“I understand the district,” he said at a home reception in my own Precinct 238. “This is the district where Hillary won by 15,000 votes.”
Indeed, Wheeler was a state representative for Tucson from 1975-1977, a Tucson City Council member from 1987-1995, and state representative again from 2011 to 2017.
This gives him name recognition, which will be backed up by a door-to-door initiative and a social media campaign. Wheeler knows how to win elections.
It also gives him a leg up on other candidates like carpetbagger Ann Kirkpatrick – who has the backing of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and ex-Congressman Ron Barber – and candidate Mary Matiella, who has the backing of Bill Roe, the First Vice Chairman of the AZ Democratic Party.
2. McSally is vulnerable this year, especially because she voted against health insurance for 22 million Americans. “I am absolutely convinced she will be defeated,” Wheeler said. “She is an enabler for Donald Trump’s policies.”
Wheeler favors Medicare for all.
“It’s an idea whose time has come,” he said. “Universal healthcare is a human right and it makes economic sense. Why are we tinkering around the edges and working with a middleman – the insurance companies? Medicare works just fine and dandy. It’s efficient and it works.”
In contrast, McSally owns Trumpcare.
“She supported Trumpcare, she was one of the cheerleaders. We heard her rallying cry ‘let’s get this bleeping thing done.’ When I was in the legislature in 2013, we passed Medicaid expansion which added 150,000 people to the program. That is the difference between Martha McSally and me.”
3. Wheeler is bilingual, which should be handy in a district that is now majority Hispanic. You heard right, after dramatic growth from 2000 to 2005, minorities now outnumber Anglos in Tucson. Wheeler grew up in Venezuela, Columbia, Equador, and Peru and spoke Spanish to his Mom. ¡Muy bien!
4. Wheeler will fight the spread of school vouchers. It’s bad enough that Gov. Ducey signed Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) program into law, but now Trump wants to use Ducey’s law nationwide. This is the first step in the privatization of public education funded by taxpayer dollars. School vouchers are primarily used by more-affluent families to subsidize their private-school tuition at the expense of public education.
5. Wisdom counts. At age 68, Wheeler has twice the experience as another candidate who is 30.
6. Wheeler will be a voice in Congress to act on climate change. “Global warming is an existential issue. It is not something that can be put off,” he said
“It’s whether we’re going to have a planet envisioned by Kurt Vonnegut’s ‘Requiem – The Crucified Planet Earth’ or if we’re going to have Henry David Thoreau’s idea of a beautiful planet that is a canvas for creativity and beauty.”
7. Wheeler believes he can overcome the Koch brothers’ dark money. “No Democrat will match McSally dollar-for-dollar. She raised $7.9 million in 2016. We will raise money from grass-roots contributions from individual people,” he said.
“Nationally we have the dark money issue. We’re beginning to lose the essence of our democracy. Is it of, by and for the people? Or is it who has the most money to buy and influence candidates?” he asked.
He identified the dark money villains:
- Sean Noble has run campaigns for Ducey and worked with his chief of staff, Kirk Adams. Noble is the former distributor of Koch dark money. The Federal Election Commission levied +$200,000 in fines against three dark money groups for failing to report contributions from an organization run by Noble.
- Kirk Adams is Gov. Doug Ducey’s chief of staff. He and Noble coordinated two shady “pro-business” groups that spent heavily in during the 2012 elections to fight increased education funding in California. Adams and Noble went to such great lengths to hide their donors, that they were fined $1 million by the state of California for violating campaign finance laws.
- Jim Norton, a lobbyist, also has a strong personal relationship with Ducey, whom he has known since college. Photos of the two appeared on Norton’s Facebook page. Norton was indicted in June 2017 in federal court on charges of bribery, conspiracy, and fraud.
“My record, the name recognition, our strategy of walking and using social media, and the argument that we have of being superior to our opponents will lead us to victory,” he said.