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.
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.
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.”
“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: