Arizona Congressional District Eight includes parts of Western and Northern Phoenix (Peoria, Litchfield Park, Sun City West, Glendale, and New River).
The district, as it is presently constituted, once thought of as a Republican stronghold, saw two competitive and exciting elections in 2018 with Dr. Hiral Tipirneni giving a serious challenge to Debbie Lesko that prompted Republican fears that the district would be lost.
Dr. Tipirneni did lose both elections and has since decided to run for the Congressional District Six Democratic nomination.
That means Debbie Lesko is a “lock” to win in 2020.
Not so fast.
Even with Dr. Tipirneni competing in a different Congressional District Six, a strong and viable Democratic Congressional District Eight candidate can run a solid campaign and defeat Debbie Lesko next year.
Michael Muscato is a candidate that voters should consider in the 2020 Congressional Eight Elections.
A former baseball player who was drafted by the New York Yankees, Mr. Muscato, a devoted husband and father of two sons, has thrived as an entrepreneur running a gym (Crossfit ArchAngel) with his wife. He has also run for office, losing in his quest to become the State Senator from Legislative District 22 in 2016.
Mr. Muscato hopes to channel all of his life’s experiences in defeating incumbent Ms. Lesko, an individual who has distinguished herself in Washington by not serving the interests of the people in Congressional District Eight.
Mr. Muscato graciously sat down at the Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Capital of the Valley, Lolas, to discuss his background and positions on the important issues of the day.
The questions and his responses are below.
- Please explain the reason you have chosen to run for the United States House of Representatives.
“Is this election personal for me? You bet it is, and it should be for you too. For my entire life, my hometown has been ruled by one party and mostly the same handful of people (my opponent being one of them). The failed policies of our elected officials have shown their effects to our education, our financial security, our retirees quality of life, our small businesses, and our ability to provide for our families. My hometown has needed a fighter, someone who is willing and able to stand up and take the dirty punches and keep moving forward. Someone who speaks to and for everyone, not just for corporations and lobbyists who financially fund their campaigns. I am that person for my hometown and taking on this challenge for my fellow Arizonans is the greatest honor of my life. My platform and policies are not made from a political party. They are formed from this very district to which I was born and raised. Our hometown is always worth fighting for.”
- Please explain what are at least two qualifications for the House that makes you the better candidate than Debbie Lesko.
“My professional career includes professional baseball, being a small business owner, and management in the music entertainment industry. Each of these professions has taught me accountability, responsibility, and more than anything else a focus on getting the job done. There are no excuses in my line of work, only performance. If I don’t do my job, I’m replaced. I’m bringing that same tenacity, drive, hunger, and work ethic to Washington D.C. We need a doer, not a complainer.”
“First, as I have demonstrated already with the development of my healthcare plan AmeriCare and my immigration reform proposal, I’m willing to do the hard work necessary to solve problems, rather than sitting around complaining and waiting for someone else to write Bills and Amendments for me. She says she’s for preserving protection for people with preexisting medical conditions yet voted against the Protecting Americans with Preexisting Conditions Act. She says she’s for securing the border, but voted against the “Border Security and Immigration Reform Act of 2018.” She goes to Luke AFB and says she wants to ensure we have the best military, yet has consistently voted against Defense appropriations bills. I know the two best things about Debbie Lesko are her face, but this isn’t how you do what’s best for America.”
“The second and most important qualification is my ability and willingness to speak with, listen to and learn from people from different perspectives and parties. Unlike Debbie Lesko, who clearly thinks the only people who know everything are just like her, I know that not to be true. Yes, people can have different perspectives, but that doesn’t mean their ideas for solving problems are the most informed. You can’t say “2 + =4” because you need the rest of the information to solve the problem. Again, if you look at AmeriCare, you’ll see a lot of it comes from those who know healthcare, insurance, and existing programs. You’re never going to solve people’s problems if you don’t speak with them.”
- What are the three major issues you will center your campaign on?
“Healthcare, Immigration, Corporate/Political Corruption.”
- With regards to health care, please describe your Americares proposal.
“AmeriCare is the healthcare proposal I personally came up with as a solution to the fact our two political parties do nothing but talk. The Republican Party and my opponent have done nothing in more than 8 years to better or replace the ACA. They repeatedly work to eliminate healthcare for those with pre-existing conditions and try and cut programs all Americans pay into such as Medicare. The Democratic Party has continued to push Medicare for All which even our own party cannot agree on how it happens and the GOP has labeled any such plan as dead on arrival. We cannot afford to wait another decade. We need a solution now. AmeriCare can be the answer we need. It accomplishes reducing costs for employers, out of pocket costs for individuals and families, covers Veterans at 100%, and clearly lays out how we will cut costs and drive revenue to fund the program. The feedback from both Republicans and Democrats has been very positive. AmeriCare isn’t perfect, but it’s a solid framework for how we can approach cutting costs to prescription drugs, hospitals, administration, malpractice, and inflated insurance premiums.”
- In your opinion, should the federal minimum wage go up to $15.00 an hour or be adjusted depending on the region of the country you live in?
“The minimum wage needs to be increased. The only way a family of four can survive on the current $7.25/hour is if all of them work. The cost of gas is generally the same nationally. The cost of healthcare is essentially the same nationally. The cost of clothing is essentially the same nationally. If you go to Walmart and buy kids clothes, you’re not paying much of a difference whether you’re in Phoenix or Flagstaff, so why shouldn’t there be a livable, national minimum? Should there be differences? Sure, but I would leave that up to the state and local governments to make those decisions. They’re closer to the problem than people in Washington, DC.”
- Do you support the Green New Deal or another proposal (like those from Governor Inslee, Beto O’Rourke, or the advocates behind the Green Real Deal)?
“The Climate Crisis shouldn’t be a crisis because we’ve known this day was coming for decades. We’re at this point because special interests have successfully fought what would have been modest proposals for longer than I’ve been alive that, if we would have done those, would have created new industries, higher-paying jobs and saved the environment long before now.”
“That said, there are things to like in all of the proposals and there are things that people are spinning to be more than they are and less than they are. Our focus should be on the solution, not the name of the bill or who sponsored it. What’s important first is how we frame it and then how our solutions solve the problem.”
“Spending money to save the planet that gives us life shouldn’t be a cost issue, it’s a survival issue. We either address the problem or we leave an increasingly unlivable planet for our children. I have two young sons, so this is personal to me, as it should be for others.”
“Unlike Debbie Lesko, I understand that spending money on saving the environment doesn’t go into a black hole. It’s not a wasted expense. It creates industries. it creates jobs. The automotive industry is focusing on producing electric car, trucks and tractor-trailer vehicles, and they’re doing this -without- government telling them to. Why? Because they see the writing on the wall and are being much more responsible than Debbie Lesko could ever be. And that’s what we need to be: responsible.”
- What is your view on the moves towards clean elections and election security reform contained in HR 1?
“If the Russian attack on our country taught us anything, it’s that they and other enemies will to it again and again until we stop them. I support H.R. 1 and I also support the SAFE Act, both of which Debbie Lesko opposed, which tells us how much she thinks about protecting our country.”
- In the aftermath of the tragic mass shootings, what are at least two gun control solutions that you support?
“I’m a gun owner. I have lots of Democratic and Republican friends who own guns. This shouldn’t be that hard, but we all know why it is. I support restrictions on large magazines, universal background checks for public and private arms sales to non-family members, allow the CDC to study gun violence and publicly report all of their findings, and require mental health coverage in standard health insurance policies.”
“What’s driving a lot of the opposition to these reasonable changes is fear. Fear that Democrats are coming to take your guns. I would remind people that for that to happen, two things must occur. First, there needs to an Act of Congress repealing the Second Amendment. The Second thing is that 38 states have to agree. The reality is with more guns in homes than people, the chances both of those happening are nil. People are told to be afraid of something that will never happen.”
- A Four part question:
- Please describe at least two ways you would strengthen all of the nation’s borders?
- Do you feel illegal border crossings should be decriminalized and please give one reason?
- Please describe two ways you would promote legal immigration.
- Please describe two ideas you have on what should be done with Dreamers and otherwise law-abiding illegal immigrants that have been in the country for several years.
“The answer to all four of these questions is the same: comprehensive immigration reform. By breaking it into parts you actually make solving the problem more difficult because people compartmentalize the solution to those problems individually without thinking the broader impacts or what the real problem, which is our laws are outdated for our needs and they need to be revised.”
“If you reform the visa laws so people who want to come here to work and go home can do so easily, then you reduce the need for people to come illegally. What makes anyone think they WANT to come illegally? Why wouldn’t they want to come legally? What’s the incentive; to make less money? Yeah, sign me up. It makes no sense.”
“If people come legally, then what purpose does a wall serve? We could spend that money on upgrading our visa and border services so rather on looking for cooks, maids, and laborers, they’re looking for smugglers?”
“If people come here legally, why do they need coyotes? Let’s put them out of business.”
“If your assumption is the status quo, then DREAMers and otherwise law-abiding immigrants should have a path to legal status. If they want to become citizens, they can go through the process just like everyone else, but we should not wait to get started. To answer your question, first, unlike Debbie Lesko, I would have voted for H.R. 6, the American Dream and Promise Act. Second, I would work towards comprehensive immigration reform so we don’t have to deal with these problems in the first place.”
- Do you think President Trump should be impeached and please give two reasons for your response?
“People need to be aware there is a difference between a Congressional Impeachment Inquiry and actual Impeachment. The former has to occur before the latter. Having read the entire Mueller Report, and unlike Debbie Lesko I actually comprehend what it says, it is clear there is substantial evidence in Part II of action by the President that requires a Congressional investigation. I believe such an investigation should take place. Only then, when everyone who needs to testify has been heard and all of the evidence presented should an Impeachment hearing be undertaken.”
“I understand many people are impatient, but the process must be deliberate, otherwise we give future Congress’ the ability to abuse the process, and if you look at recent history, take it to the bank they will.”
- Is there anything you would like the readers to know about you or your candidacy that the above questions did not fully convey?
“I refuse to be typecast by Republicans as less patriotic, less fiscally responsible, or socialist just because I’m a Democrat. Given the incumbent, I, and other Democrats can run rings around their support for Russian attacks on our elections, tax cuts to people who don’t need them while adding trillions to the debt, or postponing immigration reform because they need it as a campaign issue instead of doing anything about it.”
“This campaign is about getting things done. It’s about looking at problems and working to solve them. It’s about being responsible to previous and future generations fiscally, educationally, morally, and environmentally. Debbie Lesko’s campaign is about the past and trying desperately to make sure we stay there. This campaign is about doing what’s best for the country and between myself and Debbie Lesko, I’ll do the work she refuses to do because our hometown is always worth fighting for.”
“People also need to know that my charm and good looks alone won’t defeat Debbie Lesko. It requires resources and that means campaign donations and volunteers. Democrats can no longer wait for the election cycle to officially start to begin donating to campaigns. We’re not going to win if we handicap ourselves financially. Republicans aren’t waiting, why should Democrats? If you want to change America, you have to invest in it and now is the time to do so at muscato4congress.com.”
While representing Arizona Congressional District Eight as a member of the House of Representatives, Debbie Lesko has voted against:
- Raising the minimum wage.
- Holding the Trump Administration accountable.
- Condemning Mr. Trump’s racist comments.
- Equality for members of the LGBTQ community
- Investments in education, health care, and science.
- Safeguarding our election system.
- Protecting patients with Preexisting Conditions.
- Reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act.
- Pay Fairness
- Background Checks for Gun Purchases
What part of this voting record will the majority of the voters in Congressional District Eight find appealing?
It is time to consider an alternative to the reactionary and backward philosophical approach Ms. Lesko offers her constituents.
Michael Muscato offers a vision that voters in Congressional District Eight may find attractive.
He is a candidate they should consider supporting in 2020.
He is a candidate the State and National Democratic Party should consider investing more in during this next electoral cycle.