Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Reflections on a mostly disappointing election

This is, of course, a time of reflection.

Key facts that have emerged from the 2014 general election so far:
  • The Greedy Old Pricks have gained control of the United States Senate.
  • Scrooge McDucey is now governor-elect of Arizona.
  • Mark "I am NOT a CROOK" Brnovich (who may actually BE a crook) is now attorney general-elect.
  • A woman who has committed herself to Voter Suppression is now secretary of state-elect.
  • Arizona's Congressional Delegation will remain the same except that the Barber/McSally race for CD2 is still too close to call
  • The race for Superintendent of Public Instruction is too close to call, which is highly problematic in and of itself. Should Diane Douglas win, and with a Gov. McDucey, K-12 public education will be further decimated. Expect class sizes to continue to expand and turnover of experienced teachers to skyrocket.
  • The Arizona Senate apparently will remain 17-13, with the GOP retaining a four seat advantage.
  • Democrats apparently have lost seats currently held by Demion Clinco (who did run this year) in LD2 and Juan Carlos Escamilla (who did not run for re-election) in LD4. 
  • In LD26, where I live, the three Democratic state lawmakers, Andrew Sherwood, Juan Mendez and Ed Ableser each won re-election. This is a good thing. But their jobs just became more difficult.
Here is a sneak peek at some of what to expect policywise from the legislature and executive branch, at minimum, attempts to,
  • Repeal Medicaid restoration
  • Renew HB2305 Voter Suppression legislation
  • Re-introduce SB1062 like legislation
You may say, "they wouldn't dare." But we just had -- one day ago -- an election that was for all intents and purposes a referendum on those items and the Guardians of Privilege won hands down.

On the federal level, expect movement in the wrong direction on climate change/environmental issues.

In frustrated agony, many of my friends have expressed a wide variety of lamentations. Some of them lay blame on an apathetic electorate. They are, at least partially, correct. However, as to identification of the underlying, bottom line cause, I disagree. 

From where I sit, those who had the loudest and mightiest bully pulpits won. That's a matter of the plutocracy, corporate media being the major factor. Corporate media at times lamented -- as they do every cycle -- the annoying, obnoxious political ads. Corporate media, however, has it within its power to put a halt to the obnoxiousness of the ads. They don't do it because they salivate over the fact that the billions of dollars in Dark Money spent every cycle goes almost entirely to broadcast and print media.

Then there are the candidates and the political parties. Each bears some responsibility.

The Arizona Democratic Party sure seemed to hedge on messaging. The strongest attack they could pull off is to make fun of Scrooge McDucey's ice cream store flavors. That message did not gain any traction. 

ADP focused efforts on the three competitive Congressional races, but didn't have much insight or energy to put into the statewide campaigns and the state party pretty much blew off the Arizona legislature.

Might it also have blown a wonderful opportunity to get the right voters increasingly to the polls when it all but ignored the initiative drive to put legal personal, non-medical use of marijuana on the ballot.

Candidates themselves. Hmmm... good candidates. Excellent candidates for the most part. Felecia's team told the truth about Brnovich, lobbying for private prisons and selling out Arizonans. The Arizona Republic's editorial staff decided to provide cover for Brnovich on that one. Then again, the Republic spurned Tea Party Diane Douglas. As of 7:30 pm tonight, she was holding a roughly 27,000 vote lead over David Garcia.

I am not privy to what happened in the two AZ House campaigns in which we lost seats. Therefore, I have no insight on what could have been done differently to change the outcome.

As far as LD26 goes, Republicans Dale Eames and James Roy were both awful candidates. 

Eames aggressively pretended to be Independent when he's really a gun-toting, hard core Republican. He put up a lot of signs. He had Russell Pearce's brother Lester backing him. Fortunately, it was not enough.

Roy, who played the role of political rookie with awkward gusto, was apparently angry that I called him out on his conduct. WTF did he expect when he decided to run? Did he expect me to let him take a mulligan when he showed up at the Democratic rally wearing his gun in an easily visible holster?

The best campaign messaging I saw from any legislative candidate came by way of the keyboard of Andrew Sherwood when the Mesa Republic and the East Valley Tribune published his sharply pointed op-ed.

For the most part, legislative and other local candidates (i.e. Justices of the Peace, school boards) and activists/volunteers put a lot of effort into GOTV (get out the vote) door-to-door and phone canvassing. For some, those efforts paid off.

For others, noble and gallant efforts came to naught because of a dearth of competitive legislative districts. There will be more to write on all of this in due time. 

ProgressNow Arizona director Robbie Sherwood reflected nicely and succinctly (in a Facebook status update):
A little bent, not broken.
I am incredibly inspired by the fighting spirit of Ann Kirkpatrick, Kyrsten Sinema and Ron Barber. Kyrsten and Ann have withstood a national tidal wave and Rep. Ron Barber is still hanging in there (everybody knock on wood). My friend and former colleague Congressman Ruben Gallego is going to make Arizona very proud, and Raul M. Grijalva will continue to be the progressive conscience of the country.
It's obviously a profound disappointment that incredibly qualified leaders and people I'm proud to call friends like Fred DuVal, Terry Goddard, David Garcia and Felecia Rotellini were not able to overcome a highly toxic national electoral environment, mid-term voter malaise and unprecedented outside "dark money" attacks.
Silver linings: As of right this second, it looks like the Arizona State Senate will hold the line at 17-13, which is a major accomplishment if you look at the wipeouts happening in statehouses around the country. Forging a moderate coalition in the Senate will become increasingly important as we all dust off and get back to work, because there will be more anti-working family, anti-labor, anti-equality, anti-choice, anti-public education and anti-equal pay legislation coming our way. Appearances on the Daily Show, sadly, will not end.
The headwinds in 2016 will be at our back and not in our faces, but there's a lot of hard work that needs to be done, starting right now. One last note, perhaps my favorite ray of sunshine last night was the incredible effort by Phoenix public employees who put together an absolutely incredible grassroots effort to defeat the odious Prop. 487, which would have cost Phoenix taxpayers millions. No one gave them a chance, least of all the media. I want to shake the hand of everybody involved in that effort. Lastly, thank you to everybody who stepped into the ring and ran for office, and please don't give up.
After reflection comes analysis -- in due time. After analysis comes action.

Today it is a case of the grasshopper pitted against the elephant. But tomorrow the elephant will have its guts ripped out. Le Loi, Vietnamese emperor, 15th Century. 

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