Posted by Bob Lord
[Disclosure: I have contributed to and support Kate Gallego in the CD8 Phoenix City Council Race]
On Wednesday, I posted on the campaign waged on behalf of Warren Stewart in Phoenix's CD8. Several hours after posting, I became aware of an email in which Warren Stewart had characterized as despicable a mailer sent out, by an unidentified person or group, likening Kate Gallego to Paula Deen. Accordingly, I updated my post to give Stewart credit for having sent the email.
Turns out, I may have been too kind. You see, the email, which was all about how Stewart was going to win this race the "right way," together with a subsequent comment to my post, raises a host of questions.
In the very next sentence after Stewart denounced the offensive "Gallego = Deen" mailer, his email stated:
In fact that kind of
discussion only distracts from the real issues — making a choice between a
candidate with a long 35-year connection and relationship with this community,
and one that just moved to South Phoenix to run for the city council seat
encouraged by political insiders for their own political gain.
Just moved to South Phoenix to run for the City Council seat?
Gallego has lived in the district for close to a decade. She moved this year, but her move was within the district. Was Stewart's allegation an innocent mistake, or a statement intended to mislead? Well, it wasn't a mistake. You see, early on in the campaign, the Stewart campaign has made this accusation and been corrected on it. After the accusation was corrected, Stewart changed the words so that they were not blatantly wrong, but still leaving the intended false implication. For example, at a press conference after the August election, Stewart alleged that Gallego had lived in the community "only a handful of years." In reality, it's closer to a decade, but the inaccuracy of that statement could be defended as mere political hyperbole.
Nonetheless, this type of innuendo hardly evidences a candidate trying to win "the right way." And in his email, Stewart seems to have reverted to blatant dishonesty. The implication is that Gallego "just moved" into the district to run, which is flatly untrue. Gallego did move, but her move was within the district. Even the literal reading of the statement is untrue. Yes, Gallego moved to South Phoenix, but did she do so "to run for the city council seat?" Or was she already positioned to do that before she moved? If so, running for the seat could not have been the purpose of her move.
First questions: Pastor Stewart, am I missing something, or is your email blatantly dishonest on this point? If it was dishonest, why should anyone believe your statement that you had nothing to do with the despicable mailer likening Kate Gallego to Paula Deen? Also, how is that a member of the clergy would state in one paragraph that he's going to win this campaign the "right way," then engage in dishonesty in the very next paragraph?
Is Stewart's statement actually worse than an attempt to paint Gallego as a carpetbagger? It seems there's an implication that you shouldn't represent the district, of which South Phoenix is only a part, unless you live in South Phoenix.
Next questions: Pastor Stewart, why does the district need to be represented by a resident of South Phoenix, rather than someone who lives near the stadium, Gallego's previous residence within the district? If there is no reason, what's the significance of Gallego moving South Phoenix, given that she already lived in the district?
Moving on, Stewart's email also makes a curious, cryptic reference to the campaign's pre-primary charge that Gallego took her husband's last name in order to make the voters think she's a Latina. The actual words in the email are:
I will win it the right way. No name
calling, mud wrestling, no fooling. And I am asking all my
supporters to follow my lead on that.
When I first read the email, I thought the "no fooling" part was a cryptic way of walking back the "Kate Gallego is trying to fool Latino voters" charge. The trouble is, the passage also could be interpreted to say that Gallego is engaging in these tactics, whereas Stewart will not.
So, next questions: Do you or do you not renounce the charge you and your supporter, Marie Rose Wilcox, made that Kate Gallego took her husband's last name for the purpose of tricking Latinos in CD8 into believing she is a Latina? If not, are you saying that a white woman who takes the last name of her Latino husband is acting dishonestly, even though 86% of women take their husbands' last names?
Regardless of the answer to those questions, I'm trying to understand what Stewart believed was the logic behind Gallego's alleged trickery. Did he think that Latino voters vote based on racial identity?
Next question: Pastor Stewart, wasn't the allegation that Gallego was trying to fool Latino voters insulting to those voters? Were you saying those voters base their votes on race, not on the quality of the candidate? Is that the basis upon which you, a civil rights leader, believe voters make their decisions?
Stewart's supporter, Cloves Campbell, in an editorial in May in the Arizona Informant, labeled one of your opponents a "house negro" and criticized him for immersing himself in a job with "nothing but white folks." The Phoenix New Times reported that you failed to publicly denounce those comments and, at the time of the comments, reported:
We left messages for him at his church, on his cell phone, and at his home. He's yet to return our calls.
Next questions: Is the New Times wrong and you actually did publicly denounce Campbell's comments? If so, when and where? If not, why not?
On Thursday, I commenter going by the name "sksandra" left a comment to my previous post on the CD8 race. I have reason to suspect the commenter may have been Sandra Kennedy, but do not know that for sure. The comment was curious in that it repeatedly referred to Gallego as Kate Widland, which suggests the commenter wanted to be certain readers knew Gallego is not Hispanic. Sort of reminiscent of Stewart's M.O. "Sksandra" then questioned why I was not as outraged by the mailer in the CD4 race that likened Laura Pastor to Paris Hilton as I was by the "Gallego = Deen" piece. Well, here's why, Sandra: First, likening a candidate to Paris Hilton to suggest she's riding a parent's coattails is wrong, but it's nowhere near as repulsive as likening a candidate to Paula Deen to suggest she's racist. It's rather pathetic that "sksandra" needed me to explain this distinction. Second, Pastor's opponents in that race both immediately denounced the Paris Hilton mailer. Stewart, by contrast, waited a week or so to speak out against the mailer purportedly intended to help him.
So, last question: Pastor Stewart, why did it take your campaign so long to denounce as despicable the Paula Deen = Kate Gallego mailer?
In the comment, "sksandra" stated that I owed Stewart an apology. That depends on whether he or his campaign answers my questions and what those answers are. If the Stewart campaign answers the questions I've raised, and its answers demonstrate I've misjudged the situation, I'll issue the apology Sksandra requested. Of course, when I first started writing on this race, I offered Stewart the opporunity to disown Mary Rose Wilcox's outrageous allegation and he chose instead to double down on it. So I'm not holding my breath waiting for answers.