ClownCarThe GOP Clown Car Primary for Governor held its Citizens Clean Elections debate Monday night on KAET Channel 8 (video replay not yet posted). Wow. These guys really put the “goober” in gubernatorial debates.

Only one candidate, former Mesa Mayor Scott Smith, sounded semi-sane which, of course, means that he is automatically disqualified as a RINO among GOP primary base voters.

“Cathi’s Clown” Doug Ducey and GoDaddy Girl Christine Jones continue to try to convince GOP primary base voters that they are the most virulently anti-immigrant candidate, but these poseurs clearly are not. GOP primary base voters know in their heart of hearts that Saint Andrew Thomas is the only proven anti-immigrant champion in this primary. You know him, you love him, you really want him. C’mon, just do it.

A recent poll by Arizona’s shadow governor Chuck Coughlin and his HighGround Public Affairs Consultants of high efficacy GOP primary voters found that 62.8% believe that immigration and border issues are their top concern, and 65.3% call it a major issue crisis. I’m guessing the vast majority of them never have any day-to-day contact with an undocumented immigrant, so this must be an existential crisis.

While the vast majority of respondent would likely identify themselves as “good Christians,” fully 66.3% of GOP primary voters want to immediately return unaccompanied refugee children back to their homeland without any deportation hearing or due process. WWJD? I’m pretty sure the answer is not “kick ’em to the curb.”

Most surprisingly,  58% of GOP primary voters are willing to violate the First Commandment of the Republican Party, “Thou shalt not raise taxes,” in order to secure the border and increase immigration enforcement.

But raise taxes to close Arizona’s structural revenue deficit in the budget or to pay for public education, health care, transportation, infrastructure and job creation? Never! You moochers and takers in the 47% are on your own.

This is a political party with some seriously out-of-touch effed up priorities. This state is barrelling down the tacks towards an economic train wreck, and all GOP primary voters care about is whether someone is breathing while brown in Arizona.

No matter what the question, the answer is always the same: immigration and the border. Howard Fischer reports, Economy depends on border control, governor candidates say:

The questions were about improving Arizona’s economy.

But the answers provided during a televised debate Monday night by several Republican gubernatorial hopefuls were about securing the border, insisting the issues are linked. And some want to spend state tax dollars to do it.

Andrew Thomas cited a Center for Immigration Studies report that said all new jobs created since 2000 “have been taken by immigrants, legal and illegal.” The former Maricopa County Attorney said to fix high unemployment, “start with the obvious.” [Check out Center for Immigration Studies – SourceWatch]

Former GoDaddy executive Christine Jones wants to spend money to send the National Guard to the border and construct additional miles of fence. She insists Arizona can simply send the bill for all that to Congress. [Governor Janet Napolitano sent George W. Bush the bill for the cost of enforcement when she was governor. The bill remains past due and unpaid.]

State Treasurer Doug Ducey said everything would be on the table. He said that includes “reprioritizing” the $300 million budget of the state Department of Public Safety and working with local sheriffs to focus on illegal immigration.

Secretary of State Ken Bennett chided Jones, pointing out that Arizona has sent invoices to Washington before for things like paying the costs of incarcerating illegal immigrants who violate state laws.

“You’re not going to pay for it with a magic wand,” he said. “And you’re not going to pay for it by sending the bill to Congress because they’ve already not paid several bills.”

Former Mesa Mayor Scott Smith echoed the sentiment.

“I would love to say as governor I’m going to wave the magic wand and say here’s what we’re going to do,” he said. “But then reality sets in, and the fact here is that nobody’s talking reality.” [True that!]

And former California Congressman Frank Riggs said the governor does have some responsibility in helping secure the border.

“But that has to be a combined federal, state and local response,” he said. “And to constantly blame illegal immigrants for every challenge that we have as a state is absolutely irresponsible.” [A brief moment of lucidity]

Smith sought to keep the focus on the economy and job creation, referring to the study Thomas cited.

“That kind of begs the question: If every single one has been taken by an illegal immigrant, … we are in worse trouble from an economic standpoint than an immigration standpoint because we’re not creating any high-quality jobs,” he said. “I don’t think the people who are crossing the border and walked across the desert are walking into that high-paying engineering job.”

That brought a sharp response from Thomas, who corrected Scott, pointing out, “I said legal and illegal in case you weren’t listening.”

Ducey chided Smith and other foes of more spending to secure the border for their attitudes.

He said claims the state can stop illegal immigration, or pay for such an effort, are false. “Which budget are you going to cut to transfer that?” he said.

Voters need to focus on the economy and not get sidetracked on various promises of what a new governor might be able to do about immigration, Smith said.

“We’ve only recovered half of the jobs we lost during the recession,” he said. He added that Arizona is lagging far behind even California, also hard-hit during the downturn, but which has recovered all its lost jobs despite having what might be “the worst business tax and regulatory environment in the country.”

But Smith said the problem in Arizona goes deeper.

“We’re not only recovering jobs at a slower rate,” he said. “But the quality of jobs we are recovering are basically minimum-wage jobs. They’re not the high-quality jobs that we lost.”

Ducey promised to sign a moratorium on new state regulations the first day he takes office, not withstanding the fact there already is one in place, put there by incumbent Jan Brewer. [Doh!]

* * *

Riggs was undeterred by questions of lower state tax revenues, saying the change “will pay for itself, in stimulation and job creation.” [I believe in unicorns!]

While that helps manufacturers, Smith noted it leaves out service-oriented businesses that do not make large capital purchases.

Jones was a bit less specific, promising to “streamline” the state tax code.

And Thomas reiterated his contention that border security “dwarfs all other issues.”

God help us if any of these dangerous clowns is elected governor in November. We have got to elect Democrat Fred DuVal the next governor of Arizona, or it’s time to head for the exits.

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