Justin Johnson campaign and its supporters are not a good advertisement for the new “post-partisan” politics

29 Oct 2013 02:35 pm
Posted by: Donna

My pal Jo Hafford has a great diary up at DailyKos about next week’s Phoenix election wherein he details how (as municipal races in Arizona go) things have gotten nasty in the Council District 4 runoff between Laura Pastor and Justin Johnson.

Justin Johnson has, like all candidates do, made a lot of noise about how he can’t control the IEs. This is true. But he does not need to accept their support. There is no legitimate reason for him to issue statements calling for the electorate to move beyond partisanship while being silent on Putting Phoenix First pot-shotting Pastor for deserving “an ‘F’ for her Democratic spending priorities”. I have not less than 50 pieces of campaign lit sitting on the floor behind me. The IEs running negatives against Johnson are pillorying him with his associations with other organizations, while the ones running against Pastor have dredge up dead issue after dead issue. They talk about her voting for payday loan shops as if she personally legalized them – never mind contravening state statute that makes the issue moot. They accuse her of diverting tax dollars away from the classroom, when she has never been a position to do so, never mind advocating any such thing. They beat the dead horse of the food tax which our current city council under Mayor Greg Stanton’s leadership has put to rest through a smart compromise. One problematic endorsement after another has come out for Johnson, from the Conservative Business League to a de facto endorsement from Sal DiCiccio…

…As such, I have found my way to a vote for Laura Pastor. She’s not perfect, but I don’t have a perfect candidate to vote for. I can take a chance on her, and hold her accountable down the road, or I can cast no ballot and let abhorrent dirty negative politicking run the table in yet another election cycle. I can try to sift through the noise of this campaign to find the signal, or I can look at the plain facts as they are on the ground in terms of whose allies are whose. Pastor has the backing of our unions, our civil rights organizations, and our Mayor. Johnson has the backing of dark money and right wing attack dogs. I will vote for her flaws before I vote for his fleas.

Do not sit this out in protest. Protest unacceptable electioneering. Vote for Laura Pastor.

Jo is not the only careful observer of this runoff who will tell you that the vast majority of the dirt is coming from Johnson’s side. And not just the IEs. Johnson himself has dissembled about about Pastor’s attendance record on boards and commissions she’s served. All this is very interesting since, like his father, former Phoenix Mayor Paul Johnson, Justin is a centrist and a proponent of a top two primary system that would allow the two highest vote-getters in the primary to advance to the general election, irrespective of party. Top two primary backers claim this change to the system would usher in more bipartisan collaboration among elected officials and force candidates to appeal to a broader swath of the electorate than the small number of hyper-partisan voters they woo in traditional primaries. Remember the ads in the 2012 with the flowers blooming?

Justin Johnson supposedly represents the kind of pragmatic “post-partisan” politics to which we should all aspire, yet here he and his supporters are, engaging in decidedly un-flowery dirty politics. And on a purely substantive level I’ll take my politics partisan, thank you very much. That’s because there’s at least a good chance, amidst the stupidity and personal attacks that are a feature of most campaigns of any kind, that some important issues will be debated and ideological differences highlighted. If Phoenix races were partisan (as Tucson’s are) Justin Johnson might be running as the pro-business/anti-labor/moderate-on-social-issues Republican that he is and voters in what is arguably the most progressive district in Phoenix would know what they were getting.

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