Town Halls Open to the Public are Kryptonite to Republicans.

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Superman is vulnerable to Kryptonite.

Dracula is repelled by the cross.

Small children sometimes gag at the thought of having to eat vegetables at dinner.

For Republicans, sponsoring and participating in town halls with actual constituents in attendance asking questions about policy and the Presidents (and their) behaviors is apparently the equivalent of Superman’s being vulnerable to kryptonite, Dracula being repelled by the cross, or small children gagging at the thought of having to eat vegetables.

In September, this Blog reported that  2018 Congressional Six Democratic Nominee and 2020 Democratic Candidate, Anita Malik showed the people in the district what they were missing from David Schweikert: a town hall which the Republican incumbent had not hosted since the Obama Presidency.

Unfortunately for the people of Arizona, Representative Schweikert’s kryptonite aversion to townhalls is not an isolated case.

In a piece published by Cronkite News at ASU PBS, it has been revealed that, in addition to Schweikert, all of Arizona’s Republican Public Servants, whether at the local, state, or federal levels of government, have not held a public town hall in recent memory.

To his credit, Democratic Representative Tom O’Halleran has held 19 Town Halls.

According to the article, this reluctance to engage with the people makes Arizona only one of two states (Missouri being the other) where the Party of Lincoln has not sponsored a public town hall.

This is not isolated to just 2019. Last year, this blog reported that Republican candidates and officeholders sought to avoid town halls or even debates with their Democratic opponents if they could.

The Republican fear of town halls has met with condemnation from Democratic figures in the state.

Matt Grodsky, the Director of Communications for the Arizona Democratic Party, wrote that:

“The Arizona Democratic Party knows it is the party for the people. We are not surprised that Republicans are reluctant to interface with their constituents given that they have spent the majority of their time cowing to special interest groups and attacking people’s health care. They just don’t want to face the music.”  

Legislative 11 Democratic Senate Candidate JoAnna Mendoza who is running to put Vince Leach into political retirement stated that:

“A few weeks ago, while out speaking with voters, I had a conversation with a gentleman (who was a Republican) that shared his concerns about gun rights. I asked him what his concerns were and what he proposed as a solution to this issue. He paused for about 10 seconds and stated that no one had ever asked him what he thought, let alone what might be a solution. This is a prime example of the incumbent’s lack of interaction with the people in the district, even those of the same political party.”

“Why would Mr. Leach hold town halls, when his focus is not the people living in LD 11?  Not only has he sponsored legislation that makes it harder for people to exercise their freedom of speech, but he also actively seeks to suppress it. Last month a team member from my campaign followed him on Twitter and was immediately blocked. This tactic appears to be trending in the social media world amongst lawmakers. At the time, I thought this was an isolated incident. However, after further research realized that Mr. Leach has been blocking folks on social media for quite some time. Threads on Twitter revealed that there were at least ten people that were blocked for disagreeing, pointing out incorrect information, or simply because they were not from the same political party. The US Court of Appeals ruled that lawmaker’s social media accounts are an extension of elected office and are also considered public forums, therefore, they cannot block you.”

“As an elected official, Mr. Leach has a responsibility to hear his constituents out. He doesn’t get to pick and choose whose opinions matter. Constituents should have access to their legislators to ask questions, share concerns, and give feedback on the district’s needs, regardless of the forum-town hall or social media. Mr. Leach doesn’t hold town halls because he is afraid that if he does he might get asked hard questions about his toxic policies. Guess what Mr. Leach? You don’t get that luxury! As a State Senator for LD 11, it’s your job to answer tough questions, explain what you’re doing for the people in the district, and most importantly ask how you can be of service to them!”

Eric Kurland, the Democratic Candidate for one of the State House seats in Legislative District 23, offered his thoughts on the reluctance of the two Republican incumbents (John Kavanagh and Jay Lawrence) holding these public events.

“Being a representative is a job description and not just a title. I haven’t seen or heard anything from the two in office. I, on the other hand, have an open forum every Thursday morning from 8-10  at the Coffee Plantation on Shea.”

Joan Greene, the Democratic Candidate for Congressional District Five currently held by Freedom Caucus Leader Andy Biggs commented on Facebook that:

“If you are an elected person and you do not have an IN-PERSON Town Hall that is

* Open to the public 
* Seven days or longer public notification on social media 
* Every three months (4 times a year)

You are not doing your job.”

“Period.”

“One reason for their reluctance may be the hostility some lawmakers faced in the months after President Donald Trump took office. After Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, was repeatedly booed at his last town hall on April 2017, he turned to telephone town halls – a method Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Prescott, also uses.”

If the crowd is “hostile” it is not an excuse to turn tail and run. This is when you show leadership and lean in to listen. This is how we build a strong community that includes everyone.

Join me for our 3rd IN-PERSON Town Hall

October 23, 2019 – Wednesday
5:30PM – 7:00PM
Chandler Downtown Library – Copper Room South
22 S. Delaware Street, Chandler, AZ 85225?”

Michael Muscato, a Democratic Candidate for Congressional District Eight who hopes to defeat Republican incumbent Debbie Lesko, who was also interviewed for the Cronkite article, commented further that:

“Debbie Lesko has not held a town hall since being elected. For either state or federal office.”
“Earlier this year I stated that once elected I would host a minimum of 4 town halls per year. I submitted this through the town hall project. She then (apparently felt guilty) held a telephone town hall – in two days’ notice, via landline only, and screened the calls/questions.”
“For our town hall, we provided a weeks notice, we filed a formal request for her attendance through her congressional web form, we tagged her in social media posts, and didn’t so much as receive a response. We even paid for security as consideration for today’s crazy world and out of respect for her as a public figure. She was in town.” 
“Arizona is one of two states in which the GOP has not held a single town hall. Lesko hasn’t held one since being elected. She is scared to be held accountable for her voting record, scared to be compared to me on a public platform in front of voters, and scared to have to answer unscreened questions in which her repeated talking points will not suffice.”
“I’ve also since stated that Debbie can name the time and place of her choosing, and I’ll be there. 
“In my opinion, she has two strikes against her.”
1) she was part of a government shutdown 
2) she refuses to listen to her constituents who are members of local Republican clubs or corporate donors”
“Strike three needs to be Nov 3, 2020, when CD8 votes for Michael Muscato. I’ll represent the Republican and Independent voters she refuses to.”
All the comments expressed above echo the same sentiment.
Public Servants need to listen to the concerns of the people they serve.
They need to create opportunities for the people to meet with them and candidly discuss the issues, both positive and negative.
If they truly believe in all the votes and positions they have taken, why be afraid to explain that to the people they serve. 
Arizona is now a purple state and the 2020 elections appear to be one of the most engaged in history.
If Republicans run and hide from the people they have been entrusted with serving, then the voters will let them know what they think of their snubbing them at the absent townhalls on election day in November 2020 at the voting booth.
Featured Image from Anita Malik’s September Townhall

 

1 COMMENT

  1. The GOP isn’t afraid of liberals anymore, they’re afraid of their own base.

    They allowed the Beck/Limbaugh/Hannity/Fox News/AM hate radio folks to run unchecked for decades, lying, name calling, demagoguing, and they created a misinformed, malignant monster.

    My heartfelt sympathies go out to them.

    FSNT

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