Tuesday, June 20, 2006

State of the Campaign- Steve Huffman

The Good- Campaigns need money, and Steve is by far leading the pack in this area. His numbers far outpace his Republican competitors and place him favorably against Gabby Giffords who seems to have a money tree in her backyard. Hopefully he would be able to avoid spending a great deal of his cash on the Primary so it could be used in the general. Steve also received the endorsement of the incumbent, which any of the other candidates would have killed to have. It has certainly been a large factor in his fundraising. His endorsement list outside of Kolbe is pretty impressive as well, especially Bob Walkup, Jim Click, and Christine Olsen.

The fact that the Transportation initiative passed was good as well. Had it failed, it could have been a large setback. Steve has a provable record of cutting taxes, which will also be a large feather in his cap come election day.

Finally, Steve seems to have inherited Kolbe's campaign apparatus which will be a large boon in not only fundraising, but will certainly help him run a tighter campaign and save him from missteps he may have made otherwise. There is also a better chance for favorable media coverage based on the connections that Kolbe had previously built.

The Bad- Steve has Grassroots problems. 1098 signatures on the filing deadline was simply pathetic. It is easy to say that a large number of signatures may not demonstrate that a candidate is in the catbird seat, but certainly a low number is troublesome. Steve has also been a no-show at some candidate events, there are several rumors as to why this is, but Steve needs to be there. There should be nothing more important than these events at this point in the campaign.

Although Steve has a proven record of tax-cutting, he is very vulnerable on the charge that he is a big spender. This may not be a large issue in the general election, it will certainly be present in the Primary and it will matter there. Also, he is quite squishy on immigration. He has a nice high level view of the issue on his website, and has repeated those points at the live appearances I have attended, but there are actual bills that are being debated, and he will need to address the specifics of those bills. Five short talking points are simply not sufficient enough to win the primary. He will need to break from Kolbe here. I cannot call if being "pro-choice" will matter here, but it could become an issue.

Finally, Steve has a reputation of "going negative." Whether this is deserved or not doesn't really matter, it's there. Should he do this, it could backfire. My sources are pretty sure that he was at least in the loop if not directly responsible for the Graf "leak." In any case as we discussed previously, he has certainly left himself open to this charge, due to his past reputation.

What Next?- The most important thing that Steve needs to realize is that although he has the endorsement of the incumbent, he is not the incumbent and needs to stop running as if he were. I believe, until shown otherwise, that Graff currently retains his 43% that he received two years ago. That would leave Steve and Mike Hellon competing over the remaining 57%. If you believe that Hellon is viable enough to take at least 15% of the vote, and I have not seen anything to believe otherwise, then Huffman is in the hole. (I have to admit that I cannot get a handle on who the remaining candidates draw from).

Mainly, Steve needs to give people a reason to vote for him other than he is not Randy Graf. To do this he needs to tighten up his immigration platform. Although it would be almost impossible to get to the right of Graf on this issue, he could at least use the language of the current House Bill to at least neutralize Graf on this issue with undecideds. The House Bill is not just a winner in the Primaries it will be a winner in the General as well.

Ideally, Steve needs an important issue to make his own. I would recommend earmark reform as a good candidate. It would help neutralize charges of him being a porker, and would resonate in the Primary. Flake and Shedegg have done well with this and it is ripe for somebody to champion in this campaign.

Finally, if Huffman was in on the Graf scandal, it was a very clumsy move. There is a difference between a bully and an assassin. If you are going to play rough, play to kill, otherwise you look like an oaf. By "outing" Aiken this early, he has given Graf more than enough time to recover. Additionally any voters drawn from Graf would be more likely to move to Hellon which doesn't really benefit Steve that much. It is possible that there are more "revelations" that the Huffman campaign is saving to be release at other times, but it would make him look small. It would be much better to run a clean campaign and keep your powder dry to use only if needed. If Huffman feels threatened this early on, he is certainly in more trouble than any of us have realized. I would assume this was a misstep by an overzealous staffer at this point unless proven otherwise.


sirocco said...

Well, it's hard to evaluate how much involvement Huffman had in the Graf issue without knowing your source. It still seems unlikely to me because of the timing issue -- it's just too early to really help Huffman (or anyone else).

I'd love to know how solid that 43% Graf got last election is. I understand your reasoning, but for some reason I feel it's weaker than that. I have no evidence for that, however, just feeling.

I agee though that if that Graf support remains solid, Huffman needs to get Hellon out of the race.

Framer said...

My gut (no proof or rumor whatsoever) is that this was actually done by Kolbe or Kolbe's staff. There is definately no love lost between Graf and Kolbe.

Now whether Huffman knew about it or not, he was very quick to leap on the news. The situation had done as much damage as it was going to do without Huffman interjecting himself. Had he simply refused comment he could have come off better.

I think that the larger danger is not that he looks slimy, but that it was rookie move that was pulled off clumsily. Not looking "ready for prime time" is something he needs to avoid.

Framer said...

And as far as Graf's previous support remaining solid, that is the real mystery. Until we see some sort of poll or news to the contrary I cannot see a sufficient difference in Huffman or Hellon from Kolbe that would cause someone that voted against Kolbe to vote for either of them. The only piece of information we have, the petition signatures would seem to bear out the assumption that Graf has more grassroots right now.

Now an argument may be made that Jenkins or Antenori may cut into Graf's base, but I would think that they would draw from both the 43% and the 57% equally. Hopefully we will get a poll on this soon.

Chris said...

“cannot call if being “pro-choice” will matter” With all the RINO hunters (http://www.sonoranalliance.com/) running around NW Tucson this year it will matter.

also see http://www.azlifepac.org/

Kralmajales said...

Another great post...this site is good reading for this independent who leans liberal. I am also kind of an armchair political pundit so this is great stuff.

On Graf's 43% support from last time. Remember...that was when he was facing a fairly popular incumbent. That Graf could earn that much support when challenging an incumbent means a lot to me. While that was only 2 years ago, the border issue has only gotten bigger and bigger. It also tells me that there were a large number of conservatives unhappy with Kolbe. Well, Huffman appears as moderate (er liberal) as Kolbe (maybe more so) and he is NO Kolbe. So I am betting that the support for Graf was pretty solid. The outing of his manager, however, was a clear design on making conservatives think about who they are supporting. I just wonder if this will make them look elsewhere (but where???? Hellon maybe?) or embolden them behind Randy.

I am a Giffords supporter, by the way, for full disclosure. Was once a Republican, now an independent. Ya'll have just spent me away from the party, beat up on the LGBT crowd, and worried me seriously about your stances on freedom and civil liberties (with the war and the monitoring of Americans...).

Im out!!! Best,


Anonymous said...

The buck stops here. Huffman would do well to remember this sage advice from Harry Truman. That, and that you are known by the company you keep. I refer, of course, to his association with Graf-hater Kolbe. Regardless of Huffman's role, his campaign has violated Ronald Reagan's 11th Commandment. Not that Kolbe could ever be confused with Reagan. I suspect Graf's 43% just got a lot more entrenched.

David R. Blevins said...

In response to Huffman being strong on tax reduction I give you insight about what the Arizona Federation of Taxpayers has disclosed on bill SCR1025 that limits yearly property evaluation increases in the House Ways and Means Committee, Mr. Huffman prevented it from going to a floor vote in the House. It had already passed the Senate, and did NOT need the Govenors signature to go the the November ballot.The Arizona Federation of Taxpayers has given Huffman a "Needs improvement" rating, and is not a taxpayer ally. With Click and Diamond backing Huffman, you can see that Huffman is backed by "the power of MONEY". I just hope that as the election progresses, we can get a Congressman voted into office based on the people's vote and not the "MONEY" vote. My best hope is for Mike Jenkins to stir the pot of popular votes and create some positive action and have the "people" represented in Congress for a change. Can we remember what that was like??

DPNiemi said...

Tax and spend Steve Huffman sure did assist in raising our taxes with the Regional Transportation Authority win at the polls. I’d call Mr. Huffman a tax and spend politician, not our savior from excessive taxation. .5% sales tax added to all purchases, excepting food and prescriptions and heavily benefiting road improvements to developers properties. Since Mr. Huffman is a realtor, somehow his interest does not surprise me.

Tax and spend! Don’t tell me that Mr. Huffman supports tax control legislation. Mr. Gould of Mojave County introduced a bill on property taxes that Mr. Huffman stuck in his drawers. It’s nice to have power as head of committees, but power is easily abused.

Taxes are too high and we don’t need Mr. Huffman in there making sure we pay for projects like Rio Nuevo, that siphon off about $700,000 a month from the Tucson budget to earmarked projects. Rio Nuevo was originally a voter approved 10 year project, but Mr. Huffman and enough of the legislature felt that voters should be deprived of a vote to extend Rio Nuevo for 12 more years. Rio Nuevo district gets a tax rebate but the city is required to provide matching funds. This was a voters’ issue, not a legislative issue.

Based on these two instances, Mr. Huffman has a tax and spend mentality.