Graf, Tancredo, and Buchanan: Tres Banditos en Tucson


TombayTom Tancredo (R – CO) and Bay Buchanan (sister of Pat Buchanan, director of the American Cause, and the manager of Pat’s Presidential campaigns) came to Tucson on Friday in support of Randy Graf’s unending campaign for Congress in CD8. The Bay and Tom show isn’t just a one-off for Graf’s benefit though, it is a national tour called the "Secure America Now" tour. Sound familiar? It should. It taps into the same issues and supporters that Arizona’s "Protect Arizona Now" initiative did. At the breakfast one could find many of the same people who worked on PAN, not the least of which was Randy Graf himself.

"Secure America Now" is the road show for Team America, a Political Action Committee
dedicated to border issues founded by Tom and Bay. Only by
understanding the significance of the SAN tour and the history of the
Buchanans in American politics does the full significance of the tour’s
stop in Tucson really have a useful context. Randy Graf is only a small part of the story.

The SAN tour is not just mutual support by ideologically
allied politicians. This is something much larger, and more crass. This
is anti-immigrant sentiment becoming the new centerpiece of the extreme
right agenda. This is Tom Tancredo’s shake-down run for his
Presidential campaign – one in which he may be positioning to take
Buchanan’s traditional place to right of everyone else, and Pat’s
campaign manager, Bay, as well.

The campaigns run by Bay are not
traditional campaigns. Strategically they have a lot in common with
Ralph Nader’s campaigns – they seek to pressure the moderates to deal
with ideas the fringes find compelling. Logistically they are pigeons to the Party nominee’s Air Force One – lean and mean, they can keep
going with minimal financial support. Monetarily they are as different
from a major party campaign as could be. Where losing candidates often
retire from the field with millions in debts to retire, Buchanan’s
campaigns end heavily in the black with millions in tax-payer dollars
in the bank and valuable assets, such as supporter databases, which can
be used to support a permanent state of campaigning. With Bay at the
helm of Tancredo’s tour two things are sure: it will be a very
efficiently run campaign, and it will be a very profitable one, even more so now that grassroots organizing and fund raising via the Internet has come of age.

Bay Buchanan is an experienced and canny political organizer and a
revolutionary fund-raiser. Many people looked at the Dean campaign’s
tremendous success in raising large amounts of funding from small
donations as something Sui Generis in Presidential politics. It
isn’t. Pat Buchanan’s campaigns have been doing the same thing from the
early 90s using the direct mail wizardry of Bay Buchanan. The
Buchanan’s were able to raise millions in the campaigns from small
dollar donors, and capture federal matching funds much more efficiently
that their more electorally successful competitors. Bay and Pat have
garnered as much as 40 million in federal matching funds this way. For
a complete account of the political fund raising and media empire which
Pat and Bay have built I strongly recommend a the very insightful and well-researched article by Monte Paulsen.

Possibly even more profitable than the campaigns themselves has been the
direct mail issue-oriented fund raising that Bay’s American Cause has
done between campaigns using the tremendously valuable conservative
mailing lists that the Buchanan’s campaigns have generated. Nor has Bay
been shy about selling those lists to commercial and political
interests who want to use them. A word of warning: don’t give you
personal information at conservative event associated with the Buchanans
unless you don’t mind junk mail.

Tancredo is a dark-horse and he knows it. He is a single issue candidate focused on immigration. As such, he has no chance and no intent of capturing his party’s nomination. But to make his run successful, he doesn’t have to win. Obscure little Dennis Kucinich showed all of Washington that was paying attention how to parlay a Presidential run while sitting in Congress into a platform for strengthening your name recognition, focusing public attention on your issues, gaining a national following, and vastly increasing your fund raising power and influence among your peers. Dennis even got to stand on the stage with the bug guns during the primaries and deliver his message. Those benefits are looking good to Tancredo, and it looks like Bay is willing to help him do it.

This campaign will be much like Pat Buchanan’s prior runs, self-promotional, very remunerative, and influential among the far right. I will predict now that Pat’s next book will be about immigration with a forward by Tancredo: or maybe the other way around. Bay and Tom, by founding a PAC have added a new ability to the Buchanan campaign template; the power to reward allies who give them credibility and to give credibility to allies who give them power. Thus Tom and Bay’s visit with Congressman Trent Franks in Phoenix, and their assistance to Randy Graf’s attempt to hold CD8 for the GOP in Tucson. Team America splashed out over 25K in independent expenditures on behalf of Graf when he ran against Kolbe. They also spent over $2200 on Verizon Wireless in Tucson from 6/04 to 11/04 which I have to wonder if the Graf campaign benefitted from.  Look for Team America to make an even bigger splash with independent campaign expeditures on behalf of Randy Graf as the GOP primary heats up, and yet more activity during the general.

So far Graf’s campaign has raised somewhat more than 75K; a poor fraction of what he needs. Yet Graf’s staff seemed awfully sure that somehow Graf would raise 500K for the primary. I don’t know for sure, but I would guess that much of that confidence comes from knowing that Tom and Bay are putting the list generated by the SAN tour and Bay’s direct mail wizardry and lists from her brother’s Presidential runs at Graf’s disposal. What could be better for Tom Tancredo than having another like-minded Republican in Congress to help him formulate a final solution for the illegal immigration problem?

Tancredoten1_2There are some who will let folks like Tancredo, Buchanan, and Graf off the hook, calling them nationalists, or law and order types, rather than what they really are: racists. To those people I present the evidence. If a politician were only concerned with border security, because of terrorism, drugs, slavery, etc., his policies would target only border security. These folks are concerned about security at the border, but they also vehemently oppose amnesty and assimilation of immigrants who originally came here illegally, even threatening to discipline GOP members who support any sort of amnesty. They want to somehow deport 12 million people: and they only talk about illegal immigrants as Hispanics, except when they are terrorists – unless they speak of them as both.

These folks are constantly penning screeds about how Hispanics are overrunning ‘our culture’, ‘our language’, ‘our values’, and, most importantly. ‘our ballot boxes’. They show clear signs of xenophobic panic, racial and cultural intolerance, and a desire to eliminate the ‘contamination’. If they were only concerned about the ‘criminal element’ among illegal aliens (which I would submit is no greater than among any randomly selected group of 12 million people) then they would look to consequence only criminals; instead they define them all as criminals based on their status no matter how much they contribute to their new society.

And then there are the ‘Reconquista’ myths and conspiracy theories. QED. These folks are just racists.

These folks mind-set is plain in everything they do. When I was at the breakfast, there were a group of people from the Pima County Interfaith Council and other politically opposed groups who infiltrated the meeting. At one point several stood up with signs reading "Real Solutions for Real People". Those signs where violently ripped away and the the protesters assaulted in escorting them from the venue. But that’s not what is so revelatory. One of the volunteer staff who was holding a camera came up behind a PCIC member named Petra who had no sign and had not stood up to chant and he angrily indicated to a security person to eject her from the venue. What had she done? Listened to Tancredo while Hispanic. Graf’s staffer ejected Petra simply for being Hispanic. Petra was racially profiled. These people are just racists camouflaging themselves as nationalists.