Friday, June 30, 2006

Huffman's Record on Social Issues

The Committee said...
Here is Steve Huffman's record on social issues in the last legislative session (as per CAP):

Abortion:

Voted No. Abortion; Fetal Pain- HB2254: Requires physicians to inform women at least 20 weeks along in their pregnancy who want an abortion that their baby may
feel pain if they abort it and offer to give the baby anesthesia. Passed the House 36-21 and the Senate 17-13. Vetoed by the Governor.

Did not vote. Notarized Parental Consent for Abortion- HB2666: Modifies the current Arizona parental consent law to require that a parent’s signature be notarized before
a minor may obtain an abortion. Passed the House 39-20. Passed the Senate 18-10. Vetoed by the Governor.

Did not vote. Abortion Parental Consent/ Bypass Guidelines- HB2776: Codifies an appellate court decision that clarifies how a judge decides whether to grant a minor
seeking an abortion a bypass petition, which allows her to get the abortion without parental consent. Passed the House 39-18. Passed Senate 17-12. Vetoed by
the Governor.

Voted No. No Taxpayer Funding for Abortions- SB1325: Clarifies Arizona law to prohibit any government or public entity from providing employee insurance benefits
to cover abortions. Passed Senate 17-12. Passed the House 33-24. Vetoed by the Governor.

Human Egg Donation/Sale

Voted Yes. Sale of Human Oocytes; Prohibition- HB2142: Prohibits the sale of human eggs for research purposes. Passed the House 38-21. Passed Senate 18-11.
Vetoed by the Governor.

Voted No. Informed Consent for Human Egg Donation- SB1097: Requires the woman donating her eggs to be fully informed about the nature, ramifications, and risks of
the procedure. Passed Senate 17-11. Passed House 34-20. Vetoed by the Governor.

Sex Education

Voted Yes. General Appropriations; Budget- HB2863: The state’s general fund budget for fiscal year 2007. Includes increased funding for abstinence education and
marriage skills training, funding for the DHS brochure on cord blood donations, and a grant program for organizations that provide alternatives to abortion.
Passed House 46-9. Passed Senate 22-2. Signed by the Governor.

Adoption/Marriage Preference

Voted No. Adoption/Marriage Preference- HB2696: Establishes a preference for married couples in adoption cases handled through the state, with exceptions granted
for family members and specific other situations. Passed the House 32-25. Failed in the Senate 15-13.

Sex Oriented Businesses

Did not vote. Regulation of Adult Oriented Businesses- HB2490: Prohibits a new adult-oriented business from being built within a quarter mile of a school, church,
playground, child care facility, home, or recreational facility. Passed the House 52-5. Passed the House 52-5. Passed the Senate 28-1. Signed into law by the
Governor.

Gambling

Voted No.Racing; Pari-Mutuel Wagering- SB1329: Expands gambling in Arizona by allowing off-track betting locations to simulcast out-of-state harness races and
providing more opportunities for gambling at horse tracks and off-site locations. Passed the House 32-23. Held in Senate.


It looks like he is still missing alot of votes.

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.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Breaking News (well, OK, rumors)

Just got a couple of tips that may be of interest:

1. Mike Hellon's internal polling seems to indicate that he has overtaken Steve Huffman among likely primary voters. Although he is still trailing Randy Graf, he believes that he is making up ground from previous polls that he has run.

Great, my take on Mike Hellon's campaign survived just over thirty minutes.

It would seem his advertising is paying off. Huffman had better get things in gear, or he may end up with a lot of money and nowhere to spend it.

2. Randy Graf has decided on a new campaign manager. Supposedly, this individual is from outside the campaign, comes highly recommended, has previous campaign experience, and has ties to Washington. Look for the official announcement in the next couple of days.

If the candidate is all that I have been led to believe, it should be a big boost to the Graf campaign.

Keep in mind that although I trust my sources, neither of these tips are official at this point. I hope to get more confirmation soon.


State of the Campaign - Mike Hellon

The Good- The Rolodex. Politics is all about connections and this is Hellon's strong point. Although he missed out on Kolbe's endorsement, he still has a career's worth of contacts and support in local and national party politics. He probably has just as much campaign experience as the rest of his Primary competition combined. He does have some money and is not afraid to use it if his current as blitz is any indication. He would be in a perfect position to benefit should either Huffman or Graf take a fatal hit. He appears to be in a position to continue to raise more money than Graf, and although he trails in fundraising to Huffman, his grassroots are far stronger.

The Bad- He is kind of stuck in the middle with the Kolbe endorsement going to Steve Huffman and the conservative vote currently slotted to Randy Graf. Although he does have a loyal base within the party, it is not translating into the financial windfall that Huffman is seeing. His strong pro-choice views could be a problem in the primary as it automatically keeps a certain percentage of primary voters from voting for him. It also appears that he is a little guilty of "evolving" views, especially where immigration is concerned. This will leave him open to charges of "flip-flopping." The ex-wife professional relationship is a little strange for those not familiar with it.

What Next- In all honesty, Hellon is going to need a little luck in the form of a Graf or Huffman implosion. The good news is that each of these candidates is capable of this to some point. Should this happen, Hellon might jump into the driver's seat as he has the ability to fill whatever void is created, plus hold his own territory. The best case scenario for Hellon would be for Huffman to go negative and attack Graf relentlessly enough to damage him. Any votes that Graf loses would tend to move to Hellon, and Huffman would lose votes as many possible Huffman votes would be turned off by this. The earlier "leak" about Graf's campaign manager may be an indication that this could happen.

Hellon's current ad blitz seems like a good move at this point. The other candidates look to be saving their resources for closer to the primary, which allows Mike to define himself virtually unopposed. He has used this to move to the right policy wise and include himself into the "enforcement first" category without being formally challenged. It also demonstrates that he is still a player despite his current difficult position.

If I were a part of the campaign, I would certainly make is easier to obtain his touted Border Security Plan. It appears that you have to give up your personal information to read it. If he intends to make this a major part of his platform, it should be much more user friendly. As far as the need to create a plan in the first place, there is a current House bill that is much better known. He would be much better off in the Primaries attaching himself to the specifics of this bill than pushing a homemade one. The Sensenbrenner bill would be voted on after he took office, and is entirely relevant to the debate. It would also better even the playing field with Graf who will support the bill as well.

If Hellon is able to gather enough funding to remain in the race, the debate will certainly be the better for it.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Slow News Day

Sorry I haven't reported in a while. I am actually "efforting" some leads and hope to have some original interviews and news going up shortly.

In the meantime, however, I intend to solve the internal Democratic spat that has spilled over into just about every corner of the Southern Arizona Political Blogosphere. Seeing as I cannot hope to have a in-depth grasp on the issues important to the liberal end of the spectrum in comparison to those visiting my site, I had to find a way to get a direct answer, free of any campaigning or outside persuasion. This has the added bonus of being able to determine actual candidate intent, which is sometimes not possible to do before election day. Time to consult the Oracle.

My first thought was be to use the trusty magic eight ball. However, fate kept giving me the "ask again later," which got me nowhere.

So I turned to Numerology. Using the URL of each candidates campaign web site, I was able to break down the text of each site into corresponding numbers using a handy generator. The resulting numeric patterns then clued me in to the soul of each candidate. Here are the results:

Francine Shacter-- 63% evil, 37% good
Gabrielle Giffords-- 32% evil, 68% good
Jeff Latas-- 29% evil, 63% good
Alex Rodriguez -- 25% evil, 75% good
Patty Weiss-- 1% evil, 99% good

So, overall, the Democrats are fielding a pretty benevolent group for the primary with the exception of the slightly twisted Francine Shacter (who knew?).

So based on this, the official ArizonaEighth Numerology Endorsement for the Democratic Primary goes to Patty Weiss as the most "good" candidate.

--I promise to have some more serious posting soon.

Friday, June 23, 2006

The New Weiss Poll

It looks like Patty Wiess has released one of her polls. It also appears that many of the other blog sites have had quite a stir over the results. It should be fun to analyze this poll without necessarily having a favorite on that side of the race. Here are the points I'd bring up.

1. The sample size looks low to me, and this seems to show with some of the results. I cannot believe that Jeff Latas is actually only pulling down 7% of the vote in the poll (So I won't). This would be a big signal to me that the poll may have internal inconsistencies. As I mentioned before, polls are certainly fallible, and this should be a big red flag. The only way I can see this happening is if independents were oversampled or the poll were not conducted over the entire district (I'd lean toward the poll having limited geographic reach). Certainly a gander of the demographics of respondents would help clear this up.

2. I'm also very suspicious of a poll where much of the information and methodology is redacted. It smells of trying to hide something. Patty paid for the poll, so she can release what she wants to, but it certainly seems fishy. Hopefully she will release more at a later date.

3. There are a few positives in this poll for Patty. Her strong support (the people who are actually going to show up to vote) stands at 23%, which if this poll is accurate (a huge IF) it means that adding a good 17% should be enough to nail down the nomination. She has 9% of that needed percentage leaning her way which would leave her needing to gather about one third of the complete undecideds, which is certainly doable. Gabby would need to gather more than half of the current undecideds and keep her leaners. This may be even more difficult as I believe that an underpolled Latas cuts more into available Gabby voters than Patty voters.

Obviously her name recognition is still pretty high, but the favorability is a wash as a 4% unfavorability is actually quite a good thing for Giffords.

4. There are a few good things for Giffords in this poll as well. I already mentioned the almost total lack of antipathy for Giffords (all of the Republicans are much more polarizing within their own party with the possible exception of Frank Antenori.) Also, her commiteds form a greater percentage of her entire support, which may show that Weiss's support is pretty shallow and built on name recognition alone (at least more so than Gabby.) Finally, I would still think that name recognition alone should be worth more than a 10% lead at this point. Weiss will need to start campaigning in Earnest to stave Giffords off.

5. The biggest and perhaps ONLY thing that can be concluded from this poll is that Patty has dropped her "Only Patty can beat the Republicans" line for any recent polling. I cannot believe that she has not polled for this since January (I would confidently bet that she has). Either her results (that she is hiding) are showing that Gabby can also beat the Republican (unlikely if only 40% of Democrats know who Giffords is), or that Patty has fallen behind the possible Republican candidate (a lot has changed since the poll was taken in January, with the Republicans on a slight upsurge.) The dog that is not barking is perhaps the most interesting and useful thing to be gathered from this memorandum.

But as I mentioned, I don't truly trust polls.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

More on Polling

A couple of weeks ago I was looking forward to a poll to be released. In retrospect, I may need to take that back. Let me offer a lengthy explanation.

It is my personal belief that no one should be allowed to gush over any poll result, unless they have spent a serious amount of time actually administering a poll. I don't mean writing the questions or commissioning the poll, but actually calling people on the phone to get their opinion. I had the misfortune of doing this for a temporary job while doing more serious career hunting and it really opened my eyes.

I discovered that the people that will: 1. See your number on caller ID and pick up the phone. 2. Will take the time to listen to your questions, and 3. Answer you honestly in a thoughtful manner, are simply not an indicative sampling of society as a whole. I believe this would have gotten worse since I did polling and not better. If you look at the past political polling for the last few national elections it has really been all over the place and is only truly useful in showing candidates with a big lead as eventual victors. I would submit that those polling places that came close to the actual results were more lucky than good. If I remember correctly, Rassmussen who was the hero of 2004 was a goat in 2000, and vice versa for Zogby. Now did each of them drastically change the way they polled? Probably not. And don't even get me started about the exit polling in 2004 (and I don't want to hear "Diebold," either.)

Truth is, polling national contests should be a lot more accurate as there are recognizable names and a lot larger sample generally. Now imaging polling for the Arizona Eighth race. You have a smaller population base to sample from, will want to poll people who are likely primary voters, they will need to identify what party they belong to and are eligible to vote for, and must actually be contacted and agree to be polled.

There are about a dozen candidates to track, at varying degrees of name recognition and no incumbent. So it should be no problem accurately predicting the support of each candidate both in the primary and in the general 12 weeks out, right?. I'm certainly glad I am not administering that poll.

And unless one or two candidates are simply blowing the others away, I am not sure that I am going to trust much of what comes out in a poll at this point. I would argue that the signature collections for filing would be more accurate, and I don't really trust them for a benchmark either.

What this means is that we are going to experience one of the most interesting political horse races possible, probably the most interesting we will see in this district in decades. It is good to be in the blog/pundit business with something such as this taking place.

P.S. I will still be happy when a poll comes out.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

New Guest Blogger

As I mentioned before, I intend to pull a number of individuals from different points of view into this site to ensure a greater coverage of events and candidates, as well as guarantee constantly updated content. To my great satisfaction, Joel Gaines has accepted my invitation as a guest blogger to the site.

Joel is a long time blogger and owner-operator of the No Pundit Intended blog site. This is a pretty good pickup for us, and we would like to welcome Joel aboard.

We are looking for more guest bloggers. An ideal candidate need not have previous blogging experience, although it would certainly help. You also do not need to hide your political leanings, in fact I am especially looking for some independent or 'gasp' liberal posters. All I would ask is that we keep the snark to a minimum (although it would not be completely outlawed) and post solid factual information or somewhat stunning insights to all degrees of the race (or give it your best shot).

If you are interested, or would like to recommend someone, please post in the comments section or email me at arizonaeighth@yahoo.com

special note- Because of a previous commitment (my son's second birthday party,) I will not be able to attend the Bisbee Candidate Forum if anyone else is attending, please let me know and we will set you up as a correspondent. Thanks.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Steve Huffman - The Issues Part I

The place I choose to begin my research about a candidate, who has already served in public office, is at Project Vote Smart. Typically, I use this as a starting point, but there is usually enough information here to make that binary decision that becomes your vote - Yes or No?

To me, how someone voted in office says a lot about how they will vote in the future. Let's look at some information regarding Steve Huffman's endorsements and voting record and you can make your own determination.

In 2005, the Arizona Right to Life organization determined that Mr. Huffman voted in support of their agenda 33% of the time. This constitutes a rather negative rating if you are interested in a "pro-life" candidate. On the other hand, Mr. Huffman was given a 100% rating by Planned Parenthood in 2004. This indicates Mr Huffman has always voted in favor of the abortion agenda when those issues came before him. Planned Parenthood of Central and Northern Arizona even endorsed Mr. Huffman.

Mr. Huffman has a 55% grade with the Arizona Federation of Taxpayers, but has improved his stature with the Arizona National Federation of Independent Business over the past few years. He was endorsed by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce in past elections.

Mr. Huffman's gun rights votes are all over the place - frankly. The NRA tends to support him, but the Arizona State Rifle and Pistol Association only gave him a grade of 42% in 2004.

In order that this doesn't turn into a novel (and it is getting late), we'll pick up with more on Mr. Huffman, and with all the other candidates, later.

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.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

State of the Campaign - Randy Graf

Over the next couple of weeks, I hope to add a post describing the state of the campaign for each of the contestants. I hope to also add a post for all of the Democratic challengers as well. I had hoped to start with the lesser known candidates and move on to the front runners, however, due to the breaking news I should probably start with Randy Graf.

The Bad- Generally, I would have started with the Good, but in this case I'll reverse the two. The firing of campaign manager, Steve Aiken is a pretty huge setback to a campaign that was just gaining steam. It gives something for the other candidates to natter about that does not play into Randy's strengths, and takes him off message for at least the next few weeks. The other difficult part is that Aiken has a weekly radio show. This will force more discussion on the issue and will not allow him to fade into the background. Additionally, Graf is falling behind in campaign financing and this is unlikely to help in that area. Finally, the Tom Tancredo's Team America PAC is stirring up quite a bit of controversy while locked in a nasty squabble with other Republican Representatives. Some of the blowback of this may be linked to Randy.

The Good- There is really no good that can be made of this affair, but it could have been a lot worse. This was released relatively early in the campaign cycle, before a lot of people are paying attention. Had this happened weeks or days before the primary, the overall impact would be a lot larger. Also, it appears that the opposition researchers have been looking into Graf and managed to get his campaign manager instead. This more than likely means that they were unable to find much that was of use against Graf. A campaign manager is not the candidate, and there is plenty of time to repair the damage and regain momentum.

Aside from this scandal, is the fact that it is looking less and less likely that an immigration bill will be returned from committee before the election in November. This is good for Randy because if a completed bill, good or bad, was passed, it would have lessened the urgency of the issue. Now Graf has specific bills to run for or against and can place the actual text of the House and Senate Bills before the other candidates to differentiate their views.

More good news is that Graf seems to have turned in the most signatures for the GOP candidates, possibly demonstrating the strength of his grassroots. This is especially in comparison to Steve Huffman who looks like he just got enough to get by, as he was far outpaced by Mike Jenkins. If Randy Graf can hold onto those who voted for him in the primary two years ago, he should be in relatively good shape for the Primary.

What's Next ?- Graf needs to appoint a new campaign manager, preferably an upgrade over Aiken in experience and stature. If this happens, the whole effect of the Steve Aiken mess could be a net positive. It could also help in fundraising efforts where it appeared that Aiken was falling behind. Randy has sufficient grassroots, he just needs to solidify his financials, especially for a possible general election run and a change of leadership could really help.

Additionally, Graf needs to stay on message and use the Senate Immigration Bill as his sounding board. The House is the only thing standing between that bill and passage, and he needs to make the people of the district understand that replacing Kolbe with Graf would go a long way to keeping the Senate bill in check. Randy also needs to be careful about not letting Tancredo or members of his PAC define him. He needs to "be his own man" in this regard. Finding something (even small) to disagree with Tancredo and Co. on might be a help.

Finally, now is the time to rally his base. Randy Graf street signs becoming prominent would certainly help to show strength and put the last couple of days behind him.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

The Press is finally coming around

It seems like the Business Journal of Phoenix is finally taking a serious look at this election. Obviously, immigration will be the overriding issue.

Hopefullyother media outlets will soon follow.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

CA 50 Observations

The results of the Special election from CA 50 are in. and appear to be very vanilla indeed. It wasn't the groundswell of GOP rejection that the Democrats were hoping for, nor is it the redeeming beatdown Republicans were hoping for either. Indeed, it is almost frustrating that not a lot of overall trend information could be gleaned at all.

There are, however, some things that can be surmised, at least in part by the results here:

1. The "Culture of Corruption" as a cudgel for Democrats is a non-starter, especially if there is no proof that the candidate has any ethics issues. If the simple "R" behind the name was supposed to be guilt by association, it would have shown up here, with the conviction of the previous Republican Representative. It didn't. Democrats would be unwise to continue spending money on this strategy.

2. Based on no other mitigating factor, the breakdown of the vote between Bush and Kerry is a good starting point when trying to decide a party's chances to take an open seat in a district. Busby failed to place much over Kerry's totals in either the primary, or this special election. This would seem to indicate that those who voted for Bush, are not quite ready to move Democratic, all things being equal. This would seem to be a good omen for the GOP in AZ 8. A lot has been said about how conservative CA 50 is. It's pro-Bush vote was only slightly higher than AZ 8. There are a lot of similarities between the two districts.

3. Immigration is important. The major focus of Bilbray's campaign was attempting to show his credentials as a hard-line anti-illegal immigration candidate. The words "comprehensive plan" nor "guest worker program" do not appear on his official site. Ironically, he lost 4% more of the vote to a Minuteman-endorsed Independent. There is not a whole lot of difference between the views espoused by Bibray and Randy Graff except that Randy Graf will get the Minuteman endorsement. It is possible to win convincingly with a straight "enforcement first" policy.


Saturday, June 03, 2006

Conventional Wisdom

In looking at the national election sites, it appears that the conventional wisdom is that the Arizona Eighth District is a toss-up or leans GOP unless Randy Graf wins the primaries, then the seat dramatically favors the Democrats. The only basis I can see for this reasoning is the ill-advised quotes that have been given by Jim Kolbe.

For all of the service given by Kolbe, his attacks on Graf have been classless and make him look bitter and defeated on his way out. Sure, Kolbe had a hard fought primary with Graf, but that was when Kolbe was a candidate. Does anyone think that if a rematch were held this year that Graf wouldn't have gained ground or even overtaken Kolbe based on the current political climate? Kolbe's words and actions make it appear that he has considered it.

Now as to the actual conventional wisdom, here are the points that should be considered:

1. This is an open seat. This fact alone makes it competitive compared to most other House races. Incumbent retention in the house is somewhere above 95%. Just about all of the "battleground" races need to be open seats. This also explains the sheer number of candidates that are running from both parties. An open house seat in your district may be a once in a lifetime shot.

2. George Bush only got 53% of the vote in 2004, while Kolbe was closer to 60%. This has been used to show that District 8 prefers a moderate like Kolbe. What it really shows is that a Conservative candidate needs to hold on to those who voted for Bush last year. This district was still more pro-Bush than the nation as a whole. Bush won by sprinting to the right, not to the center. It can be argued that GOP voters will not turn out like they did last election for Bush, but the same logic applies for those who showed up to vote against Bush now that he is no longer on the ballot. The names of Randy Graf and Steve Huffman do not conjure up such a nice boogeyman as George Bush. Midterm elections almost always have low turnout compared to Presidential years. This year will be no different.

3. The Arizona Eighth District solidly backed Proposition 200. Support for this measure outstripped support for President Bush during the 2004 election. If anything, the underlying current that led to this result has grown in the past two years. This is what is so puzzling about the "extremist" charge often leveled at Randy Graf. He was one of the major backers of the Bill that was and continues to be a great success (ask the Governor if the people didn't really care to see it implemented). The reality of it is that if you cannot show support for enforcing immigration law at least at the level of proposition 200, you will not be able to compete, especially in the GOP Primary. This is not a question that a candidate will be able to duck by giving platitudes either ("Of course I am for enforcing the border, but this need to be a part of a comprehensive plan") The voters will demand specifics dealing with enforcement and each candidate better have them. If the other candidates want to compete, they had better be getting some lessons in "extremism" for themselves.

4. Fundraising is always key. Obviously, fundraising will play a huge factor. However, with the amount of candidates running in each primary, the total amount raised could be less important depending upon a number of factors.

Name recognition- A large part of a candidate's funds will be spent just trying to let the electorate know that they exist. This is what makes the Patty Weis entrance such a good move for her. She has name recognition that couldn't be bought for several hundred thousand dollars. The fact that Randy Graf is so often brought up by his competitors is a net overall plus as well. Even if a candidate is giving an unfavorable view of Graf's policies, Graf becomes just that more well known to the electorate.

How the Money is spent- It is important not to spend your money too soon before people are paying attention. It can be costly, however to wait too long to get your message out as well. As most of the candidates are running for so large an office for the first time, many will make mistakes when it comes to spending.

Grassroots- Money cannot really buy grassroots support. These are the true believers that will do most of the actual work of a campaign. You can hire people to man phone banks, but it just isn't the same as having someone who is truly sold on the candidate walking door to door and speaking to their friends and families. The large primaries will break up some of the unified support that often goes to a party favorite in a lightly contested election. A die-hard supporter of Mike Hellon is probably unlikely to become a die-hard supporter of Steve Huffman the day after the primaries. He may vote for Huffman, but the level of support will not be the same. Therefore a candidate must connect at the grassroots and not simply depend upon buying Media time.

Can we get a poll please?

It is very interesting that there has not been a poll released for general public consumption regarding this race, especially considering the overall national attention over this open seat. Indeed, Jim Kolbe seems to have access to polls no one else has seen, but the utter lack of polling in this race makes little sense.

The only possible reason I can think of is that the name recognition outside of Randy Graf and Patty Weis is so dismal that accurate polling is not possible. I mean everybody knows the difference between Mike Huffman and Steve Hellon. What could the problem be?

Mike Hellon seems to realize this and is placing ads on talk radio to reintroduce himself to the public. If Steve Huffman thinks that he does not need to do the same, he is kidding himself. More local residents probably know who took third place in "Dancing with the Stars" than are clued in to who was endorsed by Jim Kolbe.