Crossposted at DemocraticDiva.com
Former Mesa Mayor and AZ GOP Gubernatorial candidate Scott Smith got an undeniable boost on Thursday. He was not only endorsed by Governor Brewer (which everyone expected would happen, though it’s curious that they waited until after mail-in ballots dropped to do it) but AZ Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill swiftly cancelled a meeting with Smith backers in which he was going to try and get them to switch to Doug Ducey. This is a big deal. Smith’s team reports a big bump in fundraising overnight and, with Christine Jones’ campaign fading fast, Smith has a real chance in that primary. Smith will enjoy strong LDS support now that Ken Bennett is no longer a contender and it looks like he’s going to take business establishment support away from Ducey. (I still consider Ducey the favorite based on his early fundraising advantage, all the name ID he’s gotten with his feud with Jones, the continued dark money support from radical right wing moneybags, and the tendency of GOP primary voters to select the biggest asshole who is also electable in the general.)
Needless to say, this Scott Smith development caused a resurgence in the cooing and swooning that tends to overtake some of the more softhearted liberals/left-of-center types in Arizona where he is concerned. It’s so bad at this point that I’ve seen some Democrats bragging on Facebook how they changed their registration to get Republican ballots to vote for their dreamboat.
I’m sympathetic to the argument that Smith is the least reprehensible Republican running in the primary (which is true) and that because it is difficult for a Democrat to win in Arizona in a midterm Smith is the safest Republican choice. What I object to is the unwarranted fawning over on this guy by non-Republicans. It’s eerily similar to the way Democrats gushed over Jeff Flake for years because he was so nice, while ignoring how rabidly right wing most of his views and voting record as a Congressman were. Flake will be in the Senate for the next 3 million years, thanks in part to years of Democrats obligingly softening his image. Those same Democrats never seem to learn because they’re going down the same path with Scott Smith. Let’s just be clear that we’re talking about this guy:
You want to go canvass for this guy? I don’t. Smith’s Center for Arizona Policy questionnaire answers do reveal him to be more moderate than his GOP opponents on many culture war issues – he’s for some LGBT rights and doesn’t want the government censoring the internet. On abortion rights, he does the same thing that Jeff Flake did in 2012, which is to say the magic words about rape and incest exceptions that will get him through endorsement interviews and allow him to paint himself as “moderate” on the issue to the general electorate. As with Flake, Smith can count on not being asked follow up questions about how, precisely, these rape exceptions would work (spoiler alert: they wouldn’t for the vast majority of victims). He gets to look reasonable and magnanimous while opposing about 99% of abortions, which is actually a radical anti-choice position.
The pundits foresee Smith modeling his administration after Governor Brewer’s, which is a reasonable assumption considering her top adviser, Chuck Coughlin, is running his campaign. Brewer has been a disaster on reproductive rights and Smith will be as well. Did you notice that whenever Brewer did something decent like the Medicaid expansion or vetoing SB1062 she’d often get an abortion bill to sign immediately after? It will likely go the same way with Smith. As I’ve noted before, someone has to take one for the team in the culture wars and poor women make for a very convenient sacrifice.
Another answer of Smith’s that I found disturbing was the one on assisted suicide:
Question 8: I believe God has a plan for each of us for which we must be strong, even when this includes trials to our end.
FYI swooners, that right there is what we call a red flag. I mean, look, I don’t expect him to be pro-euthanasia but he seems to be taking a tad to much joy in the prospect of people suffering. Yikes. Is he against palliative pain relief and do-not-resuscitate orders too?
One of the main arguments non-Republican Scott Smith enthusiasts make in his record as Mayor of Mesa and it is a fair one. But running a city is not the same as running a state, especially one with a legislature as full of wingnuts as ours is. There is also the possibility that the guy running as a jobs-focused centrist mayor will turn into an entirely different creature once elected Governor, as happened in North Carolina, where the “Eisenhower Republican” Mayor of Charlotte morphed into Michele Bachmann approximately one nanosecond after becoming Governor of that state.