AZ Republic won’t endorse in any Legislative race in the general election

19 Sep 2014 05:41 pm
Posted by: Donna

I got forwarded an email by a Dem consultant earlier. It was an exchange between a Dem campaign manager and an editor at the AZ Republic. I’m not calling this particular editor out because this is endemic problem at the paper and it is clearly coming from the top. Here’s the editor’s brusque reply to the manager’s query about general election endorsements:

We are not endorsing any legislative races in the general election. It’s a matter of staffing, time and resources.

Oh really? They had plenty of staff, time, and resources to devote to endorsing in the primaries, not to mention endless op-eds hand-wringing over them and cajoling those precious “independent” voters to ride in and save “moderate” Republicans. And now they don’t have anything to spare for general races? Not even for the handful of competitive ones like the House races in LD9, 18, and 28 (apologies if I’m forgetting other LDs)? This is not only unfair to Democrats who didn’t have primaries, thus never got interviewed for the primary endorsement, but it is incredibly dismissive of the majority of voters who show up for the general election. Basically the Republic is telling the general voters in LD28 that there’s no difference between Dr. Eric Meyer (D) and former Rick Santorum staffer and Tea Party darling Shawnna Bolick (R). Same goes in LD18 for teacher and community leader Mitzi Epstein (D) and Jill Norgaard (R), who is so rabidly anti-choice she doesn’t even support exceptions for the life of the woman, as well as Dr. Randall Friese (D), the surgeon who saved Congresswoman Giffords’ life and who is running to be a strong advocate for health care and Ethan Orr (R), who (yes) is not the worst Republican in the Legislature but that’s hardly high praise.

My theory is that the Arizona establishment’s fixation on primaries, and their near-religious certainty that all elections are won in them is of a piece with their belief that Clean Elections caused all the extremism here. It’s myopia and elitism. The idea is that if they could just get those damn unruly activist base primary voters out of the way, moderation would reign in Arizona! They’re wrong about that but appear to be uninterested in pursuing an actual solution to the problem with our Legislature, which would be to have Democrats take over at least one chamber. The invariable response I get to that from them is that it would be impossible for that to happen. Well guys, this ongoing project of rescuing the GOP from the radicals via primaries doesn’t seem to be working either. The thing that has moderated the Legislature in recent years was the addition of enough Dems to deprive them of a veto-proof majority.

Why has Shawnna Bolick removed her previous employment with Rick Santorum from her campaign website?

18 Sep 2014 04:35 pm
Posted by: Donna

Y u no wanna namecheck me anymore Shawnna?

AZ Representative Dr. Eric Meyer (D-28) sent out a statement calling on his Republican opponent Shawnna Bolick to denounce Russell Pearce for his recent comments extolling forced sterilization of poor women. Pearce had proudly endorsed Bolick, even going so far as to recommend single-shotting her. Bolick responded to Meyer thusly:

Oh, she wants to talk about guilt by association, does she? It’s funny because I was looking at her bio to find that quote about how working with Sen. Rick Santorum was where her “pro-life and Republican values became cemented for life” and, lo and behold, the reference to her employment with him is gone! Here’s what the paragraph that contained the previous Santorum love says now:

Bolick graduated from Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs with a B.A. While she attended college, she was involved with Alpha Phi Omega (national service fraternity), an early morning disc jockey on WERW, and Concert Board. Shawnna moved to the DC area upon graduation from the Maxwell School to complete her Masters coursework from American University. While attending graduate school, Shawnna worked on Capitol Hill. Shawnna also is no stranger to the inner workings of state government. She interned in the New York State Assembly one semester as an undergraduate. After completing her graduate coursework she moved to Austin, TX where she worked for now Texas Governor Rick Perry on his high tech council.

Ouch! Rick Perry gets to stay in the bio but creepy sweater vest Rick who thinks birth control makes the Savior weep gets erased? Interesting. Let’s ponder why Bolick mightn’t want the voters in the general election in LD28 to know that she not only found Rick Santorum tolerable, she actually admired him enough to seek out a job with him. Oh right, because that would tell them literally everything they need to know about her. I mean, ew. Sorry Rick, but Shawnna has to pretend to be not that into you right now in the hopes that she’ll get elected and turn right around and be a reliable vote for the radical Religious Right*.

My suggestion to Eric Meyer campaign is to bring up Bolick’s connection to Rick Santorum at every possible opportunity. I regret not screenshotting her original bio page but, whatever, Bolick was proud to tell Sonoran Alliance she worked for Santorum back during the primary.

Also, don’t vote for that stupid Goldwater Institute Right To Be Bilked Before You Die measure she’s shilling.

*Except she’ll leave your porn and gambling alone, guys.

How do you like your Hobby Lobby now, Doug Ducey and other GOP candidates?

16 Sep 2014 03:30 pm
Posted by: Donna

Per Ian Millhiser:

Citing Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, the Supreme Court’s decision last June holding that the religious objections of a business’ owners could trump federal rules requiring that business to include birth control coverage in its health plan, a federal judge in Utah held last week that a member of a polygamist religious sect could refuse to testify in a federal investigation into alleged violations of child labor laws because he objects to testifying on religious grounds…

…The federal child labor investigation arose from a CNN report investigating claims that Jeffs “ordered all schools closed for a week so children could go to work picking pecans off trees at a private ranch” in Utah. The report included video of “hundreds of children, many of them very small” working on the ranch. When the reporters arrived, CNN also caught video of the FLDS children fleeing the cameras.

Yet, according to an order signed by Judge David Sam, a Reagan appointee to a trial court in Utah, the federal officials investigating this alleged violation of child labor laws will not be able to require an FLDS member named Vernon Steed to provide information that could aid the investigation because Steed objects to giving certain testimony on religious grounds. Steed claims that he’s made “religious vows ‘not to discuss matters related to the internal affairs or organization of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.’” According to Judge Sam’s opinion, that’s enough to exempt him from providing the testimony he does not want to give.

Whoops.

A couple of things here: It’s possible that Sam’s ruling will be overturned if a higher court adheres to the Hobby Lobby v Burwell “narrowly tailored ruling” standard (translation: “This is strictly about the sluts!” “Also, too, only the religions we like”) so don’t be getting your schadenfreude going just yet. Still, this does show that opening the door to religious discrimination means that others will want to go through it and will be willing to tie up the courts for years, if need be. The other thing is that I warned everyone that the ruling didn’t just apply to bosses and business owners. It can be asserted by anyone – an employee, a student, in this case a witness to a child labor abuse case – who thinks that their “religious freedom” is being infringed by having to do anything they don’t want, which includes things that serve a legitimate public interest. Such as not forcing small children to work in fields.

This brings me to Arizona, and our upcoming statewide elections. A lot of Republicans here thought the Hobby Lobby decision was just ducky, including candidate for Governor Doug Ducey (R) and Attorney General candidate NOT Tom Horne aka Mark Brnovich (R). Secretary of State candidate Michele Reagan voted for the legislative version of Hobby Lobby, SB1062, back in March, as did all but three Republican legislators. Many of those legislators are up for reelection. Back when they were having hearings about SB1062, Republican lawmakers chortled at the many scenarios Democrats (rightly) raised about where the law could go. One Republican called them “goofy hypotheticals”. Well, it appears those zany FLDSers have proven us right, Republicans.

This case was in Utah but FDLS has a big presence in this state too, and they are subjecting children to the same kind of horrors. But Ducey, Brnovich, Reagan, and a host of Republican incumbents and candidates for state legislature think it’s super important to let bosses pry into women’s private lives and businesses be able to deny service to LGBT citizens and have refused to trouble their beautiful minds over the possible unintended consequences. Then again, it’s likely that a lot of them consider things like child abuse to be a feature, not a bug.

They’re shocked! Shocked, I tell you!

15 Sep 2014 02:57 pm
Posted by: Donna

Let’s say you are Sean Noble, a Koch-ed up dark money operative who has been the focus of some negative attention for your activities. You’d probably prefer to be known for something else in the midst of a heated general election cycle in Arizona, where you are the manager of the GOP candidate for Attorney General. Then it comes to your attention that former AZ Senate President Russell Pearce has said some vile things in public, as he is wont to do. And as right wingers are wont to do so often, Pearce focused his wrath on poor women. In this case Pearce says that poor women on public assistance should be forcibly sterilized.

Forcible sterilization of poor women is not part of the GOP platform (yet) so you, Sean Noble, are provided with a perfect opportunity to change your own public image and help your candidate. You make a statement denouncing Pearce in the strongest possible terms and demanding that he resign as Vice Chair of the AZ GOP. Luckily for you, there are several columnists and pundits around these parts who are such suckers for the faint possibility of “moderate Republicans” taking over the state that you should easily find at least one to get your statement out there and obligingly portray you as the hero of the whole thing. If you are successful in this endeavor you can count on having any description of Sean Noble as “that Koch brothers dark money guy” countered with, “but he also went after Russell Pearce for saying that thing!”, for at least the duration of the election season, as if the latter cancels out the former.

More importantly, because not many people outside of insider baseball care about a consultant, your AZAG NOT Tom Horne candidate will also benefit by releasing his own statement condemning Pearce and calling for his resignation from that volunteer symbolic position with the AZ GOP (which Pearce did late Sunday night). Brnovich, a little known Tea Party protest candidate, is not exactly stellar competition to Democrat Felecia Rotellini in the general. He needs any help he can get to look like a mainstream guy, and especially one who isn’t hostile to women.

Noble and Brnovich were followed by GOP Governor candidate Doug Ducey and Secretary of State candidate Michele Reagan in denouncing Pearce, though only Reagan asked him to step down as chair. Pearce was quick, and you could even say good-sported, about resigning his unpaid party position, which makes it worth noting that, thus far, no Republican (including Noble and Brnovich) has demanded that Pearce resign or be fired from his highly paid cushy job with the Maricopa County Treasurer. I’m just saying this looks a bit contrived at this point. Never forget how Pearce was the hero of the Republicans only four short years ago for SB1070, which ensured a GOP statewide sweep in that midterm election, and he had already established a long track record of bigoted statements, like this one from 2007:

“Tough, nasty illegals and their advocates grow in such numbers that law and order will not subdue them. They run us out of our cities and states. They conquer our language and our schools. They render havoc and chaos in our schools. I’m stunned at the speed of this invasion. I’m further stunned that most American don’t see it or deny it or ignore it. We are much like the Titanic as we inbreed millions of Mexico’s poor, the world’s poor and we watch our country sink.”

EDIT: It’s also worth noting that Pearce has a history of problems with women that pre-date 2010, including divorce documents indicating that he abused his own spouse and opposition to expanded protections to women from domestic violence.

So now they’re really going to channel Claude Rains and act like, why heavens no, they had no idea Russell Pearce was so toxic! Give me a break. It is interesting to note how Pearce remains quite useful to them now, but just in a different way than he was in 2010. Could it be that we’re seeing the modern emergence of a Republican version of hippie punching?

Oh look, another nonexistent attack on reproductive rights by a Republican!

12 Sep 2014 05:21 pm
Posted by: Donna

I crosspost what I post at Democratic Diva over at Blog for Arizona, and a lot (not all by any means but a lot) of what I blog about is reproductive rights. I do so because I pay close attention to the issue as it’s something I care deeply about and consider hugely important but also because I assume that anyone who pays only a modicum of attention to US and Arizona politics has noticed how intent anti-choice activists and their allies in the Republican party have been on ruthlessly attacking women’s reproductive rights. These attacks take a variety of legal forms – arbitrary late term bans, waiting periods, TRAP laws, attempts to defund Planned Parenthood, so-called “conscience clauses”, the Hobby Lobby SCOTUS decision, women actually being prosecuted for stillbirth and miscarriages, etc. – and I don’t expect the average person to be up on all of them. I would expect, however, expect the average person who is motivated to comment on a liberal political blog to be aware of at least some of them. But apparently this is too much to expect, as I have Blog for AZ commenters informing me that Roe v Wade settled everything in perpetuity and that abortion and contraception will always be available. Okay.

Another way women are being attacked relentlessly, and publicly, is through the rhetoric of prominent and influential figures such as Rush Limbaugh – who spent the better part of a week screaming how a college student was a slut because she wanted to testify before Congress about the need for birth control coverage – and Congressman Todd Akin, who claimed, and continues to claim, that victims of “legitimate rape” couldn’t get pregnant. There have been other outbursts from conservative pundits and politicians too numerous to account. Misogyny? What misogyny? (I have helpfully provided those links for the benefit of commenters who are perhaps as unaware of prominent right wingers saying awful things about women and our reproductive rights in the past few years as they are of the legislative attacks on our rights.)

With that said, and all due respect and humble apologies (not really) to those who may be annoyed that I’m blogging about my pet cause yet again, I bring you today’s edition of my overheated lady imagination conjuring up…oh wait, no…this really happened (read the whole thing):

“You put me in charge of Medicaid, the first thing I’d do is get Norplant, birth-control implants, or tubal ligations,” he said.

Russell Pearce – you all know who he is, right? – is currently the Vice Chair of the Arizona GOP and holds a cushy sinecure with Maricopa County while collecting generous pensions from positions he retired from. He was a big fetus-fetishist while in the AZ Senate, voting 100% with the AZ Right to Life crowd, so it may seem odd that he’d advocate for forced sterilization. Well, kittens, I’m here to tell you that anti-choice authoritarians are hellbent on getting their grabby tentacles in all aspects of people’s private lives and reproduction. For the subset of them who are racially motivated – no, not all anti-choicers want only more white babies born but some do and Pearce is most definitely in that category – that means that “certain people” will be forcibly prevented from procreating if they have their way. This has happened, in this country, so it’s no minor thing for someone like Russell Pearce to say that on the radio.

Attacks on women’s reproductive rights are no joke and, in all seriousness, I am damn tired of having to explain to people that, yes, this shit is actually happening. Consider this your last Pro-Choice 101 post. Any and all comments denying or minimizing this issue get deleted, henceforth.

Of course they ignored repro rights at the Channel 12 debate.

11 Sep 2014 04:14 pm
Posted by: Donna

In Wednesday night’s gubernatorial debate hosted by KPNX Channel 12 candidates Fred DuVal (D) and Doug Ducey (R) were asked about topics ranging from the economy to taxation to Common Core school standards to the border and immigration policy. My assessment of it was that Ducey would have gotten away with his recitation of talking points with no specifics to every question were it not for moderator Brahm Resnik, who does not care for that and pressed him for details, causing Ducey to flail. DuVal was definitely better prepared to answer the actual questions.

Noticeably absent, to me and other reproductive rights advocates, were any questions about women’s health and family planning. This deliberate elision is far too common here and not something seen in other red states North Carolina and Texas, where candidates are debating things like abortion and contraception vigorously, as they should since anti-choice laws are being passed like crazy in them. But, for some reason, the mainstream news people in Arizona tend to be squeamish about the topic. You may see the question come up, briefly, in one or two major debates but not in most of them. On the rare occasion moderators do ask it’s typically to allow the GOP candidate to express his support for “exceptions for rape and incest” with no follow-up questions.

This reluctance to draw candidates out on their reproductive rights stances has frustrated and puzzled me for years. My guess is it stems from the obsession with “moderation” in some powerful circles here and the unwavering faith that this can somehow be achieved through “civility” (meaning not calling the Republicans out forcefully on their bad behavior). The only journalist who seems to give the constant stream of anti-choice legislation coming out of the Arizona Legislature the coverage it merits is Howie Fischer of Capitol Media Services. The rest mostly ignore it, as if treating the subject as too controversial and polarizing to cover will somehow make it go away. But it won’t. Anti-choice activists and legislators are not at all squeamish about pushing for creepy, misogynistic, unconstitutional bills that the state then spends millions of dollars defending in court. The bills that do succeed in being implemented as laws brutalize poor women and end up costing the state through unplanned pregnancies and the child abuse and neglect that can sometimes ensue from them.

These attacks on women’s rights come up every year and are sent to the Governor’s desk, therefore it matters who that Governor is and how he or she handles them. At its heart this is a debate over women’s autonomy and ability to participate fully in society, which also happens to have a profound impact on the well-being of children. It’s at least as important as Common Core so it’s not too much to ask for hosts of debates and endorsement boards to devote five minutes to the subject, is it?

The NOT Tom Horne candidate appears to be worse than Tom Horne

09 Sep 2014 05:04 pm
Posted by: Donna

This is a photo I took off NOT Tom Horne’s campaign website a few months ago. Not sure why they chopped off the top off his head.

Mark Brnovich, AKA the NOT Tom Horne Republican candidate for AZ Attorney General is a Goldwater Institute and Tea Party guy who filed to run against Tom Horne over a year ago as a protest candidate back when no one thought Horne, with all his money, was vulnerable in a primary. Republicans knew that Horne would have a lot of baggage going up against Felecia Rotellini again but didn’t bother to recruit a less ragingly right wing back-up candidate just in case, you know, more damning revelations came out about Horne. Oops. Now, NOT Tom Horne’s supporters are working furiously to portray him as a mainstream guy who is totally not Tea Party. On a recent TV appearance I had with right wing activist Shane Wikfors, himself and early and proud adopter of the Tea Party label, Wikfors was careful to downplay Brnovich’s Tea Party endorsements.

So obviously NOT Tom Horne needs a lot of help with this emergency makeover project. Luckily for him, he happens to be the recipient of a healthy $1,084,000 ad buy by the so-called “independent” Republican Attorneys General Association, or RAGA. (There is a RAGA Arizona IE PAC that recently filed with Secretary of State.) They seem like a nice bunch of people:

RAGA was formed because an inadequate number of state attorneys general were committed to defending federalism, adhering to the law during the course of multi-state litigation and applying a common-sense, free market approach to governing. In its first election year, RAGA made its mark on American politics by emerging as the only Republican organization to gain seats during the hard-fought 2000 elections. Since then, the impact of RAGA has been significant as the number of Republican attorneys general has increased in five of the past ten elections, growing from fourteen to twenty five nationwide.

Facts

Republican attorneys general hold 24 seats across the country. Attorney General Alan Wilson (SC) is the Chairman of RAGA.
Republican attorneys general’s fight against Obamacare scored a major victory allowing states to choose whether or not to participate in Medicaid expansion.
Republican attorneys general are currently challenging the constitutionality of Dodd-Frank.
In 2012, Republican attorneys general were successful in fights against the EPA.
In 2012, Republican attorneys general defeated the Cross State Air Pollution rule, which would have forced several power plants to shut down production, causing utility rates to skyrocket.
Arizona won a successful challenge against the National Labor Relations Board which challenged the state’s constitutional amendment guaranteeing workers’ rights to vote by secret ballot on whether to join a union. This case set valuable precedent which will allow these issues to be resolved at the state, and not federal, level.
Attorney General Alan Wilson (SC), with the help of other state Republican AGs, played a pivotal role in defeating the NLRB’s politically-motivated attempt to disallow Boeing’s business expansion in South Carolina.

The RAGA dark money ads will undoubtedly attack Democratic candidate Felecia Rotellini, who is running a very strong campaign. I predict they will be bunch of lies about Rotellini, wrapped in some charming sexism. Another thing you should know about this RAGA outfit is that none other than Sean Noble, the Dark Money kingpin, has provided substantial funding to it via his American Future Fund. Sean Noble so happens to be none other than Mark Brnovich’s campaign manager. Isn’t that cozy?

Remind me again what the point of ousting Tom Horne was if he’s simply going to be replaced by another joker who flouts the law as the state’s top law enforcer? Although frankly, I’ll take Horne’s hit and run and campaign violations, as egregious as they were, over Brnovich’s baggage. The NOT Tom Horne guy is actually worse than Tom Horne, both ethically and in terms of how utterly controlled he will be by Noble’s crew and other radical right wing interests. He would not act in a remotely independent manner as Arizona AG.