The Empty Suit


By Tom Prezelski

Re-posted from Rum, Romanism and Rebellion

To use a well-worn paraphrase of Mark Twain, there are lies, damned
lies, and campaign rhetoric. The last category includes those easily
refutable throwaway little fibs that inevitably arise during a
problematic candidacy.

example of this comes involves the financials of the increasingly
quixotic campaign of Ward III Republican Council candidate Ben Buehler-Garcia. As most readers know the City of Tucson has a public campaign finance
system which became the inspiration for Arizona’s Clean Elections Law,
which, in turn, has become a model nationally. Under this system, a
candidate receives matching funds by getting at least 200 individual
contributions of $10 or more from city residents. The system has been a
good way of making sure that narcissistic auto dealers who live outside
the city limits or sleazy political operatives from Phoenix are largely
excluded from our elections.

Buehler-Garcia has not yet filed for matching funds, though he
assures everybody that he has the 200 contributions he needs. He has
been making this claim for weeks, though his campaign finance reports say differently.
Though, at first glance, his reports seem to list sufficient
contributions, the most cursory inspection shows that some contributors
are listed multiple times and some live outside the city. In one case, a contribution from a Maricopa-County based PAC is listed as being from an individual.

This is all a matter of public record.

OspreyPerhaps Buehler-Garcia is sitting on contributions as a part of some
sort of sophisticated strategy, an effort to lull the enemy into
complacency and draw his opponent into a double-envelopment by his
hidden cavalry, but this is unlikely. It is also possible, one supposes,
that the candidate is simply mistaken, but given the fact that
Buehler-Garcia has run before and is surrounded by veteran campaigners,
he should know what he is doing.

likely, Buehler-Garcia’s boast is a lie, and a very stupid one. It is
stupid not only because it is easily refuted, but also because it seems
so petty, like the sort of thing that only concerns political insiders.
However, it is significant because it speaks of a larger problem with
his candidacy, and not simply because makes him look inept. While
Republicans trumpet Buehler-Garcia as a respected community leader with
broad support, this goodwill, if it actually exists to the extent they
say it does, has failed to materialize for his campaign. The apparent
lack of enthusiasm among city residents for Buehler-Garcia not only
tends to make him look weak, but also undermines the very premise of his

It should be pointed out that all three Democratic incumbents have
qualified for matching funds. Even Buehler-Garcia’s fellow Republican,
Ward V candidate Mike Polak, whose troubled campaign had a slow start
and who has been ignored by nearly everybody, has applied for matching funds.

We keep hearing that Buehler-Garcia nearly defeated Democratic
incumbent Karin Uhlich in 2009. It might be more accurate to say that
Buehler-Garcia lost a race against an incumbent member of a
then-unpopular City Council despite the fact that the year was otherwise
good for Republicans. His difficulty with regard to matching funds is
another example of the shallowness of his support and the hollowness of
his candidacy, and gives us some insight into why he is  waging a
re-match as a challenger rather than running for reelection.


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