Before yesterday I would have given a slight edge to Gabrielle Giffords in the upcoming race for CD-8 between her and Tim Bee. Then someone sent this tidball08 link to me. CD-8 is not dominated by either party although Republicans hold a slight plurality in registration. The number or registered and Independents and No Party is almost as large as the quantity of registered Democrats. (See the Secretary of State’s web site for the latest numbers.)
Tim Bee and his allies did an excellent job of clearing the field in the Republican primary. Likewise Giffords does not face any known opposition in her primary. What I have not heard about up to this point is a credible Independent candidate and Derek Tidball may be that candidate. According to his campaign site Tidball is veteran of the 101st Airborne and served in Afghanistan (neither Bee or Giffords have served in the armed forces.)
The big question is how does Tidball’s candidacy affect the other candidates. Just the fact that he is an Independent should give Giffords hart burn, since she has to make up her deficit in party registration by attracting a majority of the Independents.
Bee is generally popular within the party and should have a solid lock on party faithful, social conservatives, and the pro-gun crowd. Giffords has not been antagonistic toward the NRA crowd but with a Clinton, Obama, or Edwards set to be at the top of the Democratic ticket look for the NRA to be out in full force and the A-rated Bee will benefit from the mobilization of that voting block. Bee has not yet secured the fiscal conservative wing of the party but we hear talk that he is courting that wing of the party. The small but rabid anti-Sproul faction of the party (Google Tim Bee Nathan Sproul) is not amused but they are not likely to defect to Giffords or Tidball. Few if any of Bee’s core voters will be attracted to Tidball’s message on the issues.
Giffords will still own the Democratic base, has received buckets of money from the usually lobbyist sources that donate to incumbents (often of both parties,) and major funding the abortion crowd at Emily’s List. The question is will her voice be heard on the issue of the war in Iraq against the backdrop of a military veteran who served in Iraq? Our thinking at this time is that Tidball could take away some of the anti-war vote from Giffords (certainly among the less partisan Independents.)
Tidball lists 6 issues on his web page. Here in the order listed on his site is our take on how each issue breaks.
Iraq – His background and position take votes away from Giffords.
Immigration – Tidball does not take a strong stand either way. This is not a signature issue for Bee or Giffords so we are inclined to list it as a wash at this time.
Energy Independence – Just the title and framing of this topic are made for Democrats. We expect that Tidball’s support for alternative sources of energy will take voters from Giffords (She made an issue of alternative energy in her last campaign.)
The Economy – Tidball sounds like a fiscal conservative on this issue. Bee is vulnerable within the party on the issue of taxes and Giffords has been weak on earmark reforms so we think Tidball takes away from both Bee and Giffords on this one.
Education – Democrats generally win by just talking about this issue but Bee come from a family of educations and has a good reputation on supporting schools. Voter who know Bee will stick with him on this issue. The question is does Tidball pull away Giffords voters who care about this issue. Probably not. We rate this one a wash.
Health Care – Tidball sounds fairly Republican on this issue but since it was not a major voting block for Bee we are not sure if effects the race much. Very slight negative for Bee.
Overall we find the Tidball candidacy a threat to Giffords. She must capture a large chunk on the Independents vote to which Tidball will appeal and Tim Bee is much less fractious than the last Republican that she faced. (She cannot count on Jim Click bankrolling the demonization of her opposition this time.) And get this, Tidball in not in the exploratory phase. He IS a candidate! We also look forward to how the “Independent” Matt over at SED will deal with Tidball. Matt fawns over Giffords but Tidball is tailor made for his outlook on the issues. Best of luck Derek and we look forward to covering your campaign extensively.