Why Barber Lost

We all have our particular theories on why Ron Barber lost. Here’s mine:

Sandy Hook.

In the aftermath of Sandy Hook, Ron came out with a tepid statement, including the obligatory cowardly nod to the Second Amendment.

We here at Blog For Arizona tried to help him. We started a petition drive titled Congressman Ron Barber: Take the lead in Congress to address the epidemic of mass shootings. We felt that in light of his experience it was his natural place in history to stand side-by-side with Congresswoman McCarthy of New York in leading the charge for sane gun laws. Representative McCarthy, for those who don’t know, lost her husband in a mass shooting on the Long Island Railroad in 1993. She never missed a chance to speak out.

For awhile, with Sandy Hook still in focus, it seemed like Ron took our message to heart. He did several national television interviews, although I had the sense he was holding something back. Maybe not. Maybe I just assumed there had to be more inside him.

But Ron’s post-Sandy Hook persona faded at the first opportunity, seemingly because it threatened the Republican-lite persona he and his mentors at the DCCC wanted him to portray.

How crazy. When history calls, you can’t ignore the call. Ron’s former boss, Gabby Giffords, tragically wounded in Tucson, has worked tirelessly on this very issue. Not Ron. He appeared more concerned about his Blue Dog cred.

Would the right have attacked him? Maybe, although attacking a victim in a mass shooting would be a dicey proposition, even for the NRA. And getting attacked by the gun crowd would have enhanced his image.

Oh, I know, Ron’s position on guns was okay if you bothered to hunt it down. But that should be THE thing people know about Ron. And they shouldn’t know it from a website or position statement. They should know it from all the impassioned speeches and press interviews he should have given making the case for sane gun laws. All those impassioned speeches he never gave.

This was his issue. He could have moved people. He could have made a difference. He could have stood for something. He chose not to.

Should Democrats really be wringing their hands over this one?

8 Responses to Why Barber Lost

  1. captain*arizona

    Nearly 70% of white voters vote republican. The counter is the hispanic vote that the white establishment of the arizona democratic party is afraid they will take over the democratic party and they are right! It is about time. Sorry rich old whites who want to run for state wide office your time is past.

  2. “As others have said, Dems cannot win by running as Republican Lite. People want the real thing.”

    To clarify: “People who will vote Republican want the real thing”.

    I’ll note that Dems who ran as unabashed Democrats won handily. Dems who tried to run on the mythical centrist line got creamed.

    As the saying goes “Ain’t nuthin in the middle of the road but yellow stripes and roadkill.”

  3. Yah know I don’t think Sandy Hook really had much to do with any of the elections, let alone Ron Barber’s. As others have said, Dems cannot win by running as Republican Lite. People want the real thing.

    The reason that the conservatives dominated the 2014 elections is because their wealthy backers did their damndest to get people to say ‘fuggedaboutit!’ and just stay home.

    The tsunami of negative advertising worked. A little more than half of 36% of american voters voted for the Republicans. nearly two thirds stayed home.

    Why? Because they perceive that voting simply doesn’t matter.

  4. captain*arizona

    As usual here you can’t see the forrest because the trees keep getting in the way! You all push your issues as the reason. It wasn’t because of gun control. It would have cost him more votes to come out stronger. Look at the vote hispanics were discouraged because democrats were trying to appeal to republican voters who loathe them!

    • I think if you read my post carefully, not with an eye to disagree and criticize but with an intent to understand what’s being said, you would not have made the comment you did. Do you really think I need you to point out that Democrats are stupid to try to appeal to Republican voters? Re-read at my 6th and 7th paragraphs. Moreover, to conclude gun violence is “my issue” is ludicrous. It’s not my issue. I virtually never write on it. Inequality is my issue. American empire is my issue. But gun deaths should have been Barber’s issue, for obvious reasons. Disagree if you want. That’s what the comment section is for. But disagree in a reasoned way that reflects a fair reading of the post.

  5. I voted for himand sent him some money, but I think that in addition to be being luke warm on the guns issue, environmental issues and social justice issies like minimum wage are big deals in our area. He kept saying he never did what Gabby did. For example the advertisement where she said we should be building more solar and less fossil fuel plants, that’s a statement he needed to make. While he is way more ebvironmental than McSally nowhere in his ads was there something that said that. He needed to point to something other than saving the A-10s to give progressives a reason to vote for him. Another issue that his literature talked about but he never had any advertisements was increasing the minimum wage. He may have supported that but low information voters didn’t know it. You have to be quite in people’s faces about how you are going to do the things that they want as well as how your opponent fails at that. One caveat however is that voters this cycle were constantly being told by the media how their votes did not matter because the congressional map was not in our favor, and because the rich controlled everything. If you are a voter who only votes occassionally and this is the message you are hearing every day, you are likely to think that your vote will not matter and why should you bother? The candidates are too similar and the Republicans own this cycle. How do we change that? Getting candidates to distinguish themselves by jumping in on controversial issues is important, but you also have to tell the voters that you can win.

  6. It was clear to me when Ron Barber first ran that he was not the most “natural” of politicians. And because of the nature of the district, he was always timid about taking strong stands on just about anything. When he was asked about his presidential choice in 2012, he tried to even parse that simple decision.
    That said, I did think he got better in his 2014 race. It’s hard for me to second guess what he could have done differently. Ultimately, this district leans Republican, as shown by the fact that Jim Kolbe held the seat for 20 some years.
    I hope that the new chair of the DCCC, Representative Ben Lujan of Santa Fe, changes the way Democratic candidates approach their races. The 2014 election disaster, both in Tucson and nationally, should really start to spark discussion.

  7. His failure to speak out for more stringent gun control might have been part of his problem, but I think that was symptomatic of his bigger problem: He never seemed fired up and aggressive about ANY issue that I can remember. He was timid and seemed out of his depth on everything. He acted as if his District was a lock in for him, despite the evidence of extremely close election results. To vote for Barber, I think you had to want to vote for a Democrat more than you wanted to vote for Barber. Surely next time the Democrats can come up with a better candidate.