Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Why did Kyrsten Sinema endorse Richard Bauer in a hotly contested Democratic primary for LD24 House? UPDATED 1:30pm 7-22-14

The Arizona Capitol Times fancies itself a big time player in the politics of the state legislature. Covering a recent debate between the two non-incumbent Democratic hopefuls -- former lawmaker Ken Clark, who previously served one term and Richard Bauer, a retired Phoenix firefighter, Cap Times reporter Hank Stephenson took a profoundly superficial view of the situation. After setting up the debate as an effort to fill a power vacuum being left by Chad Campbell, Stephenson declares the exercise to be of no consequence because the two candidates would vote the same anyway.
The two challenging Democrats -- Ken Clark and Rich Bauer -- would likely have similar voting patterns in the GOP dominated Legislature.
The outnumbered Democratic Caucus is mostly resigned to voting as a bloc against Republican-sponsored legislation and complaining about Republican policies. Democrats bills seldom receive hearings and very rarely become law. 
I object! Assuming facts not in evidence... and leaving MANY facts in evidence out of his assessment. The logical fallacy Stephenson employs in this case is in claiming or supposing historical patterns will be in effect when the 52nd Legislature convenes in January 2015. That and the Cap Times journo assumes the like voting patterns. The fallacy is known as appeal to antiquity.

First off, the old does not necessarily foreshadow the new in this case. At least five Republicans running (as either incumbents or House crossover candidates) for the state senate (I know, this post is about a Democratic House primary) are profoundly vulnerable in THIS year's election. I'll spare you recapping that phenomenon as I've either cited them by name or alluded to their situations several times over the last six or seven months. With Democrats holding 13 of the 30 Senate seats now, all that is necessary to cause an overwhelming sea change is a gain of at least two of the 17 seats now held by Republicans. With a pick up of three seats, Democrats select the Senate President, ousting Andy Biggshot.

That, of course, disposes of the position of weakness in which the Cap Times wants to keep Democrats.

Eventually, Democrats will be able to control the House, even if not this year. The bottom line for 2015 is that there will be some change in tone at the Capitol. The more change the better. Republicans at both the state and federal level have decimated Arizona for decades. That is going to stop.

Back to this LD24 House Democratic primary. Stephenson assumes incumbent Lela Alston retains her seat in 2015. That's a fair assumption. Not 100 percent guaranteed, but a strong likelihood.
Bauer is a retired Phoenix firefighter who is making his first run for political office in the district where he was born and lived almost all of his life.... But he's unpolished on specific policies and doesn't echo Democratic talking points on every issue. 
If that's the case, on what does Stephenson base his conclusion that Bauer and Clark would vote essentially the same once in office? Because the story revolves around a "feisty debate" between the two candidates, the moderator (Arizona Republic reporter Mary Jo Pitzl) wisely posed the question (to each) on what the difference is between the two.
Without mentioning Bauer's poor record of turning out to vote -- in the last decade, Bauer has only voted in one general election and he has not voted in a primary -- or that Bauer briefly left the Democratic Party to become an Independent, Clark noted that he has always voted and has always been a Democrat.
Note that Stephenson makes an obviously NON-objective statement about Bauer's departure from the Democratic Party, saying it was "briefly." In this case, "briefly" is the full length of a legislative term, two years. A source provided the Arizona Eagletarian information citing that Bauer's decision to leave the Democratic Party was made official on October 4, 2010. He remained an Independent until he apparently decided to run for the House as a Democrat. Bauer's change back to a Democrat was made on October 7, 2012. That was less than two months after Chad Campbell won the primary for what everyone paying attention knew was his final term in the House.

When Clark cited the specifics of Bauer's voting record, Bauer,
...shot back that what sets him apart from Clark, who served two years in the legislature, is that he is not a "life-long career politician." 
Since Clark is also not a "life-long career politician," Bauer obviously blew that opportunity to sound like he knew what he was doing and that he had any idea what he was trying to get himself into.
Bauer complained that part of Clark's list of city of Phoenix issues Bauer failed to vote on is inaccurate because Bauer lived outside of Phoenix for three years.
However, voter registration records show Bauer as having listed Phoenix residences (for voting purposes) continuously for at least the last 22 years. So, even if he did live outside of Phoenix, he was still registered to vote and apparently could have voted including on fiscal related ballot measures during whichever three-year period he wants to now claim (pretend?) he lived elsewhere. And he was apparently still working for the City of Phoenix that entire time.

Bauer has admitted that Clark is correct about his voting record (except for the three years Bauer apparently wants to dispute) and has said:
"(But) some of it is accurate and I apologize and am embarrassed for the (elections) I didn't vote in. However, what I completely resent is (the charge) that I did not support firefighters and public safety. It clearly says Rich Bauer did not support public safety," Bauer said.
"And while you were selling repossessed houses, I was running into burning buildings," he said. 
That statement is priceless. It appears to have sailed completely over Stephenson's head. However, when Bauer declared his priorities -- minimizing the significance of his betrayal of his civic duty -- he (again) profoundly defined and differentiated himself from Ken Clark.

You see, Rich Bauer's own words tell you and I that his only priority then and now is what he was trained to do as a firefighter. And that training apparently did not include voting at every election.

A friend wrote recently that when a candidate tells you who he is, believe him. And Richard Bauer made nothing but excuses and put plenty of effort into trying to tell the debate audience that his indifference toward voting was no big deal. But really, when voters are deciding who they want to represent them in the lawmaking process, is it really no big deal?

You see, in order to understand fully (you know, transparency, which we MUST demand of our elected state representatives) who Richard Bauer is, we must understand who Phoenix firefighters have endorsed for state legislative offices. I do not have a list of those endorsements through the years handy right now. How much would you bet that there are plenty of Republicans, and not just so-called moderate Republicans on that list?

And how much money did individual firefighters and their unions donate in campaign cash to those Republicans? That's something Hank Stephenson should be able to find out and report on with little resistance because that is a Capitol Times strong suit. And when we find out how much those firefighters have given to Republicans, it might take substantially more effort to uncover what each expected from the other. You can safely bet that there were real expectations in both directions.

That brings me to my next question.

Why would Kyrsten Sinema, elected as a Democrat, ostensibly to represent the voters of Arizona's Ninth Congressional District, endorse someone who has a demonstrably weak sense of civic duty and an apparent propensity to mislead voters? Okay, so most elected officials are uncomfortable with letting voters know their shortcomings and foibles... including Sinema.

Richard Bauer on Monday morning posted on his Facebook page that he had received Sinema's endorsement.

I had asked Sinema campaign staff (and Congressional staff) about this when I first heard it was pending (a week or so ago). Both were evasive. Last week, Sinema's campaign staff told me:
Hi Steve - we have a process we go through before Kyrsten endorses anyone. I assure you that process is followed in every case. ;) (the wink was in the original) 
Then this morning I asked, in writing, her campaign staff three questions. Those questions were seen but not responded to by the staff. 

  • 1) is that a true statement? Did Kyrsten endorse Bauer? 
  • 2) If so, what kind of statement is she prepared to make supporting that endorsement? 
  • 3) Is she, or anyone in the her campaign cognizant of Bauer's electoral history? 
The response, including to multiple efforts to reach them by phone -- crickets. Because it's fair to infer that if she did not endorse Bauer her campaign would have been quick to jump on the situation, Bauer did receive Sinema's endorsement.

The next question has to be WHY did she endorse the guy. My sources suggested that the firefighter's union promised Sinema a boatload of campaign cash in exchange for that endorsement. We won't know until reports are filed with the FEC whether that ends up being true.

By the way, the Cap Times story I've been quoting from mentions bullying behavior by the firefighters who had attended the debate when they didn't get their way at the end. Stephenson chalked that up to them (both sides) having consumed alcohol and the already politically charged atmosphere. But really, that goes with the pattern of the firefighters other habitual known behaviors, hopefully not always when they have alcohol in their blood. 


In 2010, the firefighters endorsed and worked diligently for Cathy Eden in the four way race for the Democratic nomination to run against John McCain for US Senate. Every candidate EXCEPT Eden was getting lots of signs stolen. Coincidence? I think not.

All appearances seem to indicate that Richard Bauer is in this to become an in-house lobbyist for firefighters. So it's reasonable to expect firefighters to vote for him. But it's not as reasonable for anyone else to vote for him.

Based on longstanding patterns of conduct, it is reasonable to expect that, in the event he wins the a seat in the House, he will be selling out every Democratic ideal and legitimate constituent except for firefighters. He will do so by climbing in bed with the ALEC members who have run the show for years.

It is way past time to put a stop to ALEC and in this case, defeating Richard Bauer is a necessary step to take to that end.

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As to the conspicuous silence of Sinema and her staff when pressed to answer for decisions like this, investigative journalist Charles Lewis, in his recent book 935 Lies has important insight. Lewis quotes a judge who had heard arguments regarding whether to suppress publication of the Pentagon Papers.
A cantankerous press, an obstinate press, an ubiquitous press must be suffered by those in authority in order to preserve the even greater values of freedom of expression, and the right of the people to know.*
And yet, on such a relatively small matter as who she endorses and why, Kyrsten Sinema is as evasive as a criminal. I understand the discomfort, but really she's going to need to figure out how to get over her insecurity if she plans to stay in elective office very long.

*935 Lies, page 37.

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UPDATE

Perhaps the most significant recent example of the conflict between Phoenix firefighters advocating contrary to the obvious interests of working class Arizonans is the work their union and its leaders engaged in to support and work for the appointment of Sal DiCiccio to the Phoenix City Council.

I dare Richard Bauer to demonstrate just how independently he could possibly conduct himself from his bosses. I don't believe he can be independent and I don't believe he either does or can advocate independently for constituents -- other than narrowly parochial interests of a non-transparent group of firefighters. For example, the Phoenix New Times reported, in July 2013,
The District 6 representative [DiCiccio] is dripping in irony after his latest call for "significant reforms" at Phoenix City Hall, including "ending lobbyist nepotism and implementing policies to end personal ties between elected officials and their staffs."
Perhaps DiCiccio forgot about his own very close "personal ties" with [Phoenix firefighters] union-boss-turned-lobbyist Billy Shields, with Shields' wife, Lora Villasenor, and with Shields' brother-in-law, Joe Villasenor?
And New Times reported in 2011,
It's no secret that the firefighters union rallied for DiCiccio's appointment to the City Council when Councilman Greg Stanton left in 2009 to take a job at the Attorney General's Office. And, given that DiCiccio's anti-Public Safety Manager Jack Harris stance meshes perfectly with the police union's stance, it's no surprise that cop shop lends him its support as well. (emphasis mine)
With firefighters brazenly "in bed with" the Phoenix councilman who is most obviously comfortable engaging in anti-labor advocacy and cozying up to Tea Party activists, I find it unconscionable for any honest, engaged official or citizen advocate to support Richard Bauer. And with Bauer unable to demonstrate how he is at all or could possibly consider lawmaking decisions independently from his union it is critical that LD24 voters choose Ken Clark instead.

1 comment:

  1. Knowing Congresswoman Sinema's voting record in the US House, where she has voted against Democratic ideals time after time like the good Blue Dog she is, her apparent endorsement of Richard Bauer means that they are kindred spirits. And that means that Arizona will suffer.

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