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.

Keep Digging

Ron Barber and Matt Heinz appeared at a forum yesterday. It will be broadcast tonight on Arizona Illustrated at 6:30 as well as on KAUZ 89.1. Brady McCombs has a summary of one portion of the debate.

Barber brought up Heinz’s vote on HB 2718. The jab came at the end of the debate, and shortly after Heinz had made his sell-out allegations against Barber for his split the difference vote on Eric Holder’s contempt charges.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Barber voted wrong on that one. After speaking to Barber about the vote, I still don’t agree with it, but it was not about currying favor with Republican leaders.

I can’t say that about Heinz’s vote on HB 2718. If the vote on Holder was about a partisan witch hunt, much the same could be said about 2718. It was a partisan temper tantrum following Clarence Dupnik’s statements about talk radio and the Tea Party in the wake of the January 8th shootings, and a way to prop up someone who was then a rising star in the Republican party. Heinz can release a littany of excuses, as he did today (his statement is after the jump), but this was him giving bipartisan cover for an act of Republican umbrage.

Something to remember when reading the statement he released: the bill not only gave the Pinal County Sheriff funding for “border security” (even though Pinal County has no border with Mexico) and took away funding from the Pima County Sheriff, his own sheriff. The money was supposed to go to gang interdiction and prevention programs, which may have done some good for the neighborhoods he was supposed to represent. Not only was Heinz willing to curry favor with some of the most retrograde political personalities in our state on their pet issue, but he was willing to do so at the expense of his own constituents.

Heinz is acting shocked at this attack, but he shouldn’t be. This vote has been controversial since he took it. Heck, I complained to him about it at the time. He should understand that if he wants to attack Barber as some sort of sell-out, he should be ready for his checkered record on important issues to be questioned.

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Things I’ve Been Meaning to Write About, Part 1

There are a couple of things post-wise that I’ve kinda let slide in the past couple of weeks. I know that my detractors (yes, even the great bloggers have detractors) will likely ascribe the lack of a response to some of these issues as evidence of…heck, they’ll come up with something on their own.

It was really a lack of inclination. Sometimes I’m in the mood to hit the keyboard, sometimes not. Plus, FC Tucson was in the playoffs.

So a couple of weeks back, I was going to comb FEC reports and find whatever was interesting. It ended up being something I didn’t have the time to pursue, so this “project” ended up being a total of one post.

Still, it generated some response, like this:

If it is true that the [Matt] Heinz Campaign started fundraising after special, then you should compare only the last two weeks of June. I just wanted to point out that if you’re as good as you think you are, maybe you would’ve notice that Barber only pooled $21,500 from 20 individual donors (including gabi and her husband’s contribution at $5000).

By the way, those figures I used included money Heinz raised before the special.

Heinz’s campaign manager also responded, asserting that Barber’s fundraising took a “cliff dive” during the period being talked about.

I went ahead and checked it out, and yes, Barber’s fundraising took a hit during those two weeks. It was also two weeks when Barber was setting up constituent offices and flying to Washington to get sworn in. It wasn’t a time that he could do a lot of phone time or stage house parties. Oh yeah, and it was two weeks following a period where he had just raised and spent $1.3 million.

The whole thing is pretty thin gruel to support the theorem that Barber’s campaign is in collapse. But, unfortunately, thin gruel is Heinz’s whole case for replacing Barber.

Take, for example, Heinz’s attack on Barber for not supporting marriage rights. This is based on Barber not signing on to an amicus brief for a case that may or may not be taken up by the US Supreme Court. Barber had previously made his support for marriage rights known during the campaign when the race was close enough that being that out front could have hurt him. He also is a co-sponsor of the Respect for Marriage act, which is essentially a repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act.

He’s got to struggle to find these little bits of light to Barber’s left because, despite Barber’s two notable votes that infuriated many progressives (including me), Heinz’s legislative record makes running as some sort of people’s tribune more than a bit difficult.

For example, take Heinz’s vote to support HB 2718, which was an exercise in partisan pique by the legislature against Sheriff Clarence Dupnik. Not only was it a vote that denied funding for law enforcement for his own constituents, but he was throwing in with the knuckledraggers on immigration.

Then there’s Colorado City, the town infamous for being the former baliwick of polygamist and convicted child molester Warren Jeffs. The police in that town have been acting on directives from local religious leaders rather than the law when it comes to kidnapping and sex abuse offenses. Several officers have been decertified for offenses involving minors.

A group of Democrats and moderate Republicans wrote a bill that would dissolve their police department and allow the local sheriff to take over. The bill was even supported by Tom Horne. That bill died despite overwhelming support in the Senate when it lost a Committee of the Whole vote in the house. Among the no’s…Matt Heinz.

Supporters weren’t dissuaded; they attempted to add the language to another bill. The amendment wasn’t added because of a procedural vote. Only one Democrat voted with the Republican leadership on that one…Matt Heinz.

Hey, I know how legislatures work. Even Mo Udall had votes he wasn’t proud of. But if your argument is that Ron Barber is some sort of crypto-conservative sell-out, you have to have a better record and judgement than this. If you want to tell us that this was all some part of a savvy deal you cut, what you got out of it better be better than a close friendship with Andy Biggs.

Which brings us to an ad that he’s running:

It’s a worthwhile bill, definitely. Heinz’s campaign is claiming that this means $8 million for breast cancer screening, but the numbers I’ve seen from the legislature say $2 million. Still not a pittance. However, he leaves out what he had to promise to get it. He voted yes on the Republican’s health budget, one that included a $7 million cut to KidsCare, that’s 100,000 Arizona children dropped from the program, including some that were receiving chemotherapy. The budget included no provider increase to hospitals, despite their needs due to AHCCCS cuts.

By the way…still no money for transplants. Anyone remember that one?

Like I said, deals have to be cut, but don’t try to sell yourself as a progressive champion when you pull things like this, especially when it’s on an issue that you claim you are uniquely in a position to lead on.

Looking Through FEC Reports, Part 1

Political junkies pore through campaign finance reports like baseball fans go through the Lahman Database. And, in much the same way, it can seem pathetic to outsiders.

I poked around in Matt Heinz’s FEC report, and, um…it didn’t take very long.

Heinz only raised $33,755 in the last quarter, which is only a shade more than he loaned his campaign in the previous quarter. This leaves him with $43,263 in cash on hand.

You say, you got all that from the Weekly. Tell me something I don’t know, jackass.

Okay, here you go: Heinz’s problem isn’t the low amount of money he’s raising. It’s his burn rate, which has nothing to do with Jeffrey Donovan.

Heinz spent $50,721.95 on staff and consultants in the last quarter, including, and here’s your irony, $13,500 of that on a fundraising consultant. The salaries being paid are not out of line for a congressional campaign. Matter of fact, Ron Barber’s campaign was also very staff heavy at the beginning of the special election cycle. The difference was, he was able to raise the money to cover it.

Nearly half of that money went to Evan Hutchison, who is named as a “campaign consultant.” Hutchison has told a few people that he’s taken on party establishments before: in 2008 he ran the campaign of a fellow named Paul Newell who was running a primary contest against the Speaker of the New York Assembly, Sheldon Silver. That campaign is probably not one Heinz would like to see a re-run of. Newell’s campaign got in trouble for claiming newspaper endorsements that weren’t his and went on to lose the election by forty points.

Maybe these guys are running an insurgency and don’t need great gobs of money. They’ll live off the fat of the land.

Given that the FEC is okay with vague titles like “campaign staff” (which could cover anything from receptionist to dendrochronologist), it could very well be that one of these guys is a fantastic field organizer that is, even as we speak, mobilizing an army of thousands. Still, there is not much money being spent on voter contact (some money went to a Facebook ad though).

He’s running out of time to start on voter contact, and he isn’t going to have much money to spend on it if he can’t keep the lights on.

Whew.

I heard a bit on the local NPR station that Ron Barber will be voting against the Obamacare repeal. I’m glad to hear he’s not running away from it.

I still don’t get the over-caution from him. The district he’s running in now is even more Democratic than the one he skunked Jesse Kelly in. I’m still perplexed by the Eric Holder vote and the explanation that by half voting for what he’s acknowledging is a partisan witch hunt he’s striking a blow for civility is a bit much. And I don’t think the “split the baby” stand will win over any Republican or independent that’s on the fence about the guy.

If it was some way to make sure that the NRA doesn’t give him a bad rating, good luck with that. I don’t think they are in the habit of giving endorsements to high profile gunshot victims. The existence of people like Barber tend to ruin their thesis.

Anyhow, I like Ron a lot, I’ve just been getting frustrated with a couple of his votes. His willingness to be on the right side on the ACA is reassuring.

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In case you are curious, Matt Heinz is still running in the CD 2 Democratic primary. He put out a statement today on Ron Barber’s vote on HR 1505, the bill that would suspend protections for public lands under the pretext of border enforcement.

This from his press release. Put out, by the way, a week after the vote. Work on your agility, people:

“I would have voted no,” answered Dr. Matt Heinz at a Town Hall held at Pima Medical Society. Constituents asked Heinz, a state representative and congressional candidate, if he would have cast the same vote as Congressman Ron Barber (Ariz.-D) who supported H.R. 1505, the National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act, waiving a century of land management laws and environmental protection policies, including the Arizona Wilderness Act sponsored by renowned former Arizona Congressman Morris “Mo” K Udall.

Well, now we hear more from Heinz other than “I’ll work across the aisle” and “Did I tell you I’m a physician?” Running to the left of Ron Barber isn’t the worst idea for him, better than whatever it is he’s been running on so far. Nice to see the emphasis on environmental issues too.

Still, he throws this one in at the end:

“My legislative record shows that I crossed the aisle to support local law enforcement with resources for the real world challenge of increasingly well-armed drug cartels and traffickers,” declares Heinz. Our representatives must have true convictions and the ability to build bipartisan consensus to solve problems. Heinz has demonstrated the ability to reach consensus without compromising his convictions during his time as a lawmaker in the Arizona State Legislature.

Um. Yeah. You mean like the time you voted with the Republicans to take away money from our local sheriff’s department as part of a partisan vendetta? Did you talk to local law enforcement about that one? How’d that work out for your constituents?

Full release after the jump. Continue reading

Hmm.

Chief among the attacks from Ron Barber against Jesse Kelly were quotes from Kelly’s last campaign regarding Social Security and Medicare. Kelly claimed that the attacks were unfair, but refused to explain his alleged change of heart.

Unfair or no (I say “no”), it was clear that Kelly wanted to campaign as the defender of Social Security and Medicare, if the yellow police-tape like decorations on his signs were to be believed.

The thing that struck me about this was how many of the Republican budget ideas out there revolve around big changes, eviscerations really, to both programs. If these are such fantastic ideas, why not campaign on them? Especially in a Republican district like the one Kelly was running in.

It was clear that Kelly was warned off by folks in the NRCC, who presumably are tasked with selling things like the Paul Ryan budget to voters.

It appears what happened with Kelly is not an isolated case. Talking Points Memo has a story about a Republican incumbent who is not only campaigning against Medicare privatization, but for Obamacare’s Medicare provisions.

Barack Obama is deeply unpopular in West Virginia, and the congressman in question is not in a particularly tough race. This is not a guy that needs to “moderate” or “reach out.” It seems to be exactly the sort of campaign where a candidate can proudly say he’s for everything the caucus is pushing for.

If these ideas are so fantastic and are what the American people asked for, why can’t they get their candidates to campaign on them?

And We’ve Seen this Before. Unfortunately.

The US House passed something called the Gila Bend Indian Reservation Lands Replacement Clarification Act yesterday. It would effectively block the Tohono O’Odham Nation from building a casino on land that they acquired in Glendale.

Trent Franks has been pushing for this legislation, with cheerleading from Jan Brewer and the Gila River Indian Community, who’d rather not have the competition. The chief complaint is that the area will have trouble handling the traffic and noise from the casino.

The area currently includes a football stadium and a hockey arena. But hey, traffic and noise are okay as long as the right kind of people are making money.

So, how did the TO’s get the land? Well, back in 1986, the federal government agreed to allow the tribe to acquire land to make up for the 10,000 acres that were flooded in a water project. The tribe acquired the land subject to the agreement, which said that they could use the land as they saw fit, in 2003.

So, let’s summarize: the feds and a tribe come to an agreement over land, and as soon as the tribe looks like they could make some money, the feds are looking to go back on their agreement.

Have we read this story before?

NB – The only two Arizona representatives to vote against this were Ron Barber and Raúl Grijalva, who has been the point person on the issue.