Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
Who said this? Jason Rose, Arizona GOP political strategist. No, really.
Pema Levy reports at Talking Points Memo A ‘Political Greek God’: Even Republicans Think Carmona Has a Chance In Arizona:
“Political Greek god,” “amazing” and “tremendous” are all words used to describe Arizona Democratic Senate candidate Richard Carmona — by Republicans.
Many Arizona Republicans think the Democrat who was personally tapped by President Obama to run could be the first Democrat Arizonans send to the Senate in 22 years.
His compelling biography is a big reason why.
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But given the bare-knuckled brawl for control of the United States Senate, which has turned nasty in several other states, it’s rare to find a close race in which members of the opposing party are willing to speak so glowingly about the competition.
“Zeus,” Arizona GOP strategist Jason Rose said, “sent the Democratic Party here a political Greek god.”
“It’s a great story. It’s a beautiful story,” said Grant Woods, a former Republican attorney general of Arizona. “It makes people want to root for him, just like Barack Obama had a great story.”
Carmona is often compared to Janet Napolitano, the most successful Arizona Democrat in recent history, who won three statewide races before being joining the Obama administration to run the Department of Homeland Security.
“She was able to upend Matt Salmon,” said Rose, who advised Mitt Romney in Arizona in 2008 and supports him this time around, referring to Napolitano’s 2002 gubernatorial win in a very Republican year. “Can Carmona repeat what Napolitano was able to achieve? It’s certainly possible.”
“He has the potential to be an even better candidate than Napolitano,” said Woods. “Again that’s potential right now. … Janet, in all three of her statewide races, she executed flawlessly. I mean, there were no missteps. She did an excellent job. But on paper, I think Carmona starts in a much better position as a candidate than she did.”
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“I think [Carmona has] the best resume that has run for political office in Arizona since John McCain in 1982,” said Rose. “You can make the argument that it’s the best bio to ever run for office in Arizona.”
Rose said Carmona is not just good on paper, either. He saw him in person and was “thoroughly impressed.”
Republicans who spoke with TPM believed that their party, still embroiled in a primary to determine who will go up against Carmona, are not taking the Democrat seriously enough. The favorite on the Republican side is Rep. Jeff Flake, but he’s still trying to fend off Wil Cardon, an independently wealthy, tea party-style businessman.
“I don’t think Republicans are looking far enough into the future right now,” said Dell’Artino, who thinks a bloody primary could push both Republicans to the right in the coming months and hurt the GOP nominee in the general election. Republicans may be stuck in the past, said Rose, made too comfortable by the Democratic fields in recent cycles that he called “anemic on its best day.”
Once Republicans get their nominee, they will be tasked with attacking what even members of their own party believe is a formidable candidate.
“They’re going to have to compete with him just on the issues,” said Dell’Artino, and “provide him as little opportunity as possible to talk about his background.” The more Carmona talks about his background, Dell’Artino believes, “the more appealing he becomes for middle-of-the-road voters and certainly attractive for women voters,” whom he describes as “the most precious commodity” in Arizona politics. “Allowing him to tell his personal story is detrimental to Republican candidate.”
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Carmona has a shot if he can get independents and some moderate Republican voters. Woods points to his time as surgeon general, when Carmona both served under a president from the opposing party, and then stood up to the administration when he believed it was politicizing scientific issues.
“I think that’s probably what people are looking for,” said Woods, who said he’s considering voting for Carmona himself.