A Day At The Races LD-12

From time to time, Sonoran Alliance will be previewing the 2008 legislative contests, looking at the candidates and issues involved in the top districts in the state.

A Day At The Races LD 12

Senate: There may or may not be a race here in this Glendale/Surprise based district. The incumbent is Republican Robert Blendu, a relatively conservative State Senator with his eyes on the Senate Presidency. If he faces a challenge at all it will come from term-limited fellow-GOPer, State Representative John Nelson. Nelson is equally conservative and has had a longer political career than Blendu that includes some time on the Phoenix City Council. If this primary occurs it will be an interesting race featuring two very similar candidates. Both are good fundraisers and both begin the contest with plenty of money in the bank. There is still some question whether or not Nelson will run or if he will simply wait two years for Blendu to hit his own term limits and vacate the office. As far as the general election goes, the Democrats have tried to beat Blendu in the past and were very unsuccessful. Additionally, the district has grown increasingly Republican over the last several years, so much so that the Democrats failed to field any candidates in the House or Senate races in 2006.

House: With John Nelson reaching the end of his term, Republicans in the district had been looking for someone to team up with State Representative Jerry Weiers. Weiers is the brother of the Speaker of the House Jim Weiers and he is reliably conservative on every issue. Local GOPers believe they have their man and they are very excited about their recruited candidate, Steve Montenegro. Montenegro has already earned the endorsements of Weiers and, more importantly, U.S. Congressman Trent Franks, for whom he works. The Franks endorsement is huge in this district and the manner in which Montenegro has secured the backing of the PCs and leaders in the district suggests that he has been paying attention to his boss’ political skills. GOP officials are excited about Montenegro’s profile as well as his solid conservative positions. Montenegro was brought to the United States (legally!) by his parents when he was an infant and he has “made the most of the American dream” as one Republican politico describes it. In addition to his work with Congressman Franks, the bilingual Montenegro also works as a youth pastor. At this time there are no Democrats filed for these seats and, with an almost 8,000 vote advantage, it remains to be seen what effort the Democrats will make to challenge here.


  1. Passonate Moderate says

    I find your use of the label “conservative” interesting. Az federation of Taxpayers 2006 score card rates Blendu at 26th from the top, Gould being #1. Nelson is rated at 37th. The 2007 Goldwater score card rates Blendu w/ a score of 50. Nelson rates a 44. Gould rates a 77.

    What makes someone a conservative? Is it the “R” behind the name or is it voting record? Is it retoric or reality?

  2. Yea, I’m not sure about big C conservative label either. I did notice that you only called Blendu “relatively conservative” so you were obviously hedging a bit. Socially conservative + fiscally moderate = relatively conservative? Hmm, maybe…

    Glad to hear about Montenegro though. I hope he’s a Spanish speaker who can help the GOP do a better job of reaching out to the legal Latino community.

  3. John Nelson sees the big picture and is not bogged down in minutia or driven by ego. The process of government is not cut and dried; it is not possible to measure accurately everything by a scale or with a description of what is important to a special interest and truly reflect all people. They can be good guides but should not determine everything you need to know. Sometimes there are things that deserve a chance and others that need a quick kick to the curb. John Nelson knows that and shows it. He also is willing to stand up for something worth the trouble even if it is not necessarily the news worthy, “sexy” issue of the day.

    If Ron Gould, as good as he is, is the end all and be all of the conservative voice…then let’s call the session off and let Mr. Gould speak for all of us. That, however, is not the American way. Everyone gets a voice and everyone gets to choose who represents their interest most clearly. John Nelson does a fine job of that in my book.

    Blendu is his own biggest fan. If he chooses to attempt and stay on the Senate side it will be because he falsely believes he can be the next President of the Senate. Snowballs chance.

    If Nelson challenges Blendu, Nelson will win and win big. Blendu is not the community fav that Nelson is. In fact, there’s a lot of thought that he continues to hang on because he has not had a legitimate challenge from another R. If Blendu wants to stay in the legislature, he needs to run for the House.

    Steve Montenegro is a nice guy and has a heart for service but… he is a little too green and narrow in his knowledge of issues. The Dems are actively pursuing the seat vacated by Nelson. They have a D candidate with community name recognition and the ability to work the district and possibly win if the other candidate is weak. He would tear Steve up in a debate. Blendu could stop that and keep it an all R district. If Franks properly coached Montenegro, he will step aside and wait for another day should Blendu move to the House race.

  4. Someday Ann will tell us all what she does for a living that gives her such personal knowledge of so many legislative districts. Now we’re really curious, because she knows what the Rs and Ds are doing before the public does.

    That said, the idea that one candidate tearing up another in a debate does anything to swing a legislative race is silly. They’ll have a Clean Elections debate that no one goes to. Maybe the newspaper does a story. Awhile after that the Arizona Republic endorses the Democrat as “the voice of reason” in the district. How does that overcome 8,000 votes?

    If Montenegro has the Congressman’s support, he’ll be a very strong candidate. If he’s running with Jerry Weiers, he’ll be a very strong candidate. He can’t take the race for granted, but if he gets out there and works hard, knocking on doors, you have to like his chances in this Republican district.

  5. Passonate Moderate says

    I think Ann is a lobbyist.
    I also find it funny that groups that support limited government and lower taxes are “special interests”. I could have sworn that was part of the Republican Party Platform.
    I have grown tired of the Spenders are “Deep Thinkers” garbage.

  6. Not a lobbyist, not even close. Too funny!

    Many parts of LD12 are rural, with as many as 5 maybe 6 municipalities. The local talk and weekly papers influence voters. LD12 has debates sponsored by at least one of those papers, with some decent attention given to it. The persona and name recognition will make a difference.

    Please do not take this as some sort of mystery…but I hesitate to name names here…I would rather not give the D any free attention. They think they have an open slot with no incumbent. Not that the libs read this stuff, but nonetheless, my point is to strengthen the slate not weaken it.

    Passionate Moderate, I have no disagreement with you. If only real life decisions were as easy to maneuver as ideology is to affirm.

    The perception that Mr. Nelson and Mr. Blendu were not sufficiently conservative was the subject. The specificity of any ranking scale is subject to the entity not necessarily of the complete issue.

    Nelson will beat Blendu if they go head to head. If Blendu moves to the House, it secures the hold by the R’s and buys longevity.

  7. Blendu needs to move over and do what would be best for LD12. Montenegro sounds like a nice guy, but from the times I’ve heard him speak, he sounds like a youth pastor, not a policy maker. That’s not a bad thing, he just doesn’t seem right for the job.

  8. Passonate Moderate says

    Now let’s take a look at “real life decisions”.
    Which is the path of least resistance? Real Conservatives that buck leadership to vote against bad bills, the porky budget ect. or the spenders who vote yes to go along and get along and get their pet projects in the budget.

  9. No worries Ann, I’m sure there are several folks on here who can’t say who/what they are during the day.

  10. Hey, I’ve met Steve and I’ll vouch for the guy. He’s in his late-20s or early-30s, very personable, pretty conservative, and a real “people person”. All good things for someone running for office. Is he polished like a 10-year veteran? Of course not, but a Latino Republican with the affability of a youth pastor? Gotta love that if you’re the Republican Party!

  11. So being Latino makes him a good candidate? Are we supposed to vote based on race? My impression of him is he doesn’t seem like a strong leader that can buck the leadership if need be.

  12. Give it a rest Lynn, no said simply being Latino makes you a good candidate. Read it again and quit being a retard.

  13. I did read it and you do make a point to state he is Latino. Does that make him a better candidate than someone who is not? Does that make Hillary a better candidate because she’s a woman? I would assume that if he is the best person for the job his nationality would have no bearing. Silly me for thinking people should run based on their qualifcations not race. And for the name calling, could you be anymore immature?

  14. One of many things mentioned was that he was a Latino. You twisted that to imply that I was saying his single qualifying characteristic was being Latino. That was retarded. No one says that being Latino makes you a good candidate or a better candidate than a non-Latino.

    You also try to bring his nationality into it? Also retarded. He’s American. I don’t remember suggesting that his nationality should have any bearing but, you might have a point. What with Arizona law requiring legislators to be U.S. Citizens, his American nationality DOES have bearing and DOES help him to be a better candidate. Of course, I would have assumed that was so clear that it didn’t have to be explained to anyone. Hope that clears it up for you.

    Now, it could be argued that the majority party in Arizona (the GOP) should be doing a better job of outreach into minority communities and that, when they succeed in that kind of outreach, it will bear fruit in the form of more minority candidates and elected officials. I think that what we’re seeing here is the fruit of that labor and I’m glad for it.

    Twist it all you want.

  15. My mistake I did use the word nationaiolity instead of race, that’s what I get for trying to multi task. I must start proof reading. Thanks for pointing that out. As for twisting, no, I still think all your points could be made without pointing out he’s Latino. I’m not implying that it is the single reason, my point is why should it be brought up at all?. Do we make sure to point out any other persons race? Shouldn’t it be based solely on their qualifications? Here’s my point pure and simple, race, gender, or religion should have no bearing on who would make the best candidate.

  16. John,

    I agree with Lynn on this one. In listing his positive qualifications, you clearly list the fact that he is a latino. Now, I think you miss Lynn’s point. No one is saying that you said that was the only qualification. It’s the mere fact that you listed race as a so-called qualifcation that is troubling. To illustrate, what if the guy was white. Would you have said “a white Republican with the affability of a youth pastor?” Probably not.

  17. I’m gonna stick up for my guy John. If Chihp would re-read John’s post, John doesn’t use Latino as a qualification anywhere. The word appears AFTER the candidate’s qualifications have been listed. John also clarifies later that he views the emergence of quality Latino candidates as the fruit of the Party’s labor. Again, not as a qualification of a candidate, but as confirmation that the party is doing good things in an important constituency.

    Chip is troubled by something that wasn’t said. Race wasn’t a qualification and John never said it was. Any more on this and you’ll be arguing just for the sake of arguing.

    My guess is you and John agree, but you keep misreading what he wrote.

  18. On a more serious note, I think the GOP electing more minorites will only make them a stronger party. Lynn and others might not even like it being mentioned, but I hope the state party is working hard on it. Best of luck to them!

  19. I didn’t list race as a qualification. I listed age, personality and ideology. If you want to argue with those, go ahead. Lynn can come after me for being an ageist if she wants.

    But race? Wasn’t a qualification of mine.

  20. How about this, just so that we can move on, does anyone object to Steve Montenegro being Latino?

    Assuming that the answer is no, does anyone object to his being personable, young and conservative?

    Assuming that that answer is also no, why don’t we just work on getting him elected? I like the idea of a Trent Franks guy in the Legislature!

  21. My son is home from law school for Thanksgiving, he thinks this is very funny a bunch of adults posting with people calling others retard on a conservative political blog.

    Allow me to bridge the gap… I believe what John was trying to say was(but his way of putting it was a bit too…retarded isn’t the word I’m looking for but it will do)that more minorities in the party is a good thing; not because they are minority in and of itself but because they make our big tent even more so. The Republicans are the party of the first elected Black member of the US House, first woman in Congress, and the party of civil rights before the Dems hijacked and perverted a noble cause.

    Lynn accurately and maturely stated a persons minority status should not endear them based on that alone. The value of the person is in the person, not the color of their skin or gender. Then she qualified her remarks to this particular issue.

    As to the point of the original post: Steve Montenegro is a fine young man, a very nice and likable guy with a great amount of desire. I hope he sticks around. As for this race, given the challenges of the times, I see the best and strongest way to hold on to 3 R seats is for Blendu to move to the House and Nelson to run for the Senate seat.

    Should Blendu hold on and say no the switch; Nelson will challenge him and I believe prevail. The open seat will likely be challenged with a Dem that has strong name recognition in the Avondale/Goodyear/Litchfield Park area. The R’s better have a candidate that can out talk and out work someone with a very strong and deep, though liberal, understanding of a wide variety of issues and knows the district beyond Surprise. Should Blendu switch, it could possibly stop a challenge altogether.

    As much as I like Steve, I don’t see him as the guy for the job at this time and place. He has much potential, is of excellent character, and I’m sure he will be a fine statesman. Just not yet.

    P.S. Thanks Tim.

  22. Ann,

    I sure hope that your son was not home during the debate over who should be chairman of the party!

  23. Gnat,

    For such a short post that said a lot!

  24. Hey, I tried to give seed money to Steve Montenegro and he told me that he was maxed out and couldn’t take any more. That’s a good sign for his campaign!

  25. I find Steve Montenegro’s stance on illegal immigration quite hypocritical given his ties and support of illegal immigrants… don’t believe me?? Visit his father’s church in Surprise, AZ, the same church Steve Youth Pastor’s in; it’s a prominently Spanish-speaking church founded and attended by illegal-immigrants. Seems to me as if Steve Montenegro is just another politician postulating to the masses the message that many Americans want to hear.

    I’ve emailed him about this in the past and I have yet to receive a response. Visit the church and see for yourselves, it’s located in Surprise and welcomes you with a well-lighted banner which reads: “Asamblea Apostolica de la Fe en Cristo Jesus”

    – Carlos

  26. I have visited the church of Surprise, where Steve Montenegro attends. And just like every other church in the United States, there is no screening process to enter and attend. They do not perform backround checks or ask for proper ID to enter. They do not ask nationality status. They do, however, speak English and Spanish equally, as they have a translator in every service i have attended. I also know for a fact that they have both African Americans and White folks attending the church. So to say that Montenegro supports illegal imigration is absurd. And to make “ties” with that is also absurd.

  27. Wow, I accidentally wandered across a really old post and find relatively new comments on it, like six months after the thread dies? Wierd. An ugly attempt at a hit by Carlos that tries to make speaking Spanish the same as supporting illegal immigration. Glad Carlos was six months late to the actual debate!

  28. jgarcia… I will gladly respond to your comment and include evidence to support my argument:

    “… just like every other church in the United States, there is no screening process to enter and attend. They do not perform backround checks or ask for proper ID to enter. They do not ask nationality status. They do, however, speak English and Spanish equally, as they have a translator in every service i have attended…”
    I hope you take time to read the following: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apostolic_Assembly_of_the_Faith_in_Christ_Jesus Montenegro’s church is not only part of the Apostolic Assembly mentioned (which is quite evident with the huge Apostolic Assembly sign on the church), but he is also the National Secretary of the Assembly’s Messenger’s of Peace program (http://www.apostolicassembly.org/min_youth.aspx) As you will note, the Wiki entry clearly states that “most of its members have historically been Mexican immigrants.” Is this by accident? Though they may not perform “background checks or ask for ID”, it is quite obvious they knowingly cater to the illegal immigrant as a way to grow the church’s membership. Montenegro and his family are not an exception… they socialize and have a relationship with the illegal immigrant community that attend his church. Such individuals only speak Spanish and do not hide their illegal immigration status from the congregation or to the church leadership… Montenegro included. The English/Spanish services now offered are based on a deliberate attempt to reach Hispanic-American children/grand-children of the illegal immigrants who speak little Spanish, or none at all.

    “… I also know for a fact that they have both African Americans and White folks attending the church…”
    The African / White American numbers in his church are extremely low… I would say 19 of 20 church members are Hispanic… You may get 1 or 2 African/White Americans on any given church service… at most. In addition to the Wiki link above, refer to the Church Locator on the church assembly’s website (http://www.apostolicassembly.org/church_locator.aspx) and note that all pastors have Spanish sur-names. Is this by coincidence? Also, refer to Montenegro’s church website http://www.geocites.com/SurpriseApostolic/gallery.htm), out of the 33 pictured, only 1 seems to be non-Hispanic. I also found 2 videos of their church services on youtube.com (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OM5RW-qfnOo and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eyJRaMmVKfw&feature=related)… not 1 non-Hispanic person captured on the videos. Is this by coincidence? The Hispanic to Non-Hispanic ratio holds true for all the Apostolic Assembly churches in Arizona… feel free to visit them yourself or take a look at the individual church website photo galleries.

    “… to say that Montenegro supports illegal imigration is absurd. And to make “ties” with that is also absurd…”
    It’s absurd that we have an individual running for public office who on the political side, seem to be completely against illegal immigration, yet demonstrates a pro-illegal attitude through his church affiliation. Is this not a valid concern and do I not provide evidence/facts? My other concern is that he is too much of a religious fanatic given his church believes, among many other things, that wearing your wedding ring is a sign of the devil! I’m okay with politicians who follow a religion within conventional society… but Montenegro’s religion is TOO extreme, plus, he’s the pastor!

    Sorry, if the facts presented do not fit your agenda, but they are what they are…facts.

  29. Tim S.,
    All politicians are open to public scrutiny, and should be scrutinized like any other “institutions of state”… It is not an attempt to malign Montenegro, I call it ‘being a responsible citizen.’

    Never did I state “speaking Spanish the same as supporting illegal immigration…” read my response to jgarcia for details. I may be 6 months late to the debate, but the primaries are today…. which means we have enough time before the main elections so voters may have the facts on Montenegro to place an educated vote.

  30. Carlos. I respect your opinions and your ability to find facts to back them up.

    The apostolic assembly may have catered to illegal immigrants in the past. But that does not translate to prove that Steve Montenegro or his church supports illegal immigration. Would you suggest that they turn all who appear to be illegal immigrants away? Should they call Sheriff Joe whenever they get visitors they don’t know?

    You obviously have visited his church in order to make assumptions over the number of white and black members. And in your opinion, 1 or 2 out of 20 is not good enough to imply diversity. Thats fine.

    Not enough diversity to require translators. And then in your opinion, that is a “deliberate attempt to reach Hispanic-American children/grand-children of the illegal immigrants who speak little Spanish”. Oh.. and I guess when lawyers make comercials that say “Hablamos Espanol” on the bottom is also absurd. If there is a need, anywhere in an organization, you must fill it. That is why they have translators.

    And Carlos, you’re absurd if you think that Steve Montenegro’s church SUPPORTS illegal immigration.

    You speak well, write well, do research well, and yet contradict yourself. Steve is not the pastor, as you said so yourself in your first comment. He is a youth leader. You called him “youth pastor”. But you also said his father is the pastor.

    I am glad most voters are not as concerned with race as you are. I wish you the best, Carlitos..

  31. Thanks for your “ability to find facts… research well” comments… if you did the same, you would have held back before stating that I contradict myself. The following is directly from Montenegro’s website: “… serves as an Assistant Pastor/Youth Pastor at the Surprise Apostolic Assembly…” (http://www.montenegroaz.com/aboutsteve.html). His father is the “head-honcho” pastor of the church.

    The Apostolic Assembly continues to cater and solicit the illegal immigration community TO THIS DATE. Unless of course, you honestly think that it’s only by coincidence that TO THIS DATE, every single church of the Apostolic Assembly is located in areas with a high immigrant community? Given this fact, along with the facts provided in my previous post, the hypocrisy on Montenegro’s behalf is evident and clear. You then attempt to justify your argument by comparing ‘apples to oranges’ with your “lawyers make comercials” example… here’s the comparison you should be making: Would it not be hypocritical of Arpaio or Russell Pearce if they were pastors at Montenegro’s church? The answer is quite obvious.

    You see, my concern is not “race” (funny how you descend into adding personal insults by pulling out the race card), but the hypocrisy of Montenegro.

  32. Ok Carlos.

    It is only speculation and personal opinion when you say that TO THIS DATE the Apostolic Assembly still caters to illegal immigrants. Especially when your evidence is based on your perception on “high immigrant communities”. What would you consider “low immigrant communities”? Iowa? There is a church from the Apostolic Assembly there. Idaho? There are a few churches there too.

    If Arpaio or Russel Pearce were pastors at any Apostolic Assembly church, it would not be hypocritical. Simply because it is NOT fact that all Apostolic Assembly churches cater to illegal immigrants. It is still only your opinion.

    And what personal insults are you refering to? Are you somehow insulted that I mentioned race?

    This is America. I may be Mexican, but I am 100% American. And because this is America, we can both say what we want, without fear of persecution. So feel free to state your opinions that Steve Montenegro is a hypocrite. You only make yourself look silly.. IN MY OPINION.

  33. Ok j. garcia.

    First of all, whether your Mexican and/or 100% American is irrelevant to the discussion.

    Second, yes, I am very well aware that we are in America and of our American right to freedom of speech. Never did I mention/imply you should not exercise that right so I have no idea why you made such reference.

    And third, funny how you label me as ‘silly’ when you yourself have not provided any facts/evidence to support your “Apostolic Assembly does not cater to illegals” argument. It’s FACT that Montenegro’s church, an Apostolic Assembly

    church, caters to illegal immigrants. Put the “kool-aid”down and read the following:

    This first link comes from a website maintained by members of the Assembly who want to keep the churches updated on a pending lawsuit effecting the assembly and churches. It’s a copy of an actual court document they’ve posted:
    In page 2 of 10, the Plaintiff, which is the Apostolic Assembly, states the following as a FACT: The Apostolic Assembly “owns church properties across the country… for the use of local congregations. Such congregations PRIMARILY


    The following reading is quite interesting as well: http://www.upenn.edu/pnc/rodriguez.html. It is a transcript titled: Immigration and the Fracturing of Community and written by a Journalism student at University of Pennsylvania,Richard Rodriguez, who discusses his experience while visiting a small Apostolic Assembly church in East Palo Alto, OH. Here’s what I found interesting:
    “I was at this small Apostolic assembly in East Palo Alto, OH… it’s a mainly Spanish-speaking congregation. It’s along 101, right near the heart of the Silicon Valley, just across the freeway, from glamorous Palo Alto… There was a moment in the service when newcomers to the congregation were introduced to the entire group. And they brought letters of introduction from sister churches in Latin America. And up they came with their letters of introduction. And the minister would read the letter and would announce their name and their place of origin to the entire community and everyone applauded…’

    So there you have it J. Garcia. FACT: Montenegro’s church SUPPORTS illegal immigration and continues to cater and solicit the illegal immigration community TO THIS DATE. Montenegro is just another politician postulating to the masses the message that many Americans want to hear. He’s a hypocrite running for public office who on the political side, seems to be completely against illegal immigration, yet demonstrates a pro-illegal attitude through his church affiliation.

  34. Wow! now this is something.

    Hey Carlos, you’ve been to Montenegro’s church?

  35. Hey Linda, what difference does it make? Whether I visit Montenegro’s church or not is irrelevant and does not change the facts. Instead of attempting to focus the discussion on me, why don’t you provide facts to discredit my argument that Montenegro’s church, the church he pastors in, knowingly caters to illegal immigrants? If you have none, there’s nothing wrong with ceding argumentative points.

  36. I am almost a yr and a half late to this discussion but I have to add my two cents and agree wholeheartedly with Carlos. I am a member of the Apostolic Assembly of the Faith in Christ Jesus or Asamblea Apostolica de la fe en Cristo Jesus. I have never met Steve Montenegro personally but I have assisted many church services in which he preached. This church organization has, does, and always will cater to illegal immigrants from Mexico & other Latin American countries. I feel that Steve Montenegro is following a path totally different than his calling to church work. God help us. I believe Montenegro is being a hypocrite. God bless you all.

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