LD 2 Senate Race: Dalessandro v. Kais


dalessandro-kaisThe Legislative District 2 Senate seat is currently held by Democrat Andrea Dalessandro, who previously served in the Arizona House.

(Dalessandro is the one in glasses).

Her Tea-Publican opponent, Shelley Kais, is a business woman who served as a campaign volunteer for Martha McSally during her 2012 run for Congress. Kais challenged McSally for the GOP nomination in 2014, finishing in a distant third place with less than eight percent of the vote, behind McSally and Chuck Wooten. You may recall that the local Tea Party raised a stink about McSally and Kais pulling out of a scheduled debate with Chuck Wooten in 2014.

Kais is now running for the LD 2 Senate seat as a Clean Elections candidate against Senator Dalessandro, also a Clean Elections candidate. LD 2 is a Democratic voter registration district.

Kais is backed by the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC), which lists her in its “16 in ’16: Races to Watch,” Comprised of the RSLC’s Future Majority Project (FMP) and Right Women, Right Now (RWRN) candidates running for state-level office.

According to SourceWatch, the RSLC:

“[I]s a 527 group which surged onto the political scene in 2010 in an effort to elect right-wing politicians to state offices under the direction of former George W. Bush advisor Ed Gillespie, who is closely tied to Karl Rove. RSLC was a leader in 2010 redistricting efforts favorable to Republicans and received a massive infusion of cash from Rove’s American Crossroads group. Politico has described RSLC as “one of the most influential outside players on the right.”

According to journalist Jane Mayer, the RSLC served in 2010 as a “catchall bank account for corporations interested in influencing state laws” by former chairman of the Republican National Committee and millionaire lobbyist Ed Gillespie. Mayer described the RSLC’s role in the conservative “shadow political machine” that emerged following the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court ruling in her 2016 book, Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right.

Open Secrets has a breakdown of the RSLC’s contributors.

The RSLC is believed to be behind the recent “push poll” cals in LD 2.

Shelley Kais is a right-wing politician trying to appear “moderate” to voters.  Her campaign web site “issues” page is mostly anodyne generalities, i.e., “Fund K-12 education,” “Appropriate funding of public education at all levels,” “Support career and technical education (CTE),” etc. Nothing in the way of actual policy positions.

On the “hot button” issue of the year, Prop. 123, her campaign web site is silent. One has to read the Arizona Daily Star’s summary of the race to learn her position:

Kais said voters should think of Prop. 123 as the beginning, not the end. It was a way to move forward and more ways need to be identified. She said she is confident education funding will be addressed in the next legislative session.

Yeah, that’s just more anodyne generalities with no policy specifics, and likely wishful thinking. Prop. 123 was likely the end of the education funding discussion, not the beginning, as voters were told. David Safier at the The Tucson Weekly’s The Range blog is documenting the governor’s failure to address the “next step” after Prop. 123 in education funding. Safier’s September 19 post: Ducey ‘Next Step’ Watch: Day 123: ‘Changing The Trend Line’ Edition.

Senator Dalessandro took the Democratic Caucus position on Prop. 123 (from the Daily Star):

Dalessandro called Proposition 123 “disgraceful,” but she “held my nose and voted for it.” The school funding initiative, narrowly approved by voters in a special election earlier this year, ended a years-long legal dispute between school districts and the state after state budgets left out voter-mandated increases in education spending.

The next step needs to be a plan for gradually restoring funding cuts to schools, Dalessandro said.

Dalessandro said a top problem in the state is the “systemic defunding of public education on all levels.” She favors more regulations for charter schools, opposes expansion of vouchers that send taxpayer dollars to parochial schools, and advocates for more spending on community colleges.

On the other “hot button” issue of the past legislative session, restoration of the KidsCare program, Sen. Dalessandro was a strong supporter and voted in favor of the bill.

Kais’ campaign web site again only speaks in bullet-point generalities: “Continued access to healthcare and KidsCare.” This is not exactly what she told Green Valley News Editor Dan Shearer back in May. Kais Sees a Better Way for S. Arizona:

We spoke before the state Republicans did an end run around their own leadership and got the federal KidsCare funding through on their own. Gov. Ducey signed the bill Friday.

* *

Kais said she didn’t have all the facts, but on the surface was unsure about KidsCare.

“When we sign on for a program that requires federal support then we’re getting in bed and are becoming dependent on federal funding,” she told me. “When you become dependent on federal funding, what do you do if that money goes away? So let’s take a strategic look at how we provide health care to those children.”

A Google search for Shelley Kais turned up a couple of interesting hits for her.

In an article at wingnut conspiracy theory central, World Net Daily, TB: Latest ‘Invisible Invader’ Accompanying Refugees, Kais is quoted saying:

Shelley Kais, candidate for Arizona Senate for LD 2, and a certified federal financial analyst, said, “What most Americans don’t yet understand is that the arrival of tens of thousands of Central Americans along the Southwest border is no surprise: not to the president, not to the federal government’s Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), not to the many other federal agencies whose budgets have increased in recent years in preparation for it, and not to Congress, which approves those budgets. I reached this conclusion following a thorough analysis of budgets for the Department of Health and Human Services and discovered compelling evidence that our president, executive agencies – even Congress – knew about and planned for the illegal immigrants now flooding our border.”

The Arizona Daily Star, however, asserts that Kais has since changed her tone on border issues:

Both candidates want to change the negative narrative about the U.S.-Mexico border.

* *

Kais said the border is a federal issue, but local police and sheriff are “the first line of defense for national security.” The state’s role is to support and enforce the federal rule of law and protect citizens, she said.

Kais said she feels very safe in Nogales and thinks more Arizonans should talk about the good things, like improving business conditions and safety. When she looks at the port she sees untapped opportunity for business.

Senator Dalessandro has been a strong supporter of our border communities, with regular visits to her constituents in Nogales, and to Mexico.

“People think my district is a war zone,” Dalessandro said. But it’s safe, and talk of building a wall only hurts businesses and real estate values, she said.

“I’m ticked off at politicians who come to the border for photo opportunities but they don’t try to understand the people,” Dalessandro said.

Finally, the Tucson Weekly, reporting on the Hobby Lobby decision in 2014, Candidates React to Hobby Lobby Ruling, had this quote from Kais:

Shelley Kais said the ruling “protects the religious freedom that is the right of all Americans, including employers and employees. No woman/employee has had her right to make decisions about her personal health care taken away as a result of the Supreme Court ruling. Instead, she now has the knowledge to work with employers who share her views and provide her with the benefits she wants. The ruling also restores the rights of employers in closely held corporations to decide what benefits they will provide their employees. This is a great victory for business and women alike.”

Kais has hired campaign consultant Constantin Querard (Grassroots Partners) to manage her campaign. Querard also established the conservative Arizona Family Project, a conservative anti-choice organization. Querard only represents candidates who are acceptable to the Center for Arizona Policy, where he served as its Executive Director and CAP-PAC, as well as Director of Development for Arizona Right to Life.

This tells you all you need to know how Kais would vote on issues like access to contraception, funding of Planned Parenthood, and new legislative impediments to safe, legal abortions.

Senator Dalessando is a strong supporter of Planned Parenthood, and an advocate for a woman’s constitutional right of privacy in personal health care decisions without interference from the state or one’s employer.

The Citizens Clean Elections Debate for LD 2 is scheduled for Tuesday, September 27, at 6:00 p.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn, Tucson Airport,6575 S. Country Club Road, Tucson, Arizona 85756.

NEXT: LD 2 House race.


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