Tag Archives: republican

97995886

Arizona law on picking judges challenged

A lawsuit filed on behalf of members of a state judicial nominating commission challenges a new state law changing how Arizona selects judges for its appellate courts.

The Arizona Republic reports that the lawsuit filed Friday says the law is unconstitutional because it effectively would change part of the Arizona Constitution without submitting a proposed amendment to voters.

The law being challenged increases the minimum number of nominees for each vacancy to five from three, the current constitutional requirement.

The Legislature approved the legislation in April, and Gov. Jan Brewer signed it into law.

Republican Rep. Justin Piece of Mesa sponsored the legislation. He says it is constitutional because the commission still can nominate fewer than five candidates to the governor if there’s a two-thirds vote to do that.

Brewer

Brewer’s Medicaid expansion plan secured

Arizona lawmakers have endorsed a key element of President Barack Obama’s health care law in a huge political victory for Republican Gov. Jan Brewer, after a lengthy fight over Medicaid expansion that divided the state’s Republican leadership.

The expansion that will extend health care to 300,000 more low-income Arizonans came after months of stalled negotiations, tense debates and political maneuvering as Brewer pushed the Medicaid proposal through a hostile Legislature.

She secured her victory Thursday after lawmakers passed Brewer’s $8.8 billion state budget that included the Medicaid expansion provided under a key provision of the Affordable Care Act. The Legislature’s Republican leadership called it “Chicago politics” and labeled Brewer a puppet master, but Brewer remained undeterred as she prepared to sign the measures into state law.

“The day has been a red-letter day for the people of Arizona,” Brewer told reporters after the budget votes Thursday. “It was a win, win, win all the way around.”

Brewer, an early critic of the Affordable Care Act, surprised the nation when she acknowledged the Medicaid expansion as the law of the land in her State of the State address in January. She noted that rejecting an expansion would mean Arizona taxpayers would subsidize care for those in other states while receiving no benefits themselves.

The expansion is expected to help reduce the amount of uncompensated care hospitals must absorb and help cut what Brewer called a hidden health care tax that people who buy insurance pay, through higher premiums, to cover others’ care.

After the Legislature secured her political win, Brewer softened her support for the health care law.

“Medicaid was here long before Obama health care. I have never liked Obama health care,” she told reporters after the vote. “It has nothing to do with Obama health care.”

The expansion is optional under last year’s Supreme Court decision upholding the health care law, and many Republican governors rejected it.

In all, 23 states plus Washington, D.C., are moving ahead with the expansion, while 15 states have turned it down. Another 12 states are still weighing options.

Nearly all the states refusing are led by Republicans. Several of the states accepting have Republican governors, but most are led by Democrats.

Washington will pick up the entire cost of the expansion for the first three years and 90 percent over the longer haul. It’s estimated that less than $100 billion in state spending could trigger nearly $1 trillion in federal dollars over a decade.

In Arizona, Republican leaders in the Legislature called the expansion a massive government overreach that would drive the federal government deeper into debt. They predicted the government promises of paying for the expansion would turn out to be false.

“This is the biggest mistake we’ve made in the Arizona Legislature this year and maybe ever,” said Republican Sen. Kelli Ward, of Lake Havasu City.

Republicans control the Legislature and all statewide elected offices in Arizona, but the Medicaid fight highlighted internal fractures between those who want smaller government and others who, like Brewer, who said broader health care access is good for the state.

“The bottom line here is greed,” said Sen. Al Melvin, a Tucson Republican who is running for governor and voted against the Medicaid expansion. “The people who want this know in their hearts that Obamacare is going to collapse under its own weight.”

A newly formed coalition of Democrats and moderate Republicans worked closely with Brewer to stand up to the conservative leaders who had blocked debate on the Medicaid expansion for six months. Lawmakers worked through the night Wednesday to get the plan through the House, and the Senate vote came hours later Thursday afternoon.

“I’ve never seen the case where a governor has rolled over her own party because she was throwing a temper tantrum,” said Republican Rep. Eddie Farnsworth, of Gilbert.

Senate President Andy Biggs said lawmakers had little information about what was in the budget before passing it.

“I am deeply and profoundly disappointed at the manner at which this came down,” he said.

Brewer dismissed the insults, predicting that all would be forgiven and Republican leaders would move forward together.

“Tomorrow they’ll probably say ‘I’m sorry’ or we will just forget it,” she said. “I just try to listen and let it go.”

It was a year of wins and losses for Arizona’s GOP.

The Legislature voted to adjourn its 2013 session early Friday morning after passing a slew of other bills, including an election overhaul that could make it more difficult for voters to obtain and return mail ballots. Biggs had to beg for extra votes to get the measure opposed by Democrats and voter outreach groups passed in the Senate.

Among the bills left on the floor was a proposal that would have prohibited abortion clinics from using Medicaid dollars to fund administrative costs and allowed for unannounced inspections, a top GOP priority.

Still, Brewer signed more than 100 bills advanced by conservative Republicans throughout the marathon session, including a measure that bars cities and counties from destroying guns turned over to police at community buyback events and instead requiring that they be resold. She also signed bills that will wildly increase campaign finance limits for state candidates and require unemployed workers to present documents showing they were fired before they can receive benefits.

Through it all, Brewer made it clear that the Medicaid expansion was her top priority. She held multiple rallies featuring low-income patients on the Arizona Capitol lawn and during the final month of the session, Brewer refused to sign any other bills until lawmakers passed a budget that included the health care expansion.

The Medicaid plan would cover people making between 100 percent and 138 percent of the federal poverty level and restore coverage to more than 100,000 childless adults who lost Medicaid coverage because of a state budget crunch. About 1.3 million Arizonans already are covered by the state’s plan.

Brewer

Brewer's Medicaid expansion plan secured

Arizona lawmakers have endorsed a key element of President Barack Obama’s health care law in a huge political victory for Republican Gov. Jan Brewer, after a lengthy fight over Medicaid expansion that divided the state’s Republican leadership.

The expansion that will extend health care to 300,000 more low-income Arizonans came after months of stalled negotiations, tense debates and political maneuvering as Brewer pushed the Medicaid proposal through a hostile Legislature.

She secured her victory Thursday after lawmakers passed Brewer’s $8.8 billion state budget that included the Medicaid expansion provided under a key provision of the Affordable Care Act. The Legislature’s Republican leadership called it “Chicago politics” and labeled Brewer a puppet master, but Brewer remained undeterred as she prepared to sign the measures into state law.

“The day has been a red-letter day for the people of Arizona,” Brewer told reporters after the budget votes Thursday. “It was a win, win, win all the way around.”

Brewer, an early critic of the Affordable Care Act, surprised the nation when she acknowledged the Medicaid expansion as the law of the land in her State of the State address in January. She noted that rejecting an expansion would mean Arizona taxpayers would subsidize care for those in other states while receiving no benefits themselves.

The expansion is expected to help reduce the amount of uncompensated care hospitals must absorb and help cut what Brewer called a hidden health care tax that people who buy insurance pay, through higher premiums, to cover others’ care.

After the Legislature secured her political win, Brewer softened her support for the health care law.

“Medicaid was here long before Obama health care. I have never liked Obama health care,” she told reporters after the vote. “It has nothing to do with Obama health care.”

The expansion is optional under last year’s Supreme Court decision upholding the health care law, and many Republican governors rejected it.

In all, 23 states plus Washington, D.C., are moving ahead with the expansion, while 15 states have turned it down. Another 12 states are still weighing options.

Nearly all the states refusing are led by Republicans. Several of the states accepting have Republican governors, but most are led by Democrats.

Washington will pick up the entire cost of the expansion for the first three years and 90 percent over the longer haul. It’s estimated that less than $100 billion in state spending could trigger nearly $1 trillion in federal dollars over a decade.

In Arizona, Republican leaders in the Legislature called the expansion a massive government overreach that would drive the federal government deeper into debt. They predicted the government promises of paying for the expansion would turn out to be false.

“This is the biggest mistake we’ve made in the Arizona Legislature this year and maybe ever,” said Republican Sen. Kelli Ward, of Lake Havasu City.

Republicans control the Legislature and all statewide elected offices in Arizona, but the Medicaid fight highlighted internal fractures between those who want smaller government and others who, like Brewer, who said broader health care access is good for the state.

“The bottom line here is greed,” said Sen. Al Melvin, a Tucson Republican who is running for governor and voted against the Medicaid expansion. “The people who want this know in their hearts that Obamacare is going to collapse under its own weight.”

A newly formed coalition of Democrats and moderate Republicans worked closely with Brewer to stand up to the conservative leaders who had blocked debate on the Medicaid expansion for six months. Lawmakers worked through the night Wednesday to get the plan through the House, and the Senate vote came hours later Thursday afternoon.

“I’ve never seen the case where a governor has rolled over her own party because she was throwing a temper tantrum,” said Republican Rep. Eddie Farnsworth, of Gilbert.

Senate President Andy Biggs said lawmakers had little information about what was in the budget before passing it.

“I am deeply and profoundly disappointed at the manner at which this came down,” he said.

Brewer dismissed the insults, predicting that all would be forgiven and Republican leaders would move forward together.

“Tomorrow they’ll probably say ‘I’m sorry’ or we will just forget it,” she said. “I just try to listen and let it go.”

It was a year of wins and losses for Arizona’s GOP.

The Legislature voted to adjourn its 2013 session early Friday morning after passing a slew of other bills, including an election overhaul that could make it more difficult for voters to obtain and return mail ballots. Biggs had to beg for extra votes to get the measure opposed by Democrats and voter outreach groups passed in the Senate.

Among the bills left on the floor was a proposal that would have prohibited abortion clinics from using Medicaid dollars to fund administrative costs and allowed for unannounced inspections, a top GOP priority.

Still, Brewer signed more than 100 bills advanced by conservative Republicans throughout the marathon session, including a measure that bars cities and counties from destroying guns turned over to police at community buyback events and instead requiring that they be resold. She also signed bills that will wildly increase campaign finance limits for state candidates and require unemployed workers to present documents showing they were fired before they can receive benefits.

Through it all, Brewer made it clear that the Medicaid expansion was her top priority. She held multiple rallies featuring low-income patients on the Arizona Capitol lawn and during the final month of the session, Brewer refused to sign any other bills until lawmakers passed a budget that included the health care expansion.

The Medicaid plan would cover people making between 100 percent and 138 percent of the federal poverty level and restore coverage to more than 100,000 childless adults who lost Medicaid coverage because of a state budget crunch. About 1.3 million Arizonans already are covered by the state’s plan.

Runoff Election, Early Voting Phoenix Mayor, Council

Andrew Thomas will run for governor

Former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas says he’s planning to run for Arizona governor in 2014.

Thomas served as county attorney from 2005 until he resigned in 2010 to unsuccessfully run for Arizona attorney general.

A three-member disciplinary panel of the Arizona courts disbarred Thomas about a year ago for failed corruption investigations that he and county Sheriff Joe Arpaio launched against officials with whom they were having political and legal disputes.

Thomas is a Republican and he joins a growing list of candidates for governor.

Democrat and former Arizona Board of Regents Chairman Fred DuVal, Republican and ex-Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman and Americans Elect party candidate John Mealer have already formally filed to run.

Republicans Sen. Al Melvin and Secretary of State Ken Bennett have formed exploratory committees.

jon-kyl

ASU names Kyl Distinguished Fellow, Scholar

Former United States Senator Jon Kyl has accepted a part-time appointment at Arizona State University as Distinguished Fellow in Public Service in the ASU College of Public Programs and as O’Connor Distinguished Scholar of Law and Public Service in the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at ASU.

The Senate’s former No. 2 Republican leader will work primarily in Washington, D.C. and will begin this new role with ASU immediately.   Recognized in 2010 as one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine, Kyl was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1994 and retired at the end of his third term In January of this year.  Before serving the Senate, he was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1987 to 1995 and earlier worked as a lawyer and lobbyist in Phoenix.

Kyl, who received his bachelor’s degree and law degree from the University of Arizona, recently joined Covington & Burling, the largest law firm in the nation’s capitol.

“Jon Kyl has long been one of the nation’s most important political leaders,” said ASU President Michael M. Crow.  “He has taken a thoughtful approach to important issues and has been a statesman at time when statesmanship was sometimes lacking.  ASU students will benefit greatly from his experience and perspective.”

At ASU he will teach classes and convene discussion groups on a range of issues, including immigration reform, sequestration and the debt ceiling, tax and entitlement reform, and national security and foreign policy.  Other topics will involve internal Congressional issues such as the role of politics and compromise, party discipline, lobbying and why Congress is so contentious.

“ASU has made tremendous progress in the last decade,” said Kyl. ”I am excited to work in such a dynamic environment. Twenty six years in Congress taught me a lot, and much of it is not quite what the textbooks teach.  Hopefully, I can impart some ‘real life’ lessons about our national government and major policy issues to students at ASU.”

“We are delighted that Senator Kyl will be joining us as O’Connor Distinguished Scholar of Law and Public Service,” said Douglas Sylvester, dean of the O’Connor College of Law.  “He is one of Arizona’s most respected and experienced public servants, and we are looking forward to the invaluable perspective he will bring our students and our law school community through his years of distinguished leadership and government service.”

Added Dean Jonathan Koppell, dean of the College of Public Programs, “What a great opportunity for ASU to learn from a legislator who has been a key player on issues that affect every Arizonan.

“At a time when the political process is widely disparaged, ASU students who already are drawn to public service will get the chance to see how one person can make a difference by following the path to elective office.  Senator Kyl has shown himself equally passionate about opening students’ eyes to the realities of policy making in Washington and the substantive issues, like water policy and immigration, that will shape the future of Arizona.”

Flag USA and New Mexico

Kavanagh returns as House Appropriations chair

Fountain Hills Republican John Kavanagh will return as chairman of the state House Appropriations Committee when Arizona lawmakers report in January for their 2013 regular session.

Kavanagh’s return as Appropriations chairman is among 18 committee chairmanships announced Thursday by Speaker Andy Tobin in a post-election reorganization.

Other returning House chairmen include Bob Robson for the Rules Committee, Doris Goodale and Eddie Farnsworth for Judiciary.

Newly appointed chairmen include Debbie Lesko for the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee and Justin Olson for a new Federalism and Fiscal Responsibility Committee.

Lesko is currently House majority whip.

In all, the House will have 18 committees, all led by majority Republicans.

flag

Barber ahead again, Sinema lead grows

Two Arizona congressional races remained too close to call Sunday.

The hand-picked successor of former Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was ahead again in his race to win a full term in Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District.

Results posted Sunday show Democrat Ron Barber pulling ahead of Republican Martha McSally by more than 300 votes out of more than 250,000 cast in the 2nd Congressional District race. The district covers parts of Pima and all of Cochise County. Pima County expects no vote tallies Sunday and Cochise County officials were unavailable.

Democrat Kyrsten Sinema has seen her lead over Republican Vernon Parker in the Phoenix-area’s 9th District seat widen to more than 5,700 votes.

Maricopa County still has hundreds of thousands of early and provisional ballots to count. Pima County has about 33,000 to count.

flag

Arizona congressional races too close to call

Arizona’s three competitive congressional races were too close to call early Wednesday, including the Tucson-centered seat Rep. Ron Barber won in June to replace his former boss, Gabrielle Giffords.

Barber saw his small lead against Republican Martha McSally in the 2nd District disappear just before midnight, with McSally taking a tiny lead.

“We knew it was going to be close and this is exactly what we expected,” she said late Tuesday.

Barber reminded supporters that Giffords’ narrow 2010 win over Republican Jesse Kelly also wasn’t known for several days.

“We’ve got a little bit further to go,” he said. “It’s going to be tomorrow or the day after that.”

Both Giffords and Barber were wounded in January 2011 when a gunman opened fire at a “Congress on Your Corner” event for the then-congresswoman and her constituents. Eleven others also were wounded and six people were killed.

Giffords stepped down from Congress earlier this year to focus on her recovery. Barber beat Kelly in the June special election to replace her.

Kelly chose not to make a third run this fall. McSally, a retired Air Force fighter pilot, won the GOP nomination in August and sought to persuade some of the women and independents who swung to Barber in the special election.

“We knew it was going to be close and this is exactly what we expected,” she said late Tuesday.

In the new Phoenix-area 9th District, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema and Republican Vernon Parker were in a near dead heat.

Both Parker and Sinema acknowledged the wait would be long, and Parker urged his supporters to be patient because thousands of ballots remained uncounted.

“I am telling you all to hang in there,” Parker told supporters in Phoenix. “We will win this thing. I guarantee you.”

Republicans have a slight registration advantage in the district, which includes much of Tempe and parts of Phoenix, Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, Mesa and Chandler. But both parties’ totals are exceeded by independents, and many believe it leans Democratic.

Sinema told supporters there was good reason to be optimistic.

“Right now we’re going to keep our heads high, take a deep breath and pray for every vote to be counted in this election,” she said.

In northeastern Arizona’s 1st District, Republican Jonathan Paton’s slight lead over Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick diminished as Tuesday night wore on.

Kirkpatrick told supporters she was waiting for results from the Navajo Nation and other tribal areas that she hopes will put her back on top. The district runs from Flagstaff through eastern Arizona counties and then west into parts of Pinal County.

“Our race is looking good, but we’re not going to know for quite a while,” she said.

Depending on the outcome, Democrats could end up with a majority of the delegation or Republicans could hold on or add to their current 5-3 majority. The state earned a ninth seat after the 2010 Census and will fill it for the first time in November.

Voters in six districts chose their representatives along the expected 4-2 party split in favor of Republicans.

Democratic Rep. Raul Grijalva won re-election in the 3rd District, freshman GOP Rep. Paul Gosar easily won in the 4th District and former Republican Rep. Matt Salmon coasted to victory in the 5th.

Republican Reps. David Schweikert and Trent Franks were re-elected in the 6th and 8th districts while Democratic Rep. Ed Pastor cruised in the 7th District.

119117605

Arpaio far ahead in fundraising in sheriff’s race

Republican Joe Arpaio remains the leader in fundraising in the race for Maricopa County sheriff.

The Republican incumbent raised $457,000 from Aug. 9 through Sept. 17 and had $3.8 million in his re-election campaign fund at the end of the period.

The campaign for Democrat Paul Penzone says it raised $138,000 during that period and finished with $114,000 left over.

A spokesman for Independent Mike Stauffer’s campaign says the candidate’s latest fundraising numbers were unavailable.

Republican Presidential Debate at Mesa Arts Center

The Republican Presidential Debate Viewing Party

On Wednesday, February 22, the Republican party held their primary debate here in Arizona. I ventured out into deep Mesa to cover the debate, but since I couldn’t actually get into the building, I decided to walk around outside the Mesa Arts Center, where a large, outdoor viewing party was being held. There were plenty of journalists there reporting on the debate, so instead of writing a conventional news story, I decided to record a running diary of my time at the event. Pics are at the end of the post.

5:02 pm – Paul supporters out in full force today.

5:12 pm – Political events have the best people watching.

5:16 pm – About 50 percent of the crowd is vocal Ron Paul supporters. So far I have only seen a small number of people #SpreadingSantorum or showing support for the other two candidates.

5:21 pm – There is a large number of protesters here to support the DREAM Act, a legislative proposal that would provide amnesty for illegal immigrants. For the rest of this piece, I will refer to these protestors as “the DREAM Actors.”

5:25 pm – The city of Mesa hired a band to perform on stage before the debate starts. They’re trying really hard, but no one is listening.

5:40 pm –The DREAM Actors are now marching, while chanting “Sí se puede” and “We’re not afraid.” I have a feeling that immigration is going to be a hot topic at tonight’s debate.

5:45 pm – I just came across some demonstrators imploring the candidates to, “Please free Syria.” Sorry bros, maybe if you guys had more oil …

5:41 pm – There are also a small number of people here to support the #Occupy movement. I wonder if they know that Warner Brothers (a major corporation, man!) gets a cut from every single Guy Fawkes mask they buy.

5:50 pm – Governor Jan Brewer is now on stage getting the folks fired up! #ScorpionsForBreakfast

5:51 pm – “Tonight we will get clear and concise answers from the candidates…” HAHAHA! Good one, J.Brew!

5:53 pm – Arizona Republican Party Chairman Tom Morrissey comes up on stage to ask us if we love our country, and then to lead us through the Pledge of Allegiance.  But before we begin, he reminds us that there is no pause between the words “one nation” and “under God.” Thanks for the tip, Tom!

5:55 pm – The MC for the outside crowd instructs us to cheer wildly whenever they point the camera at us. “Get up, cheer, jump around, send gang signs… I mean, no, HAHA, don’t do that!” Are you sure you don’t want to see my gang sings, CNN outside party MC? I want to represent my crew. #westside

6:00 pm – “This is CNN.” LET’S DO THIS.

6:01 pm – THIS DEBATE COULD CHANGE EVERYTHING!!!! At least that’s what CNN says could happen.  CNN gives all the candidates a pro-wrestling style intro. Ron Paul’s is by far the lamest.

6:01 pm – During the introductions, Newt gets some polite applause; Romney and Santorum get a few cheers from the crowd outside. Paul has the loudest supporters.

6:04 pm – In the first answer of the debate, Rick Santorum says that he would cut Medicaid and food stamps, but not military spending. But hey, don’t criticize him. Rick is a good Christian man, and I’m pretty sure he’s just following what it says to do in the Gospel.

6:11 pm – Right now, Santorum is getting hammered on his voting record. It must be hard to get elected president after spending many years in Congress. Even the smallest and most routine votes can come back to haunt you.

6:12 pm – People outside keep applauding the comments like the candidates can hear them.  Inside the Mesa Arts Center, Newt Gingrich has just informed the crowd that today is the 280th birthday of President George Washington. #historian #knowledgeBombs

6:14 pm – Gingrich’s big stumping point for this debate seems to be energy and gas prices; he has already mentioned it a few times. Also, there is a large man in a chicken suit standing right behind me. I don’t know what he wants.

6:16 pm – The chicken man is standing so close I can feel his breath on the back of my neck. #veryuncomfortable

6:17 pm – Ron Paul continues to get the loudest cheers. He tells the audience that we need to stop all foreign aid because it is a waste of money and it helps our enemies. But what about programs like the Peace Corps, or emergency food/medical services? That might make a good follow-up question, John King.

6:21 pm– Romney is bragging about deporting illegal immigrants while he was Governor of Massachusetts. The DREAM Actors protesting outside do not like this. Also, I have to wonder why the moderators allow the crowd inside the Mesa Arts Center to cheer/applaud during the debate. This has happened at every single Republican debate. It makes the candidates to pander to the crowd and it wastes time.

6:37 pm – Wow, a good follow-up question about the managed bankruptcies and the auto industry by John King. See I knew you had it in you! Still, I’m pretty disappointed with the types of questions I’ve been hearing throughout the Republican Primary. <rant> It seems like the reporters/journalists are covering the campaign like it’s a horse race; they’re not concerned with the actual issues. The news media is only searching for buzz-worthy, marketable, thirty-second soundbites; they let the presidential candidates spout of the same talking points, over and over again, unchallenged. No one ever asks the candidates about how that will actually make their plans happen, or speculates about the possible ramifications if the Republicans succeed </rant>.

6:42 pm – We’re still on the topic of the auto bailouts. Ron Paul is insisting that politicians shouldn’t meddle in corporate bankruptcies, because they can’t figure that kind of stuff out. Are politicians stupid? Does that mean we should start electing smarter people?

6:50 pm – All the Republican challengers seem to agree that President Obama has launched a vicious attack on religious freedoms in America (via contraception). Is Obama the next Maximilien Robespierre? #reignofterror

7:03 pm – Santorum and Romney keep blaming each other for causing Obamacare. Santorum says that Obamacare was based on Romney’s state healthcare plan in Massachusetts, while Mitt claims that Obama’s bill never would have passed through Congress if Santorum hadn’t indorsed Senator Arlen Spector (who voted for the bill after he was re-elected). Which Republican presidential candidate do you think deserves the credit for overhauling the American healthcare system?

7:04 pm – The crowd outside lustily boos Maricopa County Sherriff Joe Arpaio when he is introduced during the debate. They must have had a bad experience at tent city or something.

7:13 pm – Newt Gingrich loves Ronald Reagan. He loves Ronald Reagan more than you ever could. He wants you to know that.

7:14 pm – During commercial breaks, the CNN crew keeps asking us to cheer when they put us up on the big screen. Why do they need our cheers so badly? Are they terribly insecure, to the point where they need constant reassurance that they are doing a good job?

7:20 pm –The DREAM Actors and Ron Paul supporters have crowded around the CNN cameras. Their signs are partially obscuring the big screen, which is angering other people in the crowd.

7:26 pm – We are now on the topic of Iran and nuclear weapons. If you listen, you can hear the drums of war beginning to beat. This is getting the Ron Paul supporters and traditional Republicans fired up, but for very different reasons.

7:31 pm – You can tell people are into the debate when they loudly muttering their own personal commentary. It isn’t the least bit annoying. #sarcasm

7:47 pm – During the last commercial break, two men start chanting Romney’s name. No one else joins in and they quickly stop.

7:52 pm – Gingrich and Romney refuse to answer John King’s final question. They instead use the time for a closing argument about why they should be president. When John King tries to protest, Romney slaps him back down #WHO’SYOURDADDY

7:55 pm – It’s over. Time to get out of here.

Final Take: During the debate, new frontrunner Rick Santorum boxed himself in by pointing out that he voted for large bills and packages that he didn’t believe in, such as Title X, which is not popular among the Republican electorate. He portrays himself as a principled Washington outsider, but by admitting and trying to defend the fact that he played the political game, Santorum lost a lot of his credibility. Honesty gets you nowhere in these debates. I expect Mitt Romney will get a boost over the next several days.

[slickr-flickr tag=”debate-party” items=”30″ type=”slideshow” id=”77243671@N03″]

87753346

Money Reigns Supreme In The Arizona Primaries

The primaries are over and we are on to the general election. Because primary elections only decide who will represent political parties going into the general election, they are sometimes seen as less-important races. Many times, the primaries are the toughest battles. In a district that is considered Republican or Democrat “safe,” the primary is the real contest and the general election is the afterthought.

In Arizona’s 3rd Congressional District we can see how this works. It is considered Republican safe. Congressman John Shadegg decided not to seek re-election to this seat. While only one Democrat and one Libertarian candidate sought the office, 10 Republicans entered the race and spent roughly $3.5 million combined in a spirited contest. Ben Quayle won the Republican nomination and will go on to face Jon Hulburd, the Democrat’s nominee, and Michael Schoen, the Libertarian’s. These primaries had 79,011 Republicans cast ballots compared to 27,755 Democrats and 422 Libertarians. It would be hard for a Republican nominee to lose this seat with nearly a three-to-one margin of turnout advantage.

Two of the most significant factors in winning an election like this are incumbency and money.

Look at Arizona’s congressional seats. This year, seven of Arizona’s eight congressional incumbents were seeking re-election (with Shadegg deciding to step down). Of those seven, three were unchallenged within their primaries and the four that were challenged all won. Congressional incumbents went seven for seven in their primaries.

Of the 11 contested Republican or Democrat primaries, eight of them were won by the candidate who raised the most money. The three races that weren’t won by the top money raisers were won by the second-highest money raisers. These primary winners raised an average of $750,000 each.

Usually, people are discouraged by this. I’ve been asked, “Shouldn’t the candidate’s message and platform be the most important factors to decide a race?”  I agree that they should, but here is the reality: If you are the greatest candidate the world has ever known, you are not going to get elected if people don’t hear your message! Incumbency is valuable because people become familiar with your name and it gives a candidate a tremendous boost raising campaign contributions.

Why does money have to be so important? Campaigns are about communicating a message to an electorate. Hiring a professional consultant to guide your campaign, using resources such as signs to build name ID, and having the ability to send out mail, make phone calls, or air television ads are all examples of how to communicate a message. All of these things require money. Without money, a candidate is just unknown.

As much as we would like to root for the little guy to win or the underdog to pull off the upset, the truth is that a candidate we have never heard of who doesn’t have campaign resources rarely gets our vote. They don’t have credibility because we don’t know them. It is unfortunate because sometimes they may be the better candidates.

Arizona State Seal

A Quarter Century Of Wisdom Points To The Right Solution

In 1982, I was beginning my first term in Arizona’s House of Representatives. After years of spending increases, our state was suffering an economic slowdown. Recovery was just around the corner.

In 1984, Ronald Reagan was elected to his second term as president of the United States, the federal government announced that it would build an orbiting space station, and the Phoenix area was one year away from receiving its first deliveries of Central Arizona Project water.

In other words, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Yes, we are a different state today than we were a quarter century ago.

Our population has doubled from 3.06 million to 6.8 million.

Per capita income has risen 256 percent, from $13,866 in 1984 to $32,953 today.

The world may be suffering the symptoms of an under-the-weather economy, but citizens from high-tax and high-regulation states will continue to move to Arizona, just as they have for the past 25 years. They will come because of our freedom-loving attitudes, our incredible business and environmental climate, and a commitment to nurturing opportunity.

However, since we have ignored history over the past few years, we must re-live the lessons of previous cycles. Once again, after stumbling through several years of free-spending fostered by a previous administration, Arizona must bring spending back to reality.

This is why I offer a five-point plan to cure what ails us:

  • Cut spending as much as feasible.
  • Don’t create or expand programs.
  • Stop treating one-time windfalls as permanent revenue. Even the feds must stop printing money eventually, so don’t think cash will keep flowing out of Washington.
  • Modernize our tax structure. Let’s get spending under control by 2012. Then let’s renovate our tax system to foster well-paying, sustainable jobs.
  • We must be responsible. The previous administration spent too much, and we must pay the bills, even if it leads to temporary tax hikes that automatically expire in three-to-four years.

Some think our political climate has changed. To those people I say, the more things change, the more we need the wisdom of some of the best political minds from the 20th century: Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater. They advocated:

  • Keeping taxes reasonable.
  • Limiting government intrusion.
  • Encouraging opportunity.
  • Creating prosperity.

Back in 1984-85, for the first time in state history, Arizona officially became a Republican state. We tended to elect conservative Republicans for decades, but many rural and blue-collar Democrats re-registered and pushed my party over the top.

When I became secretary of state in 1998, I watched a national trend away from political affiliation, which made it look like GOP domination would erode. As of April 1, 2009, our 3.1 million registered voters were split into three semi-equal groups. About 36.8 percent are Republicans, 33.8 percent registered as Democrats and 28.5 percent are not affiliated with either party.

Voters may be disenchanted with both parties, but they still love freedom, want limited government intrusion in their lives, and place their faith in the wisdom of Reagan and Goldwater.

The evidence is clear that Arizonans remain as committed as ever to limited government. This is why, come 2010, I am confident that our state will continue to follow the path blazed by Reagan and Goldwater by trusting sustainable, conservative solutions that realistically and responsibly address Arizona’s financial crisis.

McCain, America's Next Leader - AZ Business Magazine Oct. 2008

America’s Next Leader

The last time an Arizona politician stood at the threshold of the White House was 44 years ago, when Republican presidential nominee Barry Goldwater introduced a new form of conservative politics to America before falling under the wheels of President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s campaign juggernaut.

american-next-leader 2008

Now, another Arizonan, also the Republican nominee, has the White House within his grasp.
Within weeks, Sen. John McCain will either make history or repeat it in one of the most closely watched presidential elections in modern history as he squares off against Sen. Barack Obama, the first African-American presidential nominee of either major party.

“I don’t seek the office out of a sense of entitlement. I owe America more than she has ever owed me,” McCain says. “Thirty-five

years ago, I came home from an extended leave abroad. While I was away, I fell in love with my country. I have been an imperfect servant of my country ever since, in uniform and in office, in war and peace.”

That he has made it this far is remarkable considering his campaign seemed on the verge of collapsing in the months before the Iowa caucus.

McCain had trouble getting his primary campaign off the ground. Then, after securing the Republican nomination, McCain’s campaign began to drift, says Larry Sabato, a nationally recognized political science professor at the University of Virginia.

“He was the nominee for the Republican Party long before Obama had the Democratic bid, but he didn’t seem to use that time wisely,” Sabato says.

However, Sabato believes McCain’s campaign has since tightened up considerably.

“They are making decisions quickly and rolling the dice as needed,” he says.

Deeply involved in politics since leaving the U.S. Navy in 1981, McCain was first elected into the U.S. House of Representatives in 1982. He was elected into the U.S. Senate in 1986. When he was reelected for his third Senate term in 2004, McCain won by an overwhelming percentage of the vote.

In between, McCain ran for president for the first time in 2000, hoping to ride his Straight Talk Express campaign bus all the way to the White House. An underdog, he surprised supposed frontrunner Texas Gov. George W. Bush by winning the New Hampshire GOP primary. That’s when the campaign turned ugly, and in the South Carolina primary, very personal. Bush, of course, eventually won the Republican nomination and the general election.

Over the past eight years, McCain has clashed with Bush on numerous issues, but he has remained unwaveringly behind Bush on the Iraq War, telling radio talk show host Mike Gallagher earlier this year, “No one has supported President Bush on Iraq more than I have.”

McCain went on to add, “… there are many national security issues that I have strongly supported the president (on) and steadfastly so.”

Bush in turn has expressed his support for McCain’s 2008 presidential bid, giving his endorsement earlier this year and saying that McCain has the “character, courage and perseverance” to lead the country, according to an article on CNNPolitics.com.

Even Paul Johnson, the former Phoenix mayor who at one time expressed concern about McCain’s famous temper, believes the senator is maintaining a solid campaign.

“I am proud of the way he is running his campaign and the issues he’s bringing to the forefront,” Johnson says.

Besides taking flak for his temper, McCain has also been taken to task for breaking from the Republican Party on some high-profile votes, and even for his age; at 72, he would be the oldest president in U.S. history, if elected. But countering that is the fact McCain is also a respected war hero.

McCain spent five and a half years as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War in the infamous camp dubbed the “Hanoi Hilton,” where he was forced into solitary confinement, denied medical treatment and beaten by the North Vietnamese. But he maintains he is not bitter — rather he is humble.

“There is no higher honor than sacrificing for a cause greater than my own self-interest,” he says.

He also believes this experience, as well as his leadership in the Senate Armed Services Committee, makes him the most-qualified candidate to be commander in chief.

McCain’s domestic platform for his potential presidency begins with a goal to present greater opportunity and prosperity for workers and their families.

“That agenda will ensure those workers are employed by businesses that invest in innovative technologies, are not strangled by excessive regulation, are not burdened by high taxes, do not face rising health costs that squeeze wages, and sell more products and services in world markets,” he says.

On the foreign policy front, McCain has made no secret of his support of the war in Iraq, but he admits, “I do not want to keep our troops there a minute longer than necessary to secure our interests. And I believe we can achieve that goal, perhaps sooner than many imagine, and must give Gen. (David) Petraeus and our troops the necessary time to succeed in Iraq.”

He adds that if elected president, he will ensure “al-Qaeda has no safe haven anywhere in the world, including Afghanistan, where U.S. and NATO forces continue to root out and eliminate the threat of remnants of the Taliban and al-Qaeda.”

McCain promises that with him at the helm, American families will be secure from threats domestic and foreign. “I will take on our damaging dependence on imported oil and make sure that oil will never again be a weapon against us,” he says. “America’s workers will be secure in the fact that they have portable health insurance and pension benefits, allowing them to move from job-to-job, job-to-home, and job-to-retirement without fear of losing their financial safety net.

“They will be secure in the knowledge that if the economic foundation of their employer or industry shifts, they will be prepared to make the transition to a new job and have access to community college-based training programs that provide the skills to acquire and hold a better job for the 21st century.”

McCain does not deny that there are major economic challenges that must be confronted and he has plans to amend these crises. “Americans are suffering under high gasoline prices, rising food prices, a housing crisis, and tough credit conditions that threaten even the ability of our students to get their college loans,” he says.

As part of McCain’s approach to ease consumers’ current pain, he pushed for a summer gas tax holiday and to stop filling the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. He has also proposed his so-called HOME Plan to provide robust, timely and targeted help to those hurt by the housing crisis. In addition, he called for a Justice Department task force to investigate wrongdoing in the mortgage industry.

To ensure that college remains a reality, McCain has proposed a student loan continuity plan that will coordinate policies with the states to keep the credit crunch from hurting students.

McCain also promises to address the challenge of rising health care costs by “transforming the health care system to focus on quality, cost, and being responsive to the needs of American families.” He adds: “Furthermore, I will not leave difficult tasks like securing our border, entitlement reform, or fixing our schools for another generation of leaders to solve.”

McCain has lofty goals for the future and security of America and its people. But he has one major obstacle standing between himself and the White House. In the minds of many Americans, the sheer fact that McCain would be replacing another Republican — and a highly unpopular one at that — is a detriment to his campaign, according to Patrick Kenney, professor and chair of Arizona State University’s political science department.

“The Republicans have been in power since 2001 and ‘peace and prosperity’ is not going well,” Kenney says. “The economy is down, the war is not entirely supported and (McCain) is linked to Bush’s war and economic program.”

For his part, Obama is hoping the link to Bush will work in his favor. He released a television spot in late July titled “The Low Road,” in which, The Huffington Post reports, “the Illinois Democrat (is) playing his trump card: tying McCain to George W. Bush, both in politics and in policy.”

However, Arizona’s other senator, Jon Kyl, believes McCain’s connection to Bush and the war has a positive side. “He was instrumental in helping Bush with the surge strategy after he returned from Iraq and saw first-hand the things that weren’t being done properly to win the war,” Kyl says.
It is this military expertise and experience that Kyl believes will help McCain gain support from veterans.

“I think that all Americans appreciate his service and it will help prepare him to make decisions and winning strategies in the war,” Kyle says. “It helps identify him with leadership, experience, courage and independence.”

cover october 2008

Grant Woods, the former Arizona attorney general from 1991-1999, thinks it is that very independence that makes McCain the ideal man to lead the nation. “He will never be a scripted, always ‘on’ message candidate,” Woods says. “This is frustrating to the professionals, but makes him more attractive to real people because he is a real guy.

“We face great international challenges militarily and economically,” Woods continues. “I believe his lifetime of service gives him the judgment we need to lead the country at this time. He has the experience to make his own decisions.”

As Election Day draws near, Americans will be responsible for making their own decisions, as well. Regardless of the outcome, change is on the horizon — and that is exactly what the American people seem to want for the future.