The Road Ahead in CD1

There is a report today in the Phoenix Business Journal that furthers speculation that Congressman Rick Renzi’s days in Congress may very well be numbered. While I won’t rehash recent coverage about Renzi’s problems, suffice to say that it’s looking increasingly likely that there will be a special election some time in the next 6-10 months.

So it’s not surprising then that the speculation has begun about who is considering running on the Republican side. Here is a brief review and the Hack’s opinion on who is considering running and what their strengths and weaknesses are.

Top Tier Candidates

Former Senate President Ken Bennett

Bennett seems like a logical choice for this seat. He has a good base in Yavapai County, and he is LDS which should help him with conservative LDS Democrats in the NE portion of the district. Potential weaknesses may include unfounded claims that he exerted political influence in his son’s legal cases, and the same question every candidate will have to answer – can they raise enough money to be competitive in what should be a very expensive race.

State Rep. Bill Konopnicki

Before everyone posts comments on how Konopnicki is too liberal to win a primary (and maybe he is), keep in mind that Konopnicki always runs very strong in his legislative district. Konopnicki is not only LDS, but he has routinely won the swing areas of this district in his Legislative races. Konopnicki is also wealthy and could conceivably finance a big chunk of his campaign.

Potential weaknesses include the fact that he is seen as one of the most liberal Republican members of the Arizona Legislature which could make getting through a primary tough. He also has rubbed some of his Republican colleagues in the Legislature the wrong way with his willingness to occasionally plot with Democrats (the 2004 budget is just one example).

Rancher Steve Pierce

Pierce is a wealthy rancher who was the chairman of the Yavapai County Republican Party. He is well-liked in Yavapai and considered a good conservative. He is also close to Kyl, Shadegg, and Flake. Pierce could also afford to self-finance his campaign.

Pierce’s most obvious weakness is that he is relatively unknown to voters. Though, in fairness, if Pierce were to write a big check, that could be overcome relatively easiliy.

Other Potential Candidates

Senator Tom O’Halleran

Probably not going to happen for the liberal Republican State Senator. He represents Yavapai, but it’s likely there will be another conservative candidate from Yavapai County who will be in a position to take the bulk of GOP votes out of the County. O’Halleran doesn’t have much to offer to primary voters in this race. It would also be tough for O’Halleran to raise the kind of money to be competitive.

Lobbyist Sydney Hay

Hay ran and finished a close third in the 2002 Republican Primary for this seat. Word is that she is calling around to feel out her prospects on this race and would like to run. She is conservative and well-liked by conservative activists. She is also a good campaigner and able to articulate the issues.

However, it’s well-known that she does not live in the district, and it’s unlikely that the voters would accept another carpetbagger. In addition, Hay is a lobbyist. Now, in fairness, she generally lobbies for conservative causes, but that distinction will very likely get lost in a race like this, and being a lobbyist running for Congress is probably not the right profile to have in a race like this. Also, it’s unlikely that Hay could raise the kind of money necessary to be competitive in this race.

The Hack’s Take

The price of entry to be taken seriously in this race is going to be high. That immediately put’s potential self-funders like Pierce and Konopnicki into the top-tier. Bennett belongs with these two because he could conceivably put some of his own money into the race and would be able to raise money. He also has a good base from which to run in a primary and a lot of goodwill to tap into. In the end, I think it’s an either or situation for Pierce and Bennett. Both don’t get into the race. Whoever does would probably become the favorite. Konopnicki may flinch because our resign to run law would very likely require him to leave the Legislature. If he does run, he could win if he were able to do well in his legislative district and self-fund a big chunk of his race. O’Halleran and Hay are likely non-starters. They may run, but I think neither would be able to compete with the top-tier candidates.

Now fire away!!!

Domestic Terrorism in Austin

I was very angry to hear that a bomb was left outside an Austin abortion clinic today (story). As much as I hate, despise and loathe the action of killing and dismembering an unborn baby and exploiting a mother/woman in the process, I strongly condemn acts of violence against those who practice violence on the most vulnerable.

Let’s call it what it is – domestic terrorism.

Some of the strongest pro-life advocates are former abortionists. Many like me, pray and persuade these depraved individuals to leave the business and join the ranks of those standing for protecting innocent human life. Detonating a bomb and killing abortionists and those women who feel they have no other option than to take their baby’s life will not strengthen the pro-life movement. It only disfigures and discredits those of us seeking peaceful, life-affirming solutions.

Let’s not follow the terrorists abroad who hate American and yes, the practice of abortion. Let’s assert and take the higher road.

AZGOP Press Release – April 26, 2007 – Giffords, Mitchell Betray Troops

For Immediate Release – April 26, 2007
Contact: Brett Mecum – bmecum@azgop.org
Phone: 602.957.7770
www.azgop.org

GIFFORDS, MITCHELL BETRAY TROOPS IN IRAQ…AGAIN – PULLEN STRONGLY SUPPORTS PRESIDENTIAL VETO

Phoenix, AZ – “In an unstable world and a dangerous time, Harry Mitchell and Gabrielle Giffords have once again undermined our troops, mocked our generals, and have thumbed their collective noses at the President,” said Randy Pullen, chairman of the Arizona Republican Party. “Nancy Pelosi has over stepped her bounds, Harry Reid has endangered American troops around the world, and Gabrielle Giffords and Harry Mitchell have disgraced themselves in less than four months in office.”

Pullen continued, “Once again, we see that the Democrats are trying to micromanage our military from Washington, D.C. Once again they have voted to set an artificial withdrawal deadline in Iraq. Once gain they have waved the white flag of defeat and surrender. And once again they have shared our battle plan with the terrorists who hope to murder Americans and destroy our way of life. Our men and women in uniform who are bravely serving overseas deserve much better than the treatment they have received from the likes of Nancy Pelosi, Gabrielle Giffords, and Harry Mitchell.

“The sad irony is that the Democrats voted to ’cut and run’ from Iraq right after Osama bin Laden made claims he is in fact running the terrorists and insurgents in Iraq. A forced withdrawal of our troops by the Democrats in Congress before their mission is completed will lead to real defeat for American soldiers and the likely slaughter of countless Sunnis and Shiates throughout the Middle East in an ensuing, senseless civil war. This lasting legacy of the110th Democrat Congress will be appeasement with pork, a tasteless dish.

“I stand solidly with the over one million Arizona Republicans when I say: Mr. President for the sake of troops, for the sake of our country, and for the sake of the principles of freedom, liberty, and justice that make America great; Mr. President please veto this bill,” said Pullen.

“I am very proud of Arizona’s Republican members of Congress, John Shadegg, Trent Franks, Jeff Flake, and Rick Renzi, who stood tall with our military men and women and voted against this terrible bill,” concluded Pullen.

For more information, please contact Brett Mecum at 602.957.7770.

ARIZONA CIVIL RIGHTS INITIATIVE COMING TO 2008 BALLOT

Here’s the latest email on the Civil Rights Initiative –

Plans for Anti-Preferences Campaign Announced

The Arizona Civil Rights Initiative is forging ahead with plans for a November, 2008 ballot measure banning government-sponsored race and gender preferences in the state. The Arizona Civil Rights Initiative will be part of a ‘Super Tuesday for Equal Rights’ campaign that will offer citizens of several states the chance to end such practices in public employment, public education, and public contracting. Similar measures have already passed in three other states, all by overwhelming margins.

Clint Bolick, co-founder and former litigator for the Institute of Justice and currently Director of the Goldwater Institute for Constitutional Litigation, said it’s time for Arizona to stop increasing the number of people who are given preferences because of their race. “The courts have repeatedly struck down laws promoting racial preferences for violating the Constitution,” said Bolick, who has successfully litigated on behalf of many minority clients hampered by unconstitutional government regulations.  “We need to move beyond the ideological partisanship that has extended racial preferences into the 21st century. Racial preferences don’t work, and harm the very people claimed to benefit from them.” Bolick has agreed to be the Arizona legal advisor.

Andrew Thomas, Maricopa County Attorney, will serve as the honorary chair of the effort. Thomas said, “I am pleased to join in this effort to bring about a colorblind society and equality under law.  This vision of civil rights is grounded in our Constitution and informed by our experience as a nation.”

Also attending the press conference will be Ward Connerly, chairman of the Sacramento-based American Civil Rights Institute and longtime crusader for a colorblind America, who has been invited by the Arizona Civil Rights Initiative to help with the campaign. “Getting our nation to the point of applying a single standard to all Americans is one of the most crucial issues of our time,” says Connerly, who helped lead the earlier successful anti-preferences campaigns in California, Washington state and, most recently, Michigan.

“If events of the past couple of weeks have taught us anything at all, it is that race will continue to divide our nation as long as we insist on treating people differently based on ethnicity and gender. Both Don Imus, in his appalling comments on the Rutgers women’s basketball team, and those who rushed to judgment in the Duke lacrosse case made the same mistake: they looked at individuals and saw only skin color.”

Connerly continued, “We have to get past that kind of thinking – and we must start by getting our government out of the business of privileging some citizens over others. Real lives are radically affected, and great social and economic is done when decisions are made about individuals based on the color of their skin or the origin of their ancestors.”

The operative clause of the proposed ballot initiative reads as follows: “The state shall not discriminate against or grant preferential treatment to any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education or public contracting.”

Jennifer Gratz
Director of State & Local Initiatives
American Civil Rights Coalition
Direct:  517-281-6738
Office:  916-444-2278

McCain Announces

Arizona Senator John McCain made it official today by announcing that he will be seeking the Presidency in 2008. The event took place in New Hampshire, not Arizona (story).

Of course, this happens on the day the US Supreme Court raises doubts on the consitutionality of the Senator’s infamous campaign finance “reform” act.

The Justices on the Supreme Court are not the only ones raising doubts about Senator McCain’s activities. This blogger will go out on a limb at this time and predict that Arizona’s senior senator will not finish the campaign.

In a Townhall.com post by Matt Lewis, the Senator has spent most of the campaign’s money on consultants. According to Lewis’ post, “While Senator McCain prided himself on being a Spending Hawk, his campaign was, in fact, spending money on consultants like “a drunken sailor.”

Campaign finance reports demonstrate that the McCain campaign paid one fundraising consultant named Carla Eudy an average of $20K/month depleting the $12.5 Million it raised to just over $5 Million. Lewis continues, “Certainly, Eudy wasn’t the only high-paid McCain consultant.  But her fee was indicative of a campaign that spent almost half of what they raised.  While much has been made over McCain’s anemic fundraising numbers, the amount of money being paid to high-priced consultants is perhaps, more concerning.”

What is more interesting is that the McCain campaign has decided to replace Eudy in the fundraising department. Perhaps, they’ll do better with a new hired gun raising and spending the money.

Ah, the irony of the high court’s doubts on campaign finance reform and the fundraising woes of Arizona’s senior senator.

GOP Candidate Assessment – CD5

The following post is an assessment of the potential Republican Primary candidates in Arizona’s Congressional District 5. In Nov 2006, Congressman J.D. Hayworth lost the seat in the General Election to Democratic State Senator, Harry Mitchell by a vote of 93,815 to 101,838. Currently, the voter registration stands at 87,394 Democrats to 139,057. It is almost guaranteed that the next congessman elected in Congressional District will be the winner of the Republican Primary in September, 2008.

GOP Candidate Assessment – Congressional District Five, Arizona

We’re still more than 16 months away from the next primary election and already Republican insiders are spinning at high speed regarding potential candidates in CD 5, which is currently held by Democrat Harry Mitchell.  There has been a lot of chatter (including some wild accusations and downright misinformation) flying around Arizona-based blogs.

So, let’s review the list of potential candidates and some information about them in as straightforward a manner as we can.  We’ll go alphabetical so as not to face accusations of favoring anyone.

Anderson, Mark

Solid conservative with a stellar voting record on most counts.  Although CD 5 has only a portion of LD 18, it is a portion in which Mark happens to live.  Mark is very well respected by conservatives, but frustrates the more libertarian-leaning with his willingness to use government for social conservative outcomes.  His membership in the Unification Church (better known as Moonies) could be a weakness because it is easy to shoot at someone’s religion when you don’t know much about it.  A bigger weakness will be the money game.  He has never had to raise more than $30K for his legislative races.  A serious candidate will need to raise that much about every ten days.

General issues: Dems attack his religion and his hard-right voting record.

Bitter-Smith, Susan

Susan has run twice for Congress and lost (first to Salmon, then to Flake).  She is well-known in Scottsdale and well-respected.  She currently serves on the Central Arizona Water District Board which manages the Central Arizona Project.  Smart and savvy, her weakness in a Republican primary is her position on life – she is pro-choice.

General issues: Dems attack her as a has-been and for being a lobbyist.  Strong social conservatives could take a pass, which would hurt.

Hallman, Hugh

Most insiders are saying that Hallman will not run.  But, as a smart guy elected in the heart of CD 5, until he publicly says no, it’s a possibility.

General issues: Hallman would fare pretty well against Mitchell, however, he’d take heat for “abandoning” Tempe to run against one of it’s own.

Hatch-Miller, Jeff

Jeff is termed out for Corporation Commission so running for something makes sense.  He is not known as a hard charging conservative, but takes whatever he is doing very seriously.

General issues: Dems try to make hay out of his votes on the Corp. Comm.  Try to hit him on carpet-bagging.

Knaperek, Laura

Laura has the advantage of being a pro-life woman in a potential field of mostly men.  While she lost her last race in the “Democrat sweep,” her loss was much more narrow than either Hayworth or Kyl within the confines of LD 17.  She won nearly 30 precincts in LD 17, while Kyl won about 10 and Hayworth didn’t win any.  That portends some potential strength in the middle of Mitchell’s base.  With a 16 point Republican advantage in the district, she could capitalize on her name ID and goodwill within the district.  As with most of the candidates, she has never had to raise the kind of money that will be required of this race.  Major advantage is that she has represented the majority of the current CD 5 as a result of serving in the legislature during a round of redistricting.

General issues: Dems attack her as a two time loser.  Overreach and come across looking mean for attacking a woman.  Attack her for being pro-life.

Liddy, Tom

Thanks to his role as a radio talk show host, Tom likely has the most name ID of anyone contemplating running.  Of course, that can be a double-edged sword.  Who knows if anyone has kept tapes of all the hours of radio Tom has down over the years.  Some of his stuff has been over-the-top (as is necessary for radio entertainment) but he is a thoughtful guy who is very smart.  He’s run and lost (in the same primary as Bitter-Smith) to Flake which may or may not play a factor.  Downside, his dad is G. Gordon Liddy.  Upside, his dad is G. Gordon Liddy.  In the end, more upside (money), than downside.  The unknown factor in this is that his mother is battling breast cancer and he has always put family first.

General issues: Dems dredge up some of the outlandish things Tom has said on the radio.

Meyer, Mike

Relatively unknown (or forgotten) to most rank-and-file Republicans, Mike was a losing candidate to Doug Wead and Phil MacDonnell in 1992 primary in the old CD 6. (Wead went on to lose to Karen English in the general)  Meyer has long wanted to run again, and he may see this as his best shot.  He is involved in the health care industry, so he’ll be competent on those kinds of issues.

General issues: Dems attack Meyer for not favoring universal health care.

Noble, Sean

Sean is a long-time staffer of Congressman John Shadegg starting in 1994 as Shadegg’s campaign manager.  One of the more experienced campaigners among the potential candidates, he will face the age-old issue of whether the manager can be the candidate.  His major strengths will be his conservative credentials and his ability to raise money, which he has done with Shadegg for years.  In addition to his campaign experience in Arizona, he has helped some major players including Pat Toomey (now Pres. of Club for Growth) who ran against Arlen Specter (PA) in a primary and Tom Coburn (OK), the most conservative member of the U.S. Senate.  And, he would almost certainly have the support of Shadegg, who last cycle raised a whopping $900K for the NRCC (much of which was spent to defend Hayworth) and gave away another $300K to Republican candidates. Major weakness for Sean, zero name ID among the voters.

General issues: Dems attack Noble for being a right-wing nut who has worked for the likes of Shadegg, Coburn, Toomey and Munsil.  They try to hit him for carpet-bagging.

Ogsbury, Jim

Jim is well-known and well-liked with insiders.  While his career has mostly been in Washington, D.C., he is a native Arizonan and hails from CD 5 where he attended high school and ASU.  No question that he knows the inner-workings of Congress better than anyone else, but that will likely cut both ways in a primary.  Voters want a competent Congressman (who, unlike Mitchell, can find the bathroom in less than three months) but primary voters will be wary of the insider status – particularly since his specialty has been the Appropriations Committee.   He will likely be able to raise pretty good money and is rumored to have some of his own that he could put in if need be.  However, he also has no name ID.

General issues: Dems try to claim that Ogsbury’s history with the appropriations committee and being a lobbyiest makes him a part of the “culture of corruption.” 

Salmon, Matt

Matt has told various insiders that he is not likely to run.  However, if he did jump in, he’d have instant frontrunner status because of his name ID and ability to raise money.  The other potential candidates are praying that he takes a pass.

General issues: Dems attack Salmon for being too partisan (forgetting that their guy was the Democrat Party Chairman) and for being a lobbyist for the same firm that employed Abramoff years earlier.

Schweikert, David 

David, former State Legislator and current County Treasurer, has been running for this seat, in one way or another, since the day he lost to J.D. Hayworth in the primary in 1994.  He is smart, ambitious and one of the hardest working people in politics.  And his new bride is said to be just as motivated as he is, which is a huge deal in a Congressional race.  He likely knows more detail about the district than anyone else, which demonstrates, to some degree, one of his weaknesses – he is a bit geeky, but in a charming way.  He is a solid conservative (he actually ran to the right of Hayworth in 1994).  Little known factoid: Sen. Karen Johnson was his assistant when he served as the Majority Whip in the state legislature.

General issues: Dems (and the New Times) attack Schweikert for his role in the LD 20 recount and for not releasing the ballots to the Senate.  Dems have an universal heart attack when they realize they are taking the same position as Sen. Jack Harper.
That’s the potential field.  Yes, I’m sure I’ve missed someone and there are probably others who no one has talked about yet.  Here are my predictions on how this plays out.

Anderson – ultimately does not run.  The money mountain is too daunting.

Bitter-Smith – a wild card, but I would guess she doesn’t run.

Hallman – decides the risk is a little steep when he can likely coast to re-election as Mayor of Tempe, therefore keeping him viable for future runs.

Hatch-Miller – if history is a guide, he’ll talk about it, mull it over, and decide against.  He would also have to move (although I don’t think the whole carpet-bagger claim is much of an issue – just ask McCain, Franks and Renzi – who all moved into their districts to run).

Knaperek – strong likelihood that she runs.  Timing seems to be right, and she has a unique set of strengths no one else has.  If she can raise the money, she’s the one to beat.

Liddy – still young enough to seek office later.  With a young family and a sick mother, probably decides against.

Meyer – probably runs because time does not stand still.
Noble – young family, has to move, no natural base of support. With Renzi’s trouble, Noble’s name has been floated by some insiders for CD 1 because he grew up in the White Mountains and is a Mormon – two potential advantages in that district.  Likely doesn’t run.

Ogsbury – all signs point to a run for Jim.  He is a thoughtful guy who wouldn’t take the steps he has already taken if he wasn’t very, very serious.  And, real Arizona men wear bola ties – which Jim proudly does, so watch for a resurgence (which will make Sen. Jake Flake very happy.)
Salmon – doesn’t run.

Schweikert – it would take an act of God to keep David out of this race. 
If my predictions play out, Knaperek and Schweikert battle for the conservative vote, and Ogsbury tries to gain a plurality with the rest.  Meyer will be a small factor, but with three men and one woman, I’d give Knaperek the edge in that scenario.

OK comment posters… fire away!

More on the civil rights announcement

Just received this press release from the American Civil Rights Institute, looks like local county attorney Andrew Thomas is involved –

Maricopa County Attorney, Andrew Thomas, will be joined by Ward Connerly, Chairman of the American Civil Rights Institute (ACRI), for a major press announcement regarding Super-Tuesday for Equal Rights.

WHEN: Thursday, April 26th at 9:00 AM

WHERE: Capitol Rose Garden (located west of the House and North of the annex hallway)

1700 W Washington St
Phoenix, AZ

Contact: Jennifer Gratz (517) 281-6738 or (916) 444-2278

Burger update!

burger.jpg     Reports from one of our contacts in Central Tucson indicate that the In-N-Out at El Con Mall is now open. Our source mentioned long lines and large crowds.

Maricopa ain’t got nothing in Pima now.

This is Exactly the Type of Candidate We Need to Retake the Hayworth Seat

Not Exactly.

Jim Ogsbury, a DC lobbyist with Arizona connections is planning to run in the Republican Primary for AZ-05. According to Ogsbury’s own bio on the Triadvocates website, Ogsbury has spent “fifteen years inside the Capital Beltway.”

For those of you who don’t know much about Ogsbury – and why would you, he has spent the last 15 years in Washington DC. Ogsbury is a DC lobbyist whose self-acknowledged specialty is getting pork for his clients.

Now let’s rewind to the 2006 election. JD Hayworth, a good man, and a good conservative, came under withering attacks by Harry Mitchell and the DCCC for among other things, being too close to lobbyists, being too much of a DC insider who had forgotten his roots, and being part of the Republican culture of pork barrel spending in Congress.

Well at least the Democrats won’t have to reinvent the wheel if Ogsbury is the nominee.

Ward Connerly in Phoenix April 26

Several sources have confirmed that Ward Connerly will be in Arizona on April 26. Speculation is growing that he will be here to announce the inauguration of a ballot initiative to end preferences and double standards based on race, sex, color, ethnicity and national origin in government activities.