Tag Archives: Billy Kovacs

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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Ann Kirkpatrick is Front Runner at Candidates Forum for Tucson’s Congressman

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Tucson congressional candidates Mary Matiella, Matt Heinz, Barbara Sherry, Bruce Wheeler, Ann Kirkpatrick and Bill Kovacs unanimously raise their hands in favor of supporting renewable energy.

Former Congressman Ann Kirkpatrick emerged as the Democratic candidate with the best chance to be elected to Congress in Tucson at a candidates forum watched by 400 people Sunday in Green Valley.

I’ve studied and met all the candidates and heard them three times at previous candidate forums. My conclusion is that Kirkpatrick has the Congressional experience, common-sense positions, and key political backing to beat the upcoming river of poisonous money from the Koch brothers during this year’s elections.

The Democrat who wins the August 28 primary will likely oppose Lea Márquez-Peterson, a Republican who is closely linked to Kochbot Gov. Doug Ducey. She operates several Hispanic chambers of commerce and is noted for her business bankruptcies.

Knows the job & has support

Kirkpatrick knows the job, having served in Congress from 2013 to 2017 in northern Arizona. Impressively, she has raised a record $750,000 in the campaign’s first five months, with $465,000 cash on hand. She has the endorsement of former Congress members Gabby Giffords and Ron Barber, and she has the backing of the national Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

She disagreed with all the other candidates on the subject of Medicare for All, an idea that Progressives cheer but which has no known funding source. “I don’t support Medicare for all in a single-payer system because I don’t see a way to pay for it all,” she said, noting that 140 million people already get health insurance from their employers. However, she said people should be able to buy into Medicare especially when there is no reasonable option to get health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

Regarding gun safety, Kirkpatrick says she has changed her position. Nine years ago she had an “A” rating from the NRA, but in 2016 she was given a “D” rating by the gun lobby. Continue reading

Billy Kovacs Outlines 5-Point Plan to Grow Arizona’s Economy

Democratic Congressional Candidate Billy Kovacs

Democratic Congressional Candidate Billy Kovacs

Democratic candidate Billy Kovacs outlined a detailed plan for how he would grow Arizona’s economy as Tucson’s Congressman.

“We can grow our economy without giving massive tax breaks for corporations,” he said at a recent meeting of the Democrats of Greater Tucson.

Among the five serious candidates, Kovacs is the only one emphasizing the economy in Congressional District 2. As Bill Clinton pointed out in 1992, winning elections is about “the economy, stupid!”

In a nutshell, his plan focuses on:

  • Education – creating an educated workforce.
  • Renewable resources – solar energy and energy storage.
  • Public transportation – expanding the Tucson streetcar in all directions and preserving Amtrak in Arizona.
  • Infrastructure – creating millions of jobs with a $1 trillion investment over 10 years.
  • Immigration – creating a path to citizenship for 11.3 million unauthorized immigrants.

“We need to attract companies and workers to Arizona, and I’m talking about smaller companies that want to live in Arizona because of our natural resources and trained personnel from the university — and not for tax breaks,” he said.

Education

According to Kovacs, the US Department of Education is gutting public education with budget cuts to after-school programs, teacher training, Pell Grants, literacy programs and even school lunches. He calls for:
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Congress Candidate Ann Kirkpatrick Vows to Take on GOP

Vowing to take on the Republican leadership over unfair tax reform, trashing the environment, and sabotaging education, Congressional candidate Ann Kirkpatrick said it’s time for a Democrat to represent Tucson in Washington.

She got a warm welcome at the Democrats of Greater Tucson meeting on Monday.

“My focus is on holding (House majority leader) Paul Ryan accountable,” she said. “He is complicit. We have a slight chance of taking back the majority in the House, and we could be a check on Trump and hold him responsible.”

Kirkpatrick is considered the favorite by national news outlets in the crowded Democratic race to take back Congressional District 2. “Hillary won by 5 points in this district, and it should be a Democratic seat,” she said. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee named Kirkpatrick in its Red to Blue program, which highlights strong Democratic candidates and opens doors to donors.

Kirkpatrick has the endorsement of former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, Rep. Ruben Gallego, EMILY’s List and End Citizens United.
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400 Turn Out to Hear Democratic Congressional Candidates

400 Democratic primary voters turned out at the candidate forum at Rincon High School.

400 Democratic primary voters turned out at the candidate forum at Rincon High School.

Illustrating the intense interest among Democrats in ousting Martha McSally from Congress, 400 people turned out to hear five Democratic congressional candidates at a forum organized by the progressive PAC Represent Me AZ.

A show of hands revealed that the audience was made up of primary voters. They showed up on a Thursday evening 10 months prior to the primary, looking for the candidate who can recapture the District 2 seat in Tucson.

And it may turn out that McSally will bail on re-election as she considers running for Flake’s Senate seat.

All the Democratic candidates supported a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, allowing women on Medicaid to use Planned Parenthood, restoring funding for the Affordable Care Act, requiring a background check for gun purchases, and opposing changes to boundaries of national monuments.

As a precinct committeeman, I listened for a candidate who would most interest voters on door-to-door visits. Here’s my take.

Candidates who have been elected to office

Bruce Wheeler is the candidate with the most-clearly expressed platform. He emphasized his support for Medicare for all. “Each one of us knows someone that’s on Medicare. It works, it’s efficient, and it’s cost-effective. It’s already covering the most expensive section of the population, and by making it universal we strengthen it,” he said.

Calling for action on climate change, Wheeler said, “it is an existential issue, a ticking time bomb. Every year we go backwards is robbing future generations of a healthy planet.”
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