Friday, August 27, 2010


Republicans have nominated over a dozen tea candidates less likely to prevail in the general election than their establishment GOP rivals. The nomination of Sharron Angle (NV) gives otherwise challenged Harry Reid a decent chance. You know the others, from Rand Paul in KY to Scott in FL to Quayle in AZ.

Yes, they may prevail in their blood red worlds, but Quayle's nomination is as nuts as Paul's. Have you heard these guys? Were it not for being their father's sons, these clowns might be night watchmen for junkyards not wanting to be cruel to dogs. Okay, Paul can do teeth, but word is that his employees can't stand him.

Of course, we have AZ CD-8, which has entertained ever since Jim Kolbe retired after holding the office for 24 years. Establishment favorite Jonathan Paton, despite having the backing of the Click/Diamond machine and state representative credentials, fell to newcomer Jesse Kelly, also a son, in this case of local construction mogul Don Kelly, who of course has strong ties to other construction moguls.

Many (self included) considered Paton a sure thing, with years of generally well thought of legislative experience, and clearly the superior candidate to face Giffords in November. Yes, I've left town, but I've met many in the Giffords campaign. Not taking any credit from the candidate, it is important to recognize the truly extraordinary organization working for her election. For that reason, I still think she would have prevailed over Paton even in this foul economic climate with the tenuous CD-8 dynamics, but it would have been nerve racking.

Kelly's primary victory is good news for the Giffords campaign. Now a Congresswoman for four years, Giffords commands the deep and thorough understanding of national, state, and CD-8 specific issues that comes from living with them for four years. In the upcoming debates, Kelly will repeat the tea party talk about big government and cutting taxes. He'll declare Giffords is like Pelosi.

Sure, a fourth of the room will cheer, like they did for Graf and Bee. Then come the hard general election questions about education, social security, the economy, and the hard district questions about the water supply (Rosemont mine?), solar energy development, the University of Arizona (I hope they post it on YouTube), immigration and the border (for real), transportation infrastructure....

Kelly has the luxury of having no record in elected office and some tea groups that will hit Giffords on his behalf.

Giffords has, and it is no luxury, but the result of years of very hard work, the advantage of knowing what she's talking about.

She also has the ability to hit back.


Blogger Sirocco said...

From what I heard, the opinion seems to be Kelly heavily outworked Paton. People may be surprised he won, but he earned it.

I hear the Giffords camp does prefer facing Kelly, both for reasons you give and some you don't. Still, he's shown he is willing to put in the effort (something Bee and Paton apparently were not willing to do), and that plus the current political climate should ensure this race is not a cakewalk.

8/27/2010 5:53 AM  
Anonymous Observer said...

I remember thinking when she beat Bee, "That's it. She's set."

Then Obama got elected and the rabid white trash went into orbit.

It won't be a cakewalk, but her campaign infrastructure is so far ahead of his. What I don't know, and maybe some other blogs will offer some insight, is how well the Paton people will endorse Kelly and actually work for his election. Obviously the situation is much better than 2006.

I guess the question is the same in a lot of elections. Can these tea kooks really win in general elections?

8/27/2010 9:00 AM  
Anonymous Another Anon said...

The outside money is already starting to come in.

There is a story in today's Star and the TV ads are running.

(Sorry, I don't know how to make the link live.)

I just don't know how well the area's retirees and Boomers are going to take to Jesse's plan to eliminate Social Security.

8/27/2010 9:04 AM  
Anonymous Another Anon said...

The TV ad is posted here:

8/27/2010 9:07 AM  
Blogger Liza said...

"Can these tea kooks really win in general elections?"

The election results are already available on the AZ Secretary of State Web site:

There are some interesting things to take note of. First, the overall voter turnout for the state is 29.44%. This sounds very low but if you have ever been involved with elections, it is actually on the high side for a mid term primary. Out of 3,102,876 registered voters, there were 913,578 who turned out.

If you look at CD8, there were 55,881 votes cast in the Democratic primary and Giffords, who ran unopposed, got 54,852 votes. In the Republican primary, there were 87,763 votes cast of which Kelly got 42,555 and Paton got 36,543.

I couldn't find any detail information about voter turnouts that was readily available on the Web site, but they have reports that you can download and analyze. However, just looking at the numbers in the governor's race, for example, you see that Republican voters are overwhelming Democratic voters.

So, can the tea kooks really win in general elections? It certainly looks possible in the state of Arizona.

The challenge the Democrats face right now is turning out the vote. It is important to understand that the people who will really work for a candidate are mostly on the far left or far right of the center, and it appears that the right is much more invigorated than the left this time around.

No matter how you spin these primary numbers, the absolute values should be a matter of major concern for Democrats trying to get elected or re-elected.

As for CD8, I have no prediction right now. I do not sense any real enthusiasm for Giffords from the left and, as I said, these are the people who will work to turn out the vote. However, she has the financial means to run a lot of TV ads, and that is still the most effective way to advertise in both politics and commerce.

It will be an interesting two months.

8/28/2010 10:06 AM  
Blogger Liza said...

"Then Obama got elected and the rabid white trash went into orbit."

I'm stating the obvious, of course, but ultimately it is all about power. During the weekend of Reverand Wright in March of 2008 we learned with absolute certainty that race as well as the exploitation of other divisive issues would be the GOP strategy to re-gain power. And, so it is, no surprises there.

What is actually more of a surprise, in my opinion, is the lack of unity among congressional Democrats who produce watered down legislation when robust legislation is required (ex: health care reform and financial reform.) To be fair, the Senate is more of a problem than the House, but they are both at fault. The net result is that what they have managed to accomplish is politically neutral for them in 2010.

What is so unfortunate is that the rancor on the left could probably have been avoided if the health care reform bill had a public option. Just that one victory would most likely have retained their support. It was so painfully obvious, yet the Senate failed to understand that, as they seem to think that all legislation is about their own personal allegiances to their financiers.

What I have thought about the current Democrats for some time now is that power is not the same issue for them as it is for the GOP. The GOP wants to rule the world and they will work together in unison. The Democrats seem to be happy when they get re-elected and get to keep their own little fiefs. For much of the last two decades, they seem more content with being the underdog and less comfortable with power.

Just my opinion...

8/28/2010 10:44 AM  
Blogger The Navigator said...

Intelligent and thoughtful posts, Liza.

I wouldn't read too much from the primary turnout numbers, at least for CD 8. The Republicans had a contested Congressional race that attracted a crowd. Giffords was uncontested and the rest of the races, what races? Only the really, really involved politicos pay attention to those LD primaries.

The national vs. local dynamics are what always make a race unpredictable. X4mr is right that there are a lot of people in the district who like Giffords, but responding to Observer, in this election I think the Paton supporters will turn out for Kelly, probably voting against Giffords more than they are voting for Kelly. A vote is a vote whatever the motivation. Arizona is not a good place for Democrats right now. This will be Giffords hardest election, but I also think Kelly will be easier to beat than Paton would have been.

A huge unknown, at least to me, is where SB 1070 plays out in CD 8. Will Latinos rise up for Giffords more so than the SB 1070 supporters for Kelly?

You got me, Liza, on the Democrats seeming inability to have any spine. They should be kicking ass. I confess that I don't know the inside baseball remotely well enough to understand what is in their way from producing real progress during Obama's first two years. Maybe what they did get done is real progress, and I / we just don't realize what is realistic given DC and the complete lack of conscience on the part of the Republicans. Every time I see John Boehner or Mitch McConnell I can feel my blood pressure rise.

I hate them, not like hunt them down and shoot them hatred, but I hate them. They are despicable, evil, and completely soulless creatures.

8/28/2010 12:29 PM  
Blogger Liza said...

Hey, Nav,
Certainly the Democrats having only a few contested races was a factor in the low turnout. Even so, if you were preparing a strategy for a Democratic candidate for the general election, there is a lot here to be concerned about.

If you look at the governor's race, 574,477 voted in the Republican primary versus 289,446 who voted in the Democratic primary. This indicates that 62.8% of total votes cast were Republican versus 31.6% for Democrats, roughly 2 to 1. That ratio is something to be concerned about in any election.

Primary election voters are likely to be general election voters, so the primary is indicative of how much support you can count on. Also, when party turnout is relatively high in a primary, it indicates that infrastructure is in place to get out the vote for the general. That alone is a major advantage.

Candidates, of course, have access to their local or state party "get out the vote" infrastructure. That is mostly dependent on volunteers and to be effective, people have to be both motivated and organized. In Pima County, the Democrats do not seem to be particularly robust right now, but the unions often step up and offer support and resources.

The importance of getting out the vote cannot be overemphasized. The die hards have voted, and what is left are those in the middle who are not predictable, and they are the ones who decide elections.

With all that said, I still think that incumbency is a major advantage unless you have become identified with something that is upsetting voters in this election. The Republicans would like to think that Grijalva is vulnerable in CD7 because of his support for the SB1070 boycott. That is a district that can turn out a Latino vote for a Democrat and I suspect they will.

As for Giffords, I don't know how SB1070 will play out in CD8. Her TV ads seem to indicate that she thinks the votes are on the anti-immigration side and she has voiced her disapproval of the boycott. That is actually silly, because what LA concert promoter or major event planner gives a rat's hind end what Gabrielle Giffords thinks of the boycott? Her TV ads need some work.

As for Jesse Kelly, it will be interesting to see what kind of candidate he becomes. If he were politically savvy, he would start looking for a way to walk it back on some of his extremist positions because, like I said, those votes that win the election are in the middle.

8/28/2010 2:27 PM  
Blogger x4mr said...

Liza's comments are very astute and take a deeper cut than most of the MSM speculation about what is going to happen in November.

Sadly, I don't see Goddard standing a prayer against Brewer. She has played her cards well in this crazy cycle. We all know Glassman is not only toast, but crispy toast against McCain.

Could this be another 1994? Maybe, but keep in mind that in 1994 the Democrats didn't know about 1994, and the GOP Contract of 1994 had a far more solid argument than the shrill screaming of the tea crowd.

What 2010 has in spades along with 1994 is the right wing epileptic seizures regarding the man in the White House.

8/29/2010 9:22 PM  

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