Stewart Campaign Staying Silent (When it Shouldn’t Be)


Posted by Bob Lord

What I guessed would be an obscure blog post last week regarding the Phoenix CD8 campaign became far more serious when Stewart's general consultant, Mario Diaz, acknowledged it in three separate tweets last Thursday. Remarkably, Diaz thought it a good idea to raise awareness of blatantly disparaging remarks Marie Rose Wilcox, a Warren Stewart supporter, made about Kate Gallego, one of Stewart's opponents. Then, after I responded to his tweets in a second post, Diaz acknowledged that post in yet a fourth tweet.

Now, one of Arizona's premier bloggers, Donna at Democratic Diva, has posted on the subject:

As for Pastor Stewart, he is known for having a very traditional view of marriage, judging from statements he made condemning same-sex marriage in the strongest possible terms last fall (they’ve been scrubbed from his church’s website but can still be found elsewhere). A woman in a straight marriage taking her husband’s last name is about as traditional as it gets. I should think Stewart, of all people, would approve of that.

At any rate, Stewart cannot claim ignorance of Wilcox’s inflammatory remarks since he was present at the telephone town hall when she said them and his consultant then doubled down on supporting both him and Wilcox in response to Lord’s posts. I get that tempers flare in campaigns and sometimes people involved in them blurt out inappropriate things. The thing for Stewart, Wilcox, and Diaz to do right now is to apologize to Kate Gallego for that defamatory accusation against her. The longer they remain silent on it the more it looks like a deliberate tactic, once shouted at a town hall and now muted to a whisper campaign.

Diaz's acknowledgment of my posts makes a big difference.

When the general consultant for a campaign repeatedly acknowledges a charge against the campaign, the public must assume the campaign and the candidate are aware of the charge as well. Without Diaz's tweets, it would be unclear whether Stewart himself was aware of his supporter Marie Rose Wilcox's baseless charge that Kate Gallego's seemingly routine name change was intended to deceive the voters in CD8. Yes, he was on the telephone conference when Marie Rose made her accusation, but he may have been focusing so hard on his own remarks that he did not hear Wilcox's slanderous remarks. At this point, however, Stewart can't claim ignorance.

Nor can Stewart remain silent, for if he does, his silence will speak volumes about his character or, more precisely, lack of character.

This is no longer about Marie Rose. Nor is it about Mario Diaz, although his tweeted statement that he "stands with the Pastors, Marie Rose Wilcox and Warren Stewart based on their collective investment in the commuinty" is ludicrous. Investment in the community, Mario, does not place one beyond reproach. If any politician or public figure acts or speaks inappropriately, he is to be called out for it. There are no exemptions in politics. 

At this point, it's about Warren Stewart, and his seeming refusal to address clearly outrageous remarks by someone closely affiliated with his campaign. How outrageous? Eighty-six percent of married women take their husbands' last names. Marie Rose herself took her husband's last name. Yet Marie Rose had the temerity to label Kate Gallego's taking of her husband's name as a dishonest act intended to deceive voters. 

Stewart's silence is deafening, and deplorable. And let's not forget, he is a member of the clergy. You would think that as a pastor he would have a zero tolerance policy for this type of nonsense. Unfortunately, that appaars not to be the case.  By all appearances he has consciously chosen to remain silent. Certainly, with his general consultant repeatedly tweeting about the matter, he no longer can claim to be unaware. 

It is time for Warren Stewart to state, loudly and clearly, that he does not condone baseless character assassination and won't tolerate it from anyone affiliated with his campaign. And if Marie Rose Wilcox continues to hold back on an apology, he needs to cut her loose. If he doesn't have the character to take those steps, he's not qualified to serve on the City Council or, for that matter, in any other elected position.