Saturday, August 12, 2006

Dirty Politics and Other Lowlights

Is it dirty politics or just random vandalism that trashed one of Graf's billboards? No doubt, Joe Leiberman would struggle to accept the random vandalism explanation.

The Giffords and Graf campaigns repeat the often-chanted response that signs are for the morale of campaign workers. Their strategy is based on the notion that late signs stand out, early signs become stale. But at least one voter says he missed voting for his preferred candidate not knowing he was running because there were no signs. Then again, one has to wonder how he missed the mailers, TV/radio ads, and, in particular, the name on the ballot.

Mike Hellon still has room in his HELOC to buy ads. He is also getting greater financial support from long-time loyal Republicans. I predict a respectable second place showing in the primary for Mike. At the same time, many Graf supporters who wavered when Kolbe said Graf couldn't win the general election, may now shift their support back to Graf as Graf shows he is not likely to be defeated.

Don't believe the rumors that Huffman is throwing in the towel. It will not happen. Despite a miserable showing by every indicator, Huffman has the backing of Kolbe who will not let go of his grudge match against Graf. They have tapped the RNC who is consulting the Huffman campaign despite the unwritten "no endorsement" pledge for party officials in primary elections. The RNC's involvement in a local primary in support of a losing candidate suggests the RNC has totally disconnected from the electorate in Arizona. The way things stand, it looks like Huffman will have to arm wrestle Jenkins for third place.

Ouch! Ouch! And double ouch! Huffman has to be smarting from the endorsement from the Tucson Weekly which revealed Huffman's liberal politics. After working hard to portray himself as a conservative (every Republican candidate seems to have dropped the notion that only a moderate can win), including, not only answering the Center for Arizona Policy questions, but answering them as a conservative, this can only be seen as at least a knock down much bigger than Weiss' shutting down the Giffords ad. Nothing seems to be going Huffman's way in this election.

Frank Antenori is selling books and getting plenty of press. Unfortunately for the campaign, it doesn't seem to be translating into voter support. We would have expected greater results with a successful book launch in the heat of the campaign. It's surprising that Antenori hasn't switched to the Graf campaign as anticipated. As we get closer to poll results rumored to be forthcoming, maybe we will see a move by Antenori.

16 comments:

AZYouLikeIt said...

I do wonder if we'll see the bottom-tier candidates start falling by the wayside in the next 2 weeks in an attempt to curry favor with the likely winners.

Francine won't drop out, because she loves being the gadfly, but A-Rod is enough of a political realist that he might toss his support to Patty or possibly Gabby.

It's harder getting a read on Latas -- he's got a very loyal base of supporters, but it's not clear whether that will translate to voter support past the single digits.

Jeff is much more ideologically aligned to Patty than Gabby -- if outside polls don't show Jeff's robocalling is paying off, I wouldn't be surprised if he tosses his support to Patty.

That the RNC is quietly supporting Huffman isn't at all surprising -- my question is how much support they'll offer Graf (and whether he'll take it) if he wins the primary.

Bob said...

Huffman needs to quit lying his way into a new job. If he's proud of his record and his history of support for certain issues, why hasn't he touted them like the Tucson Weekly did? The Republican party has as many, if not more, of its own "flip-floppers" as the Democratic party, and Steve Huffman is one of them.

I'm looking forward to this Oro Valley mega-forum. It'll be interesting to see how Weiss handles the likely conservative crowd. This will be the real test to see if her ideals will connect with the broad base of voters from both camps, or if she'll weaken on her stance on some issues to try to appeal to the conservatives.

Graf, however, is getting great responses from walking from what I hear. So I predict that it will be tough crowd for ALL of the other candidates, including Hellon who's home district it is.

Jane Arizona said...

Mike Hellon still has room in his HELOC to buy ads.

:-) You just confirmed for me that if you're not Mike, you're certainly very close to him.

I enjoy your posts, BTW.

Vandy said...

I agree, Jane. I think "The Committee" might share something with ol' Mike H. ;-)

Rex Scott said...

As a former Republican (left in 2000) and now a Democrat, it's pretty apparent that Hellon is the one candidate who could unite the various factions in the GOP.

Whereas Graf supporters might have been part of the vote to oust Hellon a few years ago as RNC committeeman, my hunch is they don't recoil at the thought of voting for him like they would if Huffman won the nomination.

In the Huffman camp, although Steve originally planned to take on Hellon's ex-wife in a GOP primary for LD26 Senate, I can't see the few remaining moderates or the moneyed backers of Huffman responding to a Hellon nomination the way they would Graf's.

The risk in nominating Graf is that the moderates and independents bolt to the Democrats. The risk in nominating Huffman is that the conservatives skip the CD8 race when completing their ballots. Hellon is the low-risk choice for all Republicans.

By the way, I knew (to greater or lesser degrees) all three of these candidates when I was a Republican. While not being close with any of them, I can say that all three are decent, sincere and intelligent people. Political views aside, they are good guys. I'm sure the same is true for Antenori and Jenkins. Good luck to all...and get ready to lose in November. :)

Kralmajales said...

First, the vandalism that you report of Graf's billboard is sad and ridiculous. People do it in campaigns...topple signs, steal them, all kinds of ridiculous stuff.

AZYOULIKEIT, interesting points about canidates endorsing other candidates. I just don't know how often that occurs in primaries though. I really doubt that Latas will throw in the towel and endorse Patty though. I think he is gaining momentum and from what I have seen lately, some of his blog supporters have stopped rapidly attacking and are trying to show him off as "above it all", sincere, and dynamic (which he is).

People have talked on the republican side about a split between Hellon and Huffman that would benefit Graf. I really wonder about a potential split between Weiss and Latas, which I think you get at indirectly in your analysis of Latas backing Patty.

Unless some deal is being made somewhere, I don't see him cutting and running (pardon the pun...smile...had to say it on a republican blog). Blog for Arizona has a piece speculating on Latas becoming state party chair.

Anonymous said...

Rex,

Your analysis is excellent. I would add just a few notes.

If Huffman wins by using hit-piece attacks or push polls the far-right, hard-core might even go as far as voting for the Democrat nominee. The logic here is that it would much easier to someday get Patty or Gabby out of office in a Republican district than to get Steve out. If Steve wins he will never leave and the GOP right knows they would have another 22 years of a Kolbe clone.

Hellon is probably a little more conservative then Steve and that would help pull in more votes.

The problem is that your average Republican primary voter will not strategize as much as you have. They will probably vote for the guy they like the most. At this point that puts Graf in the lead. There is an outside scenario that Huffman and Graf destroy each other and Hellon wins. The Graf team has known for a long time that Steve will play dirty pool. The question is do they have an effective strategy to counter it or will they fall into a trap. Steve has his own negatives, his voting record and his poor attendance. And his total lack of charisma.

I guess someone is doing a negative push poll on Graf. The effort might be a little late. It has been predicted that this will be a low turnout primary with half of the voting done by early ballot. A lot of that early ballot voting is front-loaded, I know people who are done voting. If a lot of ballots are sent back in the next few days then a late hit piece by Huffman will affect fewer voters.

Because of the above reasons I still see a Graf win. It might be very close though and could get nasty.

Vandy said...

Rex,

As far as uniting the various factions in the Republican party, it simply isn't necessary. Let the McCains and Huffmans of the world show their true colors and become Democrats. Let the "far left" of the Democrats show their true colors and become part of the Socialist party (after all that's what they're really talking about: nationalized health care, abortion on demand (also known as eugenics), nanny state everything, raising the minimum wage, raising taxes, redistribution of wealth (from each accoring to their ability, to each according to their need) etc.) Let the true conservatives stay with the GOP. We're not in need of uniting with other factions because our ideas win elections, plain and simple. Part of the probelm the GOP has had lately has been a departure from core conservative ideas and making compromises that were unnecessary. Those of us who are supporting Randy Graf are doing so from a grassroots level because we are sick and tired of the GOP compromising on key principles, a la Huffman and Hellon. Remember, low risk = low reward.

Bob said...

Vandy-

AMEN!!! to all of your analysis.

Kralmajales said...

Vandy:

Not sure sure that your ideas win elections without the moderate business types in your party. They tend to "eat" or "swallow hard" the social issues in favor of your similar ideas on taxes, crime and security. The propertied, the small business owner, and the corporate exec. elite in your party, however, don't feel the same about immigration and the Christian right. As an ex-Republican, they tended to buy into Reagan's message of personal responsibility, the ability to pull yourself by your bootstraps with some basic opportunity (education), and less government is more. I am not sure they see that with the current conservative social agenda, the war, and the fact that big government is fine if you are a business and provide jobs, but is not fine for anyone else.

My 2 cents...and why you all are getting creamed in the polls.

Kralmajales said...

This goes for both parties...if you can't reconcile your base by welcoming moderates you'd better hope for a very low turnout in this election this fall.

The truth is turnout is going to be very high for a mid-year election...if you can't reconcile your base...you lose!

Framer said...

Roger,

Republicans get creamed in the "generic candidate" polls every year, but do well enough in the actual elections. That is because in the end Democrats must field an actual candidate, and the bench has been pretty thin for inpspiring candidates with actual ideas. Notice how the signage and ads for Republican candidates proclaim their party affiliation loud and proud. Now look at the ads and signs for Democrats, and see how many try to omit their party affiliation. It doesn't stop there either. Know any Democratic voters that try to pass themselves off as "independants?" George Bush's approval level is pretty low, but towers over that of congressional Democrats.

Now if you wish to measure "big tent" we can do that. To be perfectly honest the CD-8 primary has been an absolute love fest for the GOP compared to the Democratic side. This is remarkable seeing as there are actual policy differences between the candidates. All of the Republican candidates are invited to the forums and debates as well.

To compare "big tent" on a national scale look at Arlen Specter vs. Joe Lieberman.

I'm not going to say Democrats are Evil, I know many and call them my friends. I have even voted for a few in my life. However, I do see more and more the entire party drifting to the Kos side of the island and it troubles me. First, because they have a lot of kooky, conspiratorial, socialist ideas, and second, because it allows lackluster Rebublicans to take office. I like my Republicans honed by tough gentlemenly contests, and sometimes the Democratic platform (or lack thereof) makes it too easy.

What it comes down to is that Democrats are dreaming of the "moderate business types" moving towards them. Remember that the Democrats have promised to raise their taxes, require that they spend a greater portion of their earnings and profits in employee benefits, and exert even greater regulatory control over other aspects of their business. I'm not sure that the ability to hire illegal immigrants at will balances that out.

The immigration issue is real, at least in CD-8. Steve Huffman crouching in the dark with a flashlight should be more than ample evidence to demonstrate that. The Democratic candidates know it too. However, if one of them broke and took a hard stand on illegal immigration, they would be crucified by the loudest factions of their party. They just will ignore it and hope it will go away.

Immigration will cost Dems big in Cochise County, where do you think all those Bill Johnson signatures came from? Dismiss him all you wish, but he gathered a large amount of signatures from registered Dems that likely had one issue on their minds. Where are those people going to go, especially after the party has spit on Johnson?

I beleive that the "party of inclusion" rhetoric and the endzone dance is a bit premature when the Democrats haven't even crossed the 50 yard line.

Kralmajales said...

Good to hear from you Framer,

Good points. I will try to respond.

"Republicans get creamed in the "generic candidate" polls every year."

But not as badly as this year. Gallop polls and those referenced by the Cook Report (a good read by the way) suggest that this might be the worst Republicans have seen it in decades. There is still the benefit of "hate your Congress, love your Congressman" phenom (which appears to be benefiting Kyl so far) but the numbers also seem to show that Demos are jacked up to vote and Republicans (save for social conservatives) are not.

I think the moderates in your party are going to stay at home and that some will crossover...not a mass exodus mind you...but enough to be a problem.

As to the Kos phenomenon and all the attention it is getting. I think it and its effect is overhyped. I heard an amazingly well argued essay in Slate today that noted that the Lamont-Lieberman race was a HUGE outlier. Not on the importance of the war, but on the importance of the blog world and the Kosians. The looked at 8 other races where a anti-war purist liberal faced a moderate (even those voting FOR the war) and none were in striking distance...like with Cantwell in Washington state.

Lamont was important in my mind, but Lieberman was very very different because he not only voted for the war, he defended it, and was quite close to Bush on it. That hurts...and will hurt republicans in the fall...but it won't her moderate Demos in their primaries.

Joel Gaines said...

"If Huffman wins by using hit-piece attacks or push polls the far-right, hard-core might even go as far as voting for the Democrat nominee."

Amen.

Assuming Huffman could win the nod (which he can't)....

You know, this is a possibility - distant, but it exists. If you take a look at the various legislative scorecards out there, you will find that Steve Huffman has voted more liberally than about 1/2 of the Democratic legislators since 2000. Add that to the fact that there is a LOT of special interest money in Huffman's coffers (which is a trend with him - check out project vote smart) and most savvy Republicans will either vote Democrat or opt out.

The Committee said...

I would use caution with the Cook Report. It's analysis is often based primarily on information that comes from incumbent camps. Some is surprisingly out of touch. Certainly they are right that Republicans face a tough year. But the Cook camp is already experiencing some surprises.

Kralmajales said...

On the Cook Report...it did mention Weiss' poll in its analysis but attributed it to name recognition.

I think things look pretty pretty bad for you all right now. BUT the beauty or ugliness of polls is that they are only snapshots in time. Things change, things move, and a campaign...or even a month can be a lifetime.