You will recall that two years ago a woefully unqualified Tea-Publican candidate ran for Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction, Diane Douglas. Let’s just say that she had a “unique,” if not entirely asymmetrical way of campaigning for office. The invisible candidate:
The Republican candidate for school superintendent — a key influencer of education policy in Arizona — has been nearly invisible to parents, teachers and her opponent in the two months since the primaries.
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Staffers for her Democratic opponent, David Garcia, say there have been 16 candidate debates or forums since the primary when Garcia was the sole candidate present. She did participate in the Clean Elections debate on PBS’ “Horizon,” which she was required to attend. But that’s it.
Douglas’ backers would claim you can hear her chatting on the phone with friendly interviewers on conservative talk radio. The interviewers tee up her one talking point: The Common Core standards represent a massive federal takeover of education in Arizona.
But Douglas won’t debate that point. She won’t even discuss it with anyone outside her echo chamber.
Douglas’ strategy, assuming that’s what it is, makes political sense: Just be quiet and ride the built-in Republican voting advantage to victory. Her race is far down the ballot, so it doesn’t have the high profile of other races and might get more reflexive GOP votes.
This cynical strategy worked. In an historically low voter turnout election, Diane Douglas was able to rely on Tea-Publican voters who reflexively vote out of GOP tribalism for anyone with an “(R)” behind his or name on the ballot. More Tea-Publicans voted than did Democrats in 2014, hence Douglas’ narrow victory that quite literally shocked everyone in Arizona.
Apparently Tea-Publican candidates this year are taking a page from the “Diane Douglas way” of running for office. I have spoken to several candidates who tell me that their Tea-Publican opponent has not submitted candidate questionnaires to the media, have not shown up for editorial board endorsement interviews, and have not participated in any debates or candidate forums (unless they were required to do so as a Clean Elections candidate).
This “Diane Douglas way” of running for office demonstrates contempt for the media, contempt for the voters’ right to be well informed, and contempt for the voters’ right to challenge the candidates with questions about their qualifications and stances on important issues at candidate debates and forums.
It demonstrates a fundamental contempt for the American democratic process of elections.
If you are a Democratic candidate who has had this experience with your Tea-Publican opponent, or you are a member of the media or a civic group that has tried and failed to schedule a candidate debate or forum, or you are a member of the editorial board of one of Arizona’s media outlets, you need to be informing the voters that this is going on. The public has a right to know that the GOP is employing this tactic.
Please feel free to post your experiences in the comments.
Note: Arizona Horizon Eight (PBS) has a CD 1 Congressional Debate presently scheduled for September 28.
The League of Women Voters of Greater Tucson had a U.S. Senate Forum scheduled for October 10 at the Mesa Community College Performing Arts Center in Mesa, but that forum has been cancelled.
I am not finding any debates, other than Clean Elections debates, advertised by any of the usual debate sponsors. If you know of any, please post the information in the comments with a link so that we can follow up.
UPDATE: The Republic now reports Kirkpatrick, McCain to face off in Republic/Arizona PBS debate:
Arizona’s major-party U.S. Senate candidates have agreed to their first, and likely only, debate of the 2016 election, in an event sponsored by The Arizona Republic and Arizona PBS.
The debate between Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick and Sen. John McCain will be held on Oct. 10 at 7 p.m. in the studios of Arizona PBS. The candidates will discuss foreign, domestic and regional issues.
The moderators will be Arizona PBS’ Ted Simons and The Republic’s Yvonne Wingett Sanchez. Questions for the candidates will be chosen by the moderators and editors of sponsoring organizations, as well as suggested by the public through social media.
The debate will air live on Arizona PBS, azcentral.com and Facebook/azcentral.
So a single debate in a TV studio without an audience of voters allowed to ask the candidates questions. That John McCain is one courageous guy, isn’t he? He will only appear in front of his political base, the McMedia.