Friday, June 30, 2006

The Insider's Perspective on Huffman, Hellon, Graf

Randy Graf, though considered a conservative candidate, has no problem challenging the Republican establishment. He is a bit of a maverick not unlike Shadegg who is comfortable criticizing out-of-control Republican spending, No Child Left Behind, and Bush Administration plans for amnesty to illegal aliens. Randy certainly knows the issues and can rattle off numbers and statistics with little effort.

His support comes from grassroots conservatives especially those who claim to vote principle over party, but he also crosses political lines to pick up voters simply frustrated with inaction on the border and those from both major parties that want greater support for traditional family policies.

Randy is a very down-home kind of person. He is easy to talk to and not afraid to tell you what he thinks. His greatest weakness is that his average donation received is a fraction of what is going to his competitors.

Mike Hellon is widely considered a moderate. He takes strong conservative positions on taxes and government spending, but supports more liberal policies relating to social issues such as abortion and gay marriage.

Mike has picked up many of the traditional, long-term Republicans he has known and worked with over the years. These are the Republicans that put party first and become frustrated with those that deviate from the party line when it comes to general elections. They are the loyalists. Many Hellon supporters were upset that Graf would challenge Kolbe as an incumbent even though they, themselves, did not necessarily care for Kolbe's politics. Of course, many Kolbe supporters have now moved to Steve Huffman. Mike may also pick up some moderate independent voters.

Mike has never run for public office, so getting his name out is very important. This is probably the explanation behind all of the recent advertising. Until people know who he is, the polls will make him look non-viable.

Mike is also fairly personable. When he was a national committeeman, he did an excellent job of reporting back to his home district the state of things in Washington. He knows the issues and who's who in D.C.

Speaking in public is not entirely comfortable for Mike, but he has proven himself able to prepare and deliver a strong message in candidate forums. If he can convince party loyalists to fund his campaign, he will grow as a contender.

Steve Huffman is arguably the most liberal of the three. Like Hellon, he is liberal on social issues, but conservative on some business issues. Steve is the most supportive of amnesty for illegal aliens and has been critical of plans to build a fence on the border consistent with Jim Kolbe.

He has the ear and financial support of Kolbe supporters which will pull some voters away from Mike Hellon. Steve has little grassroots support, but has tapped the financial resources of several jumbo contributors.

He will rely heavily on advertisements late in the campaign to sway voters because interacting with people is not Steve's favorite activity. He tends to avoid places where he will have to speak publicly or privately with strangers. Steve is not well supported in his home district which tends to be more conservative, so he will be trying to reach out to the east side for support.

Don't expect to see much of Steve in public or going door-to-door, but expect lots of ads. Due to Kolbe's bitterness against Graf, the Kolbe-Huffman team is expected to be very aggressive in ads. Mike Hellon, on the other hand, will be organized and knocking doors. With the Republican leadership pressuring candidates to run clean campaigns, Mike Hellon as a dutiful Republican will avoid mud slinging. Randy Graf will be knocking doors and making public appearances where ever he can. If the Huffman ads get nasty, he will throw the gloves off potentially giving the election to Hellon.

Currently, Huffman probably has very little support. Hellon, regardless of what he says about his own polling results, has the support of many party activists, and by stepping up his position on the border seems to be gaining supporters. Randy Graf is the favorite in Hellon and Huffman's own district probably due to the conservative leanings there. But Graf will have to figure out how to distinguish himself if Hellon continues to talk tougher on the border.


Michael said...

Strange that you haven't really mentioned the most biographically and personally attractive of the candidates, whom I think has immense potential for crossover and independent appeal: Antenori.

I sure would like you guys to devote a little time and space to him. Even if he doesn't really stand much of a chance in this race, he ought to be groomed as a future candidate for the GOP. If you guys don't make the most of that fellow's raw talent, you're throwing away a real gem.

Framer said...


Its coming. We will have more on Frank and Mike Jenkins soon.

phx kid said...

Frank is a very nice guy but I remember him say that he was not that interested in other positions because of the low pay. The one thing I will give to Steve (and of course Randy) is that they both put their time in at the legislature. (Just too bad Steve voted wrong most of the time, when he did vote.) Randy was aslo on the school board where he lived.

Serving in the legislature must be a truly thankless task. It is an almost year around position and the pay can only be termed a stipend. Sure, Frank wants to be in DC making $170,000/year. He should earn it by serving in Phoenix for $24,000/year.

The Committee said...

Antenori has performed very well in candidate forums. He is Mr. Testosterone with incredible experience on border and military issues. He takes a strong stand on social issues and is a no-nonsense conservative. My impression is that he has been well-received. I have spoken with him at length and, personally, I like him. He also has a book out that may help him with name recognition. I think Frank will be a strong candidate for a position in the future. Just not in this one.

Jane Arizona said...

Wow. The day that a Contract with America Republican like Shadegg is referred to as a "maverick"...

Dorothy, we're not in 1994 anymore...

phx kid said...

Jane the amazing thing is that Trent Franks ran against Shadegg when it was an open seat. What did have to disagree on?

Vandy said...

Isn't Hellon a "johnny come lately" to the border issue? Graf has been banging the drum for a long time about border security. I hear Mike's commecials on the radio a lot, and he seems to be echoing what popular opinion is. However if you look at his track record, he hasn't been a strong borders guy. Isn't this just another case of someone doing what the polls say they should do? How do we know he'll maintain his position?

phx kid said...

Vandy that is what is great about never having served in public office. You have no record and can say what ever you want. Mike and Patty Weiss get a free ride in this sense. In the case of Hellon I do not agree with all of his positions but I do believe that he is honest. That sets him apart from the Steve guy.

phx kid said...

Hey wake up. You are behind on the news.

Frank Antenori said...

QUOTE from phx kid:
Frank is a very nice guy but I remember him say that he was not that interested in other positions because of the low pay. The one thing I will give to Steve (and of course Randy) is that they both put their time in at the legislature. (Just too bad Steve voted wrong most of the time, when he did vote.) Randy was aslo on the school board where he lived.

Serving in the legislature must be a truly thankless task. It is an almost year around position and the pay can only be termed a stipend. Sure, Frank wants to be in DC making $170,000/year. He should earn it by serving in Phoenix for $24,000/year.

I usually don’t respond to posts on blogs, but after being told about this by one of my supporters, I could not let the above comment go without responding.

So, phx kid, you’re under the impression that somehow I should pay my dues and “earn it” by serving in Phoenix for $24,000 a year.

I would like to remind you that for TWENTY years, I served this country on an enlisted man’s salary. Not working 100-120 days a year like those in the legislature, but 365 days a year as an active duty soldier in the Special Forces.

The average military day is 12 hours long, with 18 hour days being common. Those days seem particularly long while on deployments, where at times you are unable to call your family for weeks, let alone not seeing them for months at a time. With maybe the exception of teachers, I believe soldiers probably have the most thankless job, but it is definitely not members of the State Legislature.

Unlike the offices of the State Legislature where the biggest thing you have to worry about was fending off criticism for a vote you made, I spent my time getting shot at, shelled and bombed. I did not have an air conditioned office, but carried everything I owned in a 100lb pack on my back, living in the mud, dirt and filth of the Third World and dealing with temperatures that ranged from -20F to well over 120F.

The opponents you mentioned, no mater how much they read, how many advisers they hire and how many Discovery Channel shows they watch will never gain the experience I have gained.

I have hunted al-Qaeda terrorists in the mountains of Afghanistan, fought Fadayeen fighters in the streets of Mosul Iraq. I worked with DEA Agents in Pakistan and Border Patrol Agents along the southern borders of Texas and California to intercept hundreds of tons of opium, marijuana and methamphetamines headed for the streets of America.

Over the years I also attended to thousands of people in need as a paramedic in NYC and San Antonio, as well as many years as a volunteer EMT in Pennsylvania. I have learned about our nation’s healthcare system first hand, from the inside, not from a government report, or some lobbyist for the pharmaceutical industry.

When it comes to international issues, something that the other candidates have NO EXPERIENCE, I can also say I paid my dues as well.

I’ve conducted humanitarian aid missions in Haiti and Somalia; worked in AIDS and Tuberculosis clinics in South Africa and Swaziland, treating thousands of impoverished people afflicted with those terrible diseases; and I trained the Botswanan military on counter poaching operations to reduce the poaching of African elephants and rhinos.

I have been to five of the seven continents, visited 34 countries and have eaten dinner with Kings, Prices and Presidents of four of those countries; I’d like to see any of my opponents come close to gaining that experience.

If anyone needs to pay their dues, it’s some of my opponents. Unlike them, I have actually stood up and put my life on the line to defend the Constitution the eventual winner of the CD 8 race will swear an oath to uphold upon taking office. When I get to Washington, I’ll be able to quickly pick up and gain experience in parliamentary procedure, whereas my opponents will NEVER gain the experience I have.

I not only consider myself “dues paid,” but more than ready to represent the people of Southern Arizona in Washington with honor and integrity.

So, phx kid, I hope this provides a clarification of your comment that I need to “earn it.” If you should desire to comment further, feel free to contact me at my campaign email address:

Frank Antenori
Candidate for Congress
Arizona’s 8th Congressional District

phx kid said...

Frank you are much better qualified than the other candidates in many areas. The primary duty of a congressman is legislation so it is nice to have someone who has actually been in the legislature.

You service to this county has been invaluable. It is the reason that we can freely exchange ideas. I appreciate it but think military service is different than legislative experience.

Your international experience is great. It would qualify you for an excellent position in the state department or other part of the administration that works a lot overseas.

I hope that you realize your issue in this race is not my comment on some blog but your lack of name ID. You also chose to enter a race in which many party activists had already lined up behind a conservative candidate.

I did not mean to attack your qualifications. I apologize for the “earn it” line but I stand by all the other stuff. I was specifically responding to the comment by Michael that “he ought to be groomed as a future candidate.” It is my understanding that you are not interested in many other positions, especially the low paying legislature. You are welcome to correct me if I am wrong. In your post you choose to ignore the main theme of the posts by Michael and me: that you will not win this race and what your level of interest was in running for office in the future. Michael is the one who said “he doesn’t really stand much of a chance.”

x4mr said...

I was at the Willcox Forum, and must say that I was impressed with Frank and what he had to say.

Must also commend his courage to go into a democratic forum as the only republican and speak his convictions to a room highly likely to be against some if not most of them. It was interesting (and I posted about it somewhere) that there were quite a few areas where dems had common ground with Frank.

Not that folks care enough to speculate, but yes I am an independent, though currently in a very blue mood due to current White House.

Wish GOP had more of Frank and a lot less of W, Cheney, and Delay.

phx kid said...

I can see how Frank would do well among independents. His problem is that he is running in a Republican primary and has very little name ID.

Joel Gaines said...

Phx Kid, Don't back off so quickly. There is something in what you have said. I am not inclined to get involved in comments, but I'll make an exception here.

I admire Frank Antenori - he is an undoubted patriot and a hero. There is no doubt he is intelligent and I have heard him speak eleoquently. However...

According to his bio, Mr. Antenori has been in Tucson since 2004. Now, I love the fact that he loves Arizona so much that he jumps right in to serve us - there is a Wyatt Earp sort of factor here that is very appealing. But really - how can onepossibly know enough about issues impacting Arizona voters in two years without any previous political involvement here? I have not known Frank as an activist of any sort either.

I am not trying to start a contest to see who can urinate the farthest (or most accurately for that matter), but Frank's response to Phx Kid was an "in-your-face" summary of qualifications that do not equal "political savvy". I think earning your US House seat via making a name for yourself in state politics is preferable to the "I'm with you guys, take my word for it" approach. This is a once bitten, twice shy voting block of Republicans - you have to remember that.

I would advocate for Frank Antenori in a heartbeat for a state seat, where we are as much in need of help as in Washington. I would join forces with him on some secret mission of the right-wing conspiracy (buahahahaha) somewhere in Arizona. What I would not enjoy is watching Frank split the conservative vote in the primaries - that would not instill any confidence in his ability to understand the political importance of not having a moderate representing republicans in the general.