Blowout in Oro Valley.

     Yesterday’s Oro Valley election was a serious rout. Democrat Barry Gillaspie beat Republican Terry Parish by a wide margin. The vote count was 5,544 for Gillaspie and 3,266 for Parish with almost 34% turnout. In the primary Parish was slightly ahead of Gillaspie 3,757 to 3,415. These numbers are astounding given the voter registration numbers in Oro Valley, 11,596 Republicans, 6,856 Democrats, and 6,636 other.

     Clearly Parish was not able to use party registration to his advantage. His position in favor of the most expensive option for the Naranja Town Site would have meant higher taxes. Gillaspie favors the simpler approach to the park. The style of the two could not have been different. Engaging Parish in conversation involved a lot of listening. On the hand Gillaspie is good at listening and even if he disagrees will hear you out. Voters are still not happy about the Oro Valley Marketplace tax incentives that resulted in attracting a Wal-Mart to the area. Parish had supported the incentives for the Vestar development.

     The voting does not have much significance on other state or national elections because the local nature of the issue. Parish did not campaign as a social or fiscal conservative so voters were not judging the value of those issues. When the newly elected council members are sworn in there will be 3 Republican, 3 Democrats, and one Independent in an overwhelmingly Republican town. Truly politics is local in this case.

     The Pima County Republican Party did not get much return on their $1,500 contribution to Parish’s campaign. The Democrats donated to both Latas and Gillaspie. Barry certainly did well for the modest amount of money he spent. A few weeks ago the Parish campaign teemed up with the Tim Bee and Vic Williams campaigns to walk Oro Valley. They may want to shift strategy before the elections in September and November.


  1. Josey, you are on the ground over there. Was the grassroots unified with the established party types behind Parish?

  2. Good question. Parish was so unpopular that some conservative members of the GOP grassroots were actively working for Gillaspie.

  3. If you’ve got a Republican who supports pork and higher taxes, we should not be surprised that Republicans voted for someone else. What good is a Republican if he taxes and spends like a Democrat?

  4. Josey, Do you believe that Parish was as Rush Limbaugh stated “Dead Weight” that needs to be winnowed out or is this apart of Micheal Bryan’s apocolypse of a “Blue Tsunami”? If Parish was dead weight, should the grassroots have propped up an opponent to oppose Parish or is playing for the other side acceptable?

  5. Kralmajales says

    This is a bit more support for what I have been saying all along about this particular year in voting history. Even with the registration advantage you have in CD8 and CD5, your voters are not energized and, I think, are re-thinking your party. When you ad incumbency advantage to the equation, this means a very very large hill for Bee and whomever challenges Mitchell in Maricopa.

    I think the post is right in saying that you cannot rely on registration advantage to win in the fall. The independents are not swinging your way, your voters are moping, and the opposition is as energized as we have ever seen it.

  6. James,

    It was up to the voters and they spoke pretty clearly. Regarding what the grassroots should or should not have done there is a thing called free will. Individuals choose their own path. It was too bad the party wasted $1,500. Could have been used better somewhere else.

    This was a local race and not part of some “Blue Tsunami.”

  7. Josey,

    It is not my intention to second guess the voters or the grassroots, but try and get a sense of there are any lessons learned here.

    Thanks for the feedback

  8. Oro Valley Mom says

    How to lose an election when you’re an incumbent who belongs to the (overwhelmingly) majority party:

    1. Run as a reformer, then wait until after your first election to take money from developers to pay off your campaign debts. Nobody is looking then.

    2. Immediately go to bat for the developers by writing op-eds in their favor and agreeing to appear in their propaganda.

    3. Paint yourself as a social conservative by exploiting wedge issues like smut shops and porn in the library. In the mean time, try to have at least three spouses during your first term in office.

    4. When the time comes for re-election, go back to the developers, their spouses, employees, and friends, and remind them of how much they need for you to stay in office. Raise the maximum from all of them.

    5. Hire a slick consultant from Phoenix to handle your campaign. Have them run a couple of polls to tell you what your issues are. Nobody will notice the postmark on your mailers or the number on the caller ID for your robot calls.

    6. Cry like a baby in the press whenever one of your campaign signs blows over or you experience any other perceived slight, no matter how small.

    7. Cry like a baby in the press that the minority party is supporting your opponent(s). (This is a brilliant strategy that you learned from your high-priced Phoenix consultants. If you complain about the minority party, it will be a secret signal that all the voters in your party should vote against them and for you!!)

    8. When rule #7 results in an overwhelming, unprecedented win for challenger candidates who are not in your party in the primary, continue the same tactic in the general. Remember: Stay the Course! It might work this time!

    9. Spend an overwhelming, unprecedented amount of out-of-town developer money in the primary. Send out three or four mailers in two or three days. Then, in the general, when you have no money left and realize that election finance laws won’t allow you to ask your developer friends for more than they’ve already given, take money and endorsements from your party, but only after you’ve cried to the press that your minority opponent has “forced your hand.”

    If I think of any other good lessons, James, I’ll let you know.

  9. You left out playing games on your cell phone during council meetings.

  10. kralmajales says

    Damn OVM, that is saying it!

  11. What ever happened to vetting these guys before they get into office?

  12. Oro Valley Mom says


    I’m going to let you in on a little secret, as long as you don’t tell anyone, okay?

    There is no vetting.

    There is only the growth lobby and whether or not they think you can be bought. If yes, they will pour money into your campaign. Now, whether you spend the money wisely is still up to you, and sometimes, the good guys still sneak through because the growth whores screw up. As in the case at hand: the Oro Valley Town Council.

    By the way, this is NOT a conservative versus liberal debate. the growth lobby doesn’t care at all what your other values are, as long as you value them. They support nearly as many Ds as Rs. Napolitano, Mitchell, Giffords, Valadez, Bronson, etc., are all cases in point. As long as you support Diamond Ventures, Vestar, Exxon Mobil, etc., you will continue to find yourself flush with cash and support.

    Our job is to find the candidates who are not on the take from the growth lobby, and who support our values, and we need to support them.

  13. The ultimate vetting takes place at the ballot box.

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