Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A 2014 Preview? UPDATED 11:20 pm MST 5-7-13

Disgraced former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford today rose like a Phoenix from the ashes of his self-destructed political career to defeat House Minority Leader and former Speaker Nancy Pelosi. He will, once the vote is certified, again take a seat in Congress.

Wait, what? Who did he run against? I thought it was Stephen Colbert's sister Elizabeth Colbert Busch.
Sanford had requested four debates with Colbert-Busch before the special election for South Carolina’s 1st congressional district is held on May 7th, but she only agreed to one. “My opponent continues to run a stealth campaign, avoiding public appearances and refusing to commit to televised forums for the benefit of 1st district voters,” Sanford announced in a press release. “Since Elizabeth Colbert Busch refuses to articulate her views publicly, we are left to draw inferences for what she stands for on the basis of the groups that have made substantial monetary investments on her behalf.”
Sanford peppered “Pelosi” with questions about the National Labor Relations Board and other issues pertaining to the South Carolina campaign, even chiding the poster at one point for its silence. “She’s not going to answer that one,” he said. When “Pelosi” would not answer another question about stimulus spending, Sanford answered for her, saying, “I think what Nancy would say is that she stands for stimulus in a way that’s very different from the way I stood for a long while on the whole notion of bringing our financial house in order.” 

Huffington Post reporter Jon Ward emphasizes Sanford's repentance and admission of his shortfalls as key to his political "rebirth." That, no doubt was A factor but could not have gotten the job done all by itself.
The former South Carolina governor won his old seat in Congress back on Tuesday, after voters in the state's coastal 1st Congressional District decided to overlook his many misadventures since he first admitted an extramarital affair in 2009. (emphasis added)
The most important question is WHY they overlooked his many misadventures.


This brings me back to reflecting on 2012 Arizona election campaigns and envisioning what we should expect for the 2014 election season.

In MY legislative district, LD26, a very dedicated and focused team of candidates and activists faced a serious challenge. The candidates, in ways NOT necessarily typical for Arizona Democrats, took bold steps to win. And those steps were met with indignation by Republicans AND Phoenix area journalists.

Perhaps the best example of that indignation was penned by Phoenix New Times reporter and blogger Stephen Lemons. Lemons had been a champion for GOP state Sen. Jerry Lewis, who won the historically significant recall election that ousted Senate President Russell Pearce.

Boiled down to the least common denominator, what LD26 Democrats Ed Ableser, Juan Mendez and Andrew Sherwood did was a lot like what Mark Sanford did in running against Nancy Pelosi. The three Arizona Democrats told LD26 voters about who funded their Republican opponents.

You would have thought, from Lemons' and other local columnists' reflections on the tactic that the Democrats had committed a capital crime. Given the overreaction to any Arizona Democrat taking a bold stand, it's almost no wonder our candidates have been shut out of the public policy dialogue at the legislature for so long.

I don't know whether North Carolina Democrats or Colbert Busch's campaign took any action to counteract Sanford's theatrics, but if they did, it didn't work. And despite a loud chorus of wailing and gnashing of teeth in response to the bold campaign last fall by the LD26 Democrats, our three candidates all won their races.

As far as I know, all three of them are planning to run again in 2014. I expect the upcoming campaign season to be just as contentious as 2012. And I expect Sen. Ed Ableser and state Reps. Juan Mendez and Andrew Sherwood to stand boldly for the citizens in the Tempe and West Mesa legislative district.

As for Democratic candidates in other legislative and statewide races, it may ALL boil down to how effectively candidates focus campaigns on how they will represent the interests of each individual voter as opposed to the lobbyists who lavish luxurious gifts on them at every possible turn.


Case in point:

Shortly after the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) told the press "we really believe in transparency," new documents show the organization directing legislators to hide ALEC meeting agendas and model legislation from the public. This effort to circumvent state freedom of information laws is being called "shocking" and "disturbing" by transparency advocates.
ALEC disclaimer
A disclaimer published at the bottom of meeting agendas and model bills from ALEC's most recent meeting in Oklahoma City, obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy, reads: "Because this is an internal ALEC document, ALEC believes it is not subject to disclosure under any state Freedom of Information or Public Records Act."
"If you receive a request for disclosure of this or any other ALEC document under your state's Freedom of Information or Public Records Act, please contact Michael Bowman, Senior Director, Policy and Strategic Initiatives," it says. 
For a private organization to assert that its interactions with state legislators are not subject to public records laws is "shocking," says Mark Caramanica, Freedom of Information Director at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.
"Private individuals or organizations cannot simply label a document private and say it is private on their own. It is not their decision to make." 

Democratic candidates, precinct committeepersons and activists should fearlessly (but professionally, assertive but not nastily) challenge Republican candidates (especially incumbents) for the legislature and Corporation Commission on ALEC membership. Of course, it will be much more effective for Democratic candidates (especially incumbents) to address lobbyist gifts to the extent those gifts are simply refused.

Further UPDATE


A turning point in the race came two weeks ago, when Sanford held a mock debate with a cardboard cut-out of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, implying that the California Democrat — persona non grata in conservative South Carolina – was a stand-in for his Democratic opponent.
The former governor endured days of derision from the press for the move — Mark Sanford, once regarded as a viable potential presidential candidate, was debating a piece of cardboard.
Not unlike the "derision" Ableser, Mendez and Sherwood endured last fall.

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