Category Archives: Arizona Congressional Races

Congress attempts a discharge petition for DACA and the DREAMers

There is a move afoot in Congress by a handful of Republicans worried about losing in November to use a discharge petition to force a vote on DACA and the DREAMers that GOP Congressional leadership pushed aside during the continuing resolution (CR) budget battles earlier this year. House Republicans, Defying Leaders, Move to Force Immigration Votes:

More than a dozen House Republicans defied Speaker Paul D. Ryan on Wednesday and moved to force a vote on immigration in the House, aiming to settle the uncertain futures of so-called Dreamers, young immigrants who were brought to this country illegally as children.

The group is gathering signatures for a so-called discharge petition, a parliamentary maneuver that could be used to circumvent Mr. Ryan by bringing legislation to the House floor with the support of a majority of members. The party out of power often uses such petitions, but they rarely succeed because a signature from a member of the party in power is seen as a betrayal of leadership.

This time around, 17 Republicans had signed as of Wednesday afternoon.

“We are well aware that the speaker’s preference was not to have this process,” said Representative Carlos Curbelo, Republican of Florida, who introduced the petition Wednesday morning. “I’ve made the argument to the speaker personally that this process actually empowers him.”

If nine more Republicans sign on, along with all House Democrats, the group will be able to revive an immigration debate that had appeared all but dead. Its goal is to force debate on four immigration-related measures, including one of the speaker’s choosing.

Under a little-used rule known as Queen of the Hill, the measure that received the most votes would be adopted, and advance to the Senate, so long as a majority of the House voted in favor. Representative Jeff Denham, Republican of California and the architect of the strategy, said such a rule could be brought up on the first and third Monday of every month. The next opportunity to do so, he said, would be June 11.

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Candidates Offer Surprises as 300+ Democrats Flock to CD2 Congressional Candidate Forum

CD2 Candidates at May 3, 2018 forum

Left to right: Mary Matiella, Billy Kovacs, Matt Heinz, Bruce Wheeler, Barbara Sherry and Yahya Yuksel.

Some 300 people packed Catalina High School yesterday night for the CD2 Congressional Democratic candidate forum held May 3, 2018, by the Represent Me AZ grassroots PAC. Here are the high points:

  • This forum showed what democracy looks like: an open, public and free event, as contrasted with GOP candidate forums which are closed, secretly announced and cost money to attend.
  • Yahya Yuksel

    Yahya Yuksel

    New candidate Yahya Yuksel, an attorney, stole the show with his articulate, quotable and confident presence. Born and raised in Tucson he has worked for Democratic campaigns since he was a teenager, including Gabby Giffords and Mayor Karin Uhlich. “I’m a young Democrat. I’m running because we see a broken Congress, we see constant war, and we see the economy not working for everybody. We need new ideas, not yesterday’s answers,” he says.

  • The candidates seethed with resentment for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) which has offended local Democrats by picking candidates so early in the primary. “It is shameful that the DCCC has taken the task, before you have had a chance to vote to endorse a candidate,” Bruce Wheeler said to loud applause. “The outside interference is something that needs to be countered.”
  • Mary Matiella zinged Matt Heinz with the question, “What are you doing different this time to make sure you win?” In 2016 Heinz lost in his run for Congress in CD2 by 44,000 votes in a race where he relied mostly on TV ads.
  • Ann Kirkpatrick made a mistake by not attending. The forum was an opportunity to capture support and deflect criticism. She leads in fundraising, winning important endorsements, and getting the DCCC support that the other candidates, not surprisingly, begrudge.
  • Heinz zinged the absent Kirkpatrick when asked if he would endorse Kirkpatrick if she wins the primary. “It is important that the Democrats nominate a Democrat, he said to loud applause. “As soon as I hear that, I will absolutely endorse them,” he says. Heinz is the leading attacker of Kirkpatrick, criticizing her northern Arizona origin and long-ago top rating from the NRA. Kirkpatrick lives in Tucson and has a “D” rating from the NRA now.
  • Veteran legislator Bruce Wheeler is apparently running a one-man campaign. He says he personally collected 95% of his signatures to get on the ballot. Wheeler has only $8,686 on hand, so he is not raising funds effectively.
  • After a one-year campaign, Mary Matiella still stumbles over her words and has a hard time making herself clear. In a bizarre argument, she said the EEOC [U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission] had been disbanded and should be brought back. This is not true — because the EEOC is still actively litigating discrimination charges and enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination.
  • Bill Kovacs boldly called for de-funding of ICE, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, which is breaking up undocumented families captured at the border. He also says that marijuana should be removed from the forbidden Schedule 1 list of drugs. His says his mother has chronic Crohn’s disease and is a marijuana patient. “When you look at what marijuana and CBD [Cannabidiol] can do for chronic pain, it is a lifeline for America, he says. 
  • Barbara “Chemtrails” Sherry has become a fringe candidate who currently does not have the 1,274 signatures needed to get on the ballot by the May 30 filing date. She bitterly and incoherently criticized front-runner Kirkpatrick.

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VP Mike Pence’s self-debasement with an implied endorsement of crazy Uncle Joe Arpaio

A ”whiter shade of pale” Mike Pence was in Phoenix this week for the GOP tax scam tour. See earlier, VP Mike Pence in Phoenix today on GOP Tax Scam Tour.

But Vice President Pence did much more than that. He gave a big wet kiss to disgraced convicted felon, crazy Uncle Joe Arpaio, whom fellow Birther conspiracy theorist Donald Trump gave his first pardon as president in order to demonstrate just how far he was willing to go to obstruct justice and to protect his circle of sycophant supporters. Was Pence’s big wet kiss meant to be an implied endorsement of Joe Arpaio by “Dear Leader” in the GOP Senate primary? (“Chemtrails” Kelli Ward and Martha McSally had a sad).

The Washington Post reported, A champion of ‘the rule of law’: Pence praises pardoned Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio:

Vice President Pence called former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted of contempt of court last year, a champion of “the rule of law” and said he was honored by his attendance at an event with him Tuesday in Arizona.

During remarks at an event in Tempe, Ariz., on tax cuts, Pence acknowledged Arpaio was in the room, suggesting he had not expected to see him.

“I just found out when I was walking through the door that we were also going to be joined by another favorite, a great friend of this president, a tireless champion of strong borders and the rule of law, who spent a lifetime in law enforcement,” Pence said.

“I’m honored to have you here,” the vice president added.

* * *

Arpaio’s conviction has done little to dampen the praise he continues to receive from the Republican establishment.

A recent Magellan Strategies poll found Arpaio running second in a three-person race with a 67 percent favorable rating among Republican primary voters.

Because haters gotta hate.

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GOP Holds 2d Secret Candidate Forum — Refuses to Let Reporter Attend

pima county tea party patriotsThe Pima County Tea Party Patriots held the second secret GOP Congressional Primary Debate among Republican candidates for Tucson’s CD2 — but refused admission to this reporter for the Blog for Arizona.

The covert rendezvous took place last night at Pima Community College Northwest campus on Shannon Road under heavy police guard. I saw candidates Brandon Martin and Danny Morales lurking by the front door, but front-runner Lea Marquez-Peterson skipped the closed event. The registrar said 80 people were expected to attend and about 60 were let in.

But not this reporter. “Frank,” a guy with double hearing aids fussed around at the registration table and said to wait. Then the word came, “you can’t come in.” I inquired further and a guy weighing 300 pounds in a T-shirt made out of an American flag said, “You’re the guy who came to the forum last month.”

“Yes, I am,” I said. He was referring to my attendance at the GOP’s March 24  secret CD 2 Congressional Candidate Forum at the Oyster Club. It seems the Tea Party Patriots read my report Fear Dominates Secret Tucson GOP CD 2 Congressional Candidate Forum and knew me on sight. They probably also read Tim Steller’s newspaper article in The Daily Star about my report.

That’s real paranoia. I’ve attended and reported on half a dozen Democratic candidate forums with no problem, including the Feb. 25 forum in Green Valley, which attracted 400 attendees.

But the Tea Party “Patriots” and the GOP don’t want a free press attending their events, even when the speakers are candidates who are running for elected public office. 

Consider what might be reported! That the candidates want Special Counsel Robert Mueller to be fired? That in the wake of mass shootings, gun laws should be loosened? That the US should pre-emptively launch a strike on North Korea? That the DACA recipients should be rounded up by ICE and deported? All of these ideas were supported by the candidates at the last forum.

It is clear that the once-vaunted Pima County Tea Party Patriots have degraded into a splinter group, becoming a secret society like the Illuminati or Scientology.

Meanwhile, I recommend you attend Thursday’s CD 2 Democratic Candidate Forum sponsored by Represent Me AZ. You’ll hear real candidates who are not afraid to let their opinions be known in public, and who welcome reporters to attend. It will start at 6:30 pm on May 3 at Catalina High School, 3645 E Pima St., Tucson, AZ 85716.

More info is at https://www.facebook.com/events/462727204182164/.

CD 8: ‘There’s something happening here …’

Taegan Goddard at the Political Wire uses rounding to make the argument that Lesko’s Margin Shrinks to Just 4 Points in the CD8 special election:

Although early results showed that Debbie Lesko (R) beat Hiral Tipirneni (R) in Arizona’s special House election by six points, 53% to 47%, the Republican’s winning margin decreased after new votes were counted: Lesko 52%, Tipirneni 48%.

Current Spread: 4.8%

Screen Shot 2018-04-27 at 10.53.02 AM

Martin Longman at the Political Animal Blog has an insightful analysis of this special election:

Harry Enten of CNN makes three important observations about the results in yesterday’s special election for Arizona’s Eighth Congressional District. Debbie Lesko, a Republican state senator, appears to have defeated Democrat Hiral Tipirneni, a physician, by five or six points [now under 5].  But it’s a district that preferred Mitt Romney to Barack Obama by 25 points and Donald Trump to Hillary Clinton by 21 points.  Overall, AZ-08 is twenty-five points more Republican than the nation as a whole. This Republican underperformance isn’t new; it’s part of a pattern we’ve seen this year and last in special elections where the Democrats are consistently doing much better than they have in the recent past.

Screen Shot 2018-04-27 at 11.04.15 AM

Enten notes that “Including Arizona 8, the average improvement for the Democrats has been 17 percentage points versus the partisan baseline. That’s better than any party out of power has done in the lead-up to a midterm cycle since at least 1994.”

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A Pyrrhic Victory in Arizona Congressional District 8 for Republicans

Hiral Tepernini and Debbie Lesko

Dr. Hiral Tepernini got 82,318 votes, or 47.4%, but lost closely to Debbie Lesko, who got 91,390 votes, or 52.6%.

There was only one bit of good news for Republicans in the Arizona Congressional District Eight Election yesterday evening. Their candidate, soon to be Freedom Caucus Member Debbie Lesko, did win. Everything else was bad news for them. The reasons are as follows:

  • President Trump won this district by 21 points. Lesko won by only a little over five. The Democrat, Dr. Hiral Tipirneni, and her team ran an excellent race, campaigning on health care, retirement security, and funding public education. She made inroads among Republicans and Independents outperforming how Secretary Clinton did in virtually every precinct.
  • The Democrats put up a fight. Dr. Tipirneni was the first Democrat to fight for this seat in six years. She and her people are smart and should learn how to build on their performance last night just in time for the electoral rematch this  November.
  • Enthusiasm is with the Democrats and Progressives for a variety of reasons ranging from an awakening for progressive solutions and disenchantment/disgust with what the President and his allies on the national and state stage offer.
  • The Republicans spent over a $1,000,000 in a “safe” district. The Democrats are probably hoping they drain their bank accounts on more of these “safe” districts. With her performance, Dr. Tipireni will probably get more attention from the National Party and small donors who see a very “gettable” seat in November.
  • This was the most conservative district in the State. Imagine what other strong Democrats can do, if recruited, in the other Congressional Districts in Arizona.

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