes, me) will come as Kelly attacks McSally for a shallow understanding of the issues. It will be time to bring back the Irony Board.

A Kelly-McSally primary would be a dream for Democrats, who can paint Barber as the mature statesman for the next six months while the Republicans fight. McSally given a free ride would be a problem, the operatives say. I wonder if a more “battle hardened” McSally who is forced to build an organization early, bone up on issues and earn public support in a primary would be harder to beat.

And we close with a conspiracy theory alert. One former Republican official as well as a couple of members of the press told me that some of Barber’s Republican support came from people who wanted to open up the way for McSally in November. I don’t think there are enough regular people who make this sort of calculations for it to actually work. That thinking is for us snide bastards who are involved in politics, not for normal people with jobs and stuff.

We’re supposed to buy that McSally supporters were conspiring? It wasn’t long ago that there were claims on message boards and blogs from McSally supporters that something “odd” happened in the primary, and that Democrats had manipulated the Republican primary to nominate Kelly. No one seemed to be able to explain how exactly this worked, or why Kelly, who polled very well against Barber in those days, was the “weaker” candidate. To quote Roseann Roseannadanna, it’s always something.

That Poll and Other Stuff

I talked to a couple of pros about that poll that Public Policy Polling released. They came to the same conclusion: that the poll over sampled Democrats.

Still, I think there is plenty of good news for Ron Barber.

One is the cross tab that shows Barber keeping 90% of Democrats, and Jesse Kelly only keeping 82%. That sort of drop off for Kelly plus the 51-34 advantage for Barber among independents is likely enough to keep the district in the Democratic column, even with the Republican registration advantage.

Another interesting number is the favorable-unfavorable rating for Kelly: 37-59. Even if one were to account for the Democratic over sample, that’s pretty horrible.

Of course, the Kelly people are pooh-poohing the poll. Here is Kelly henchman John Ellinwood quoted in the Sentinel:

Kelly’s spokesman said the poll was done by “left-leaning firm” that’s seeking to attract attention.

“If they were boring results, they wouldn’t put them out,” he said.

“Our indicators are that we’re up a few points,” he said. Ellinwood said the campaign’s polls are “internal info—we’re not really releasing it.”

Okay, not to pile on Ellinwood, but here are two tropes that I encounter when folks are trying to refute polls.

Thing one: The polls are made up! They are only doing it to make us look bad!

Public Policy Polling was founded by a Democrat, but if they went out of their way to skew results to benefit Democrats, they wouldn’t have much of a reputation among campaign professionals or the press. Who the heck wants bad data?

Also, by the way, despite their pedigree, their polling methods are known to show a slight Republican bias.

Thing two: Our internals are fantastic, but we won’t show them to you.

A campaign is perfectly in its rights to keep internal data, you know, internal. But if you brag to a reporter about how good it is, you should have to put it out there.

Okay, how about a compromise? If you gloat to a reporter about how great your internals are, you can keep them secret. But after the election, you are obligated to release them so we can all see how you were blowing smoke.


So, what happens Wednesday?

Well, if Ron Barber wins, Matt Heinz really doesn’t have much of a justification for his candidacy. If Barber loses, he may have one, but I don’t know how strong it is. If Barber gets defeated, I don’t see it as by a big enough margin that Heinz can say, “you tried but failed.” Matter of fact, given that the Democratic registration in the new CD 2 will be better, I can’t see how Barber wouldn’t be convinced that the numbers would point to a win for him.

By the way, Nomiki Konst dropped out a few weeks ago. Given all that has been going on in this race, you can’t be blamed for not noticing.

Martha McSally is the probable alternative Republican. There is also a fellow named Mark Koskiniemi in the race too. If Kelly loses, I can see Kelly being told by the Republican szlachta that he’s had two bites, time to go back to Texas or Montana or find another hobby.

Of course, I can’t see Kelly giving a happy gosh darn about what responsible Republican elders think. These are the guys who weren’t that keen on him running last time either.

Of course, if the poll is right and it’s a rout. Maybe Kelly would bow out? What? Facts and evidence? That’s communism.


One final note on this race. You know, for all the stick I gave Randy Graf, Steve Huffman, Mike Hellon and Tim Bee, they were actually folks that were of our community. I’m not saying that one needs to be born here or go to school here much less know the words to the Wally Sevitz theme, but you should be engaged in the community before running for high office.

For the trouble I had with Jonathan Paton, I could be confident that the guy could find Douglas or Fourth Avenue without a map before he filed papers to run for congress.

(It’s also why I’m perplexed by Paton’s move to CD 1, but hey)

As for Kelly’s intellectual and social investment in Southern Arizona, there ain’t much there. Heck, he didn’t know jack about the Rosemont Mine when he first started running. I don’t think his move to Texas for a good chunk of the last eighteen months was to get tutoring in Southern Arizona issues. The sum total of his engagement in our civic life is two runs for congress. The fact that the guy can win a nomination and come this close to winning the election is a sad comment on how little work we as Southern Arizona voters demand from our leaders these days.


Okay, Jesse Kelly won. Yep, he came tantalizingly close last time (at least for those who are tantalized by Jesse Kelly), but it’s a different election this time, and he already spent a lot of money (he’s down to less than $50,000 cash on hand in the last report). Ron Barber has spent hardly anything yet.

I’m surprised that Dave Sitton failed to do better. He’s been active in the community for a while; I thought that would carry him. I should have known better: we learned in the 2010 Republican primary that actual community knowledge and experience doesn’t matter. Heck, let’s vote for the guy that has spent most of the last 18 months in Texas. At least Martha McSally had a good excuse.

I had more than one friend point out that Sitton was the Jim Click candidate in this election and he crashed an burned, like many Click backed candidates lately. I’ll leave this unaddressed.

The three remaining candidates issued supportive statements of Kelly. I suppose this means that all of them will be withdrawing their names for the August CD 2 primary, right? I mean, they all think he’s a winner, right?

Oh, Frank, congrats on the bronze.

CD 8 Prediction Fun

Yes, there is plenty to write about. For example: why did Mark Stegeman and Miggy Cuevas think going to a festival in Barrio Hollywood, a bastion of Chicano activism for decades, would be a good idea?

Instead, I’m doing a poll on tomorrow’s results. I haven’t found a good way to do ranked voting, so instead, y’all get to vote on first and fourth with a bonus question. If you want to give us clues to your reasoning, feel free to share them with us in your comments.

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[poll id = “29”]


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You can vote until noon tomorrow.