Monday, July 31, 2006

Pollster Call

I got a call from a pollster. Generally I turn them down, because, for some reason I think I have a conflict of interest. In retrospect, I do not think that anyone has any duty to respect the sanctity of the polls, since many of the pollsters themselves do not. However, since this was about the state house race, I took the survey because I do not blog about the state races.

There were a couple of interesting questions outside of the "do you know z, do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of them?"

First, among the candidates, they asked if I knew Steve Huffman, but did not include any of the other congressional candidates. Even more interesting because from the "hypothetical" questions asked, this was obviously a Hershberger poll. In retrospect, however, many of the questions asked were easily transferable to Huffman as well, so I would not be surprised if he was helping to fund the poll as hired polls are usually pretty expensive for state house candidates.

Based on the questions asked, it appears that that Hershberger and perhaps Huffman intend to use education and transportation spending to deflect the immigration issue. The passive aggressive way the questions were formulated almost made me feel like someone who keeps trying to ask the same question a different way in trying to fish for a different answer outside of illegal immigration being the number one issue.

Obviously, I was a sample size of one, but I would infer from the questioning that past polling has shown the immigration issue to be huge, at least for Republican primary voters.

Additionally, I was asked about my religiosity and views on abortion as well. Not sure what to make of that.

Saturday, July 29, 2006


I was on vacation for a while. While I was away everything took on a different perspective. I went completely out of activist mode and into casual observer mode. It was kind of nice - they say ignorance is bliss and I believe it. With my uncut hair, occasionally unshaven face, and an afternoon mojito or two I understood how many people spend their lives unconcerned about world events or political battles. It kind of put things in perspective for me.

I realize now that most Americans just don't have time to care. They wonder at how bloggers are able to lead a "normal life" and keep up with, let alone write about, everything that goes on. Perhaps they assume too much. Perhaps we don't lead the same "normal life" they do. Perhaps blogging is our escape from such mundane trappings. Who knows? I will leave that to the head shrinkers.

Whatever the answer, the fact is most bloggers worth their salt are highly informed about what goes on around us. It makes for interesting conversations in places such as RV campgrounds around the country - especially for a guy like me, who enjoys being "authoritative" on issues I cover. While I don't mean to dominate conversations, I do like to collect perspectives and share my own.

Another perspective I found during my travels was willful ignorance by a lot of people. They just don't "want" to know what's going on - in many cases it is far to depressing to them. If they ignore it, it might not go away but it certainly can't hurt them. I think that is a great attitude to have on vacation and I adopted it on about day 5.

However, I am back in the saddle and ready to ride for my brand. Today it seems the brand is either the Lazy R or the Split R - depending on which news outlet you consume. I don't see things so badly though.

I preface what follows by saying, I view the world through partisan glasses. I won't even pretend to present an objective viewpoint.

Despite what the MSM would like, it is not 1912 all over again. You see, Republicans are again learning to grouse about things which displease them. The silent majority is learning that to be silent is to not have your views heard. Conservatives are not splitting with the party, they are going to change it from the inside, since too many Republicans are little more than RINOs.

Unlike the Democrats, who have been hijacked by ultra-liberals, the Republican party is on a swing of conservatism. Even those who grouse about the turn to the right will recognize something very important in the voting booth. No vote for a left leaning candidate is representative of the core values of the republican party.

In the voting booth, the decision is binary - Yes or No.

Regardless of all the minutae and ad chatter, the important questions are:

1) Smaller, more focused government?
2) National defense?
3) Border control?
4) Clean, honorable campaign?
5) Straight-forward voting record?

If you answer yes to these 5 questions, your answer is always going to be the conservative candidate. It's as simple as that.

Some folks say that the "middle-of-the-road" or "moderate" candidate is the safe bet. Balderdash!

The only thing you find in the middle of the road is yellow stripes and roadkill. If your candidate is not strong in his/her beliefs - right or left - what kind of moral or political courage will s/he display when it comes time to cast a vote in office?

Friday, July 21, 2006

Further Poll breakdown

Just got more information regarding the poll my colleague referred to and found a very interesting tidbit.

In a poll of likely voters, 56% of respondents said that the next Representative from CD8 should be at least as conservative or more conservative than Jim Kolbe. Only 36% said that the next Representative should be more liberal.

I will try to hunt down the internals, actual questions, and the firm responsible for the polling.

I'm not ready to mint this as gospel due to my already heavy distrust of polls, but if this is legit it is pretty huge news. It would mean that the Republicans are in pretty good shape and that the Democrats being pulled to the left for the Primary could be in dangerous territory. It would also confirm that the district is still status quo ante from the 2002 elections.

McCain Immigration Bill Update 2

Here is the least interesting part of the Bill, but to make sure that it gets the analysis it deserves:

Section 121

Requires the Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security to coordinate with federal, state, local and tribal authorities to set aside areas of responsibility with regard to border security. Transfer of authority and coordination between the different jurisdictions are also to be laid out. The secretary is to report to the different senate committees one year after the plan is implemented.
Section 122

Directs the Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security to create a commission to advise him on border security issues made up of community officials, local law enforcement representatives from the border states,.as well as other interested parties.

Section 123

Authorizes and Requires the Secretary to use existing and new aerial surveillance technologies and to put them in place on the border, both manned and the unmanned drones. The Secretary is to coordinate with the Secretary of Defense and the Director of the FAA to guarantee the safety and correct use of the technology. The plan must begin to be implemented 60 days after the Bill is passed and the Secretary of DHS will report on the implementation one year after that.

Section 124

This Section calls for the Secretary of DHS to coordinate between the FBI, Customs Enforcement, and the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection to develop a plan to combat Human Smuggling. The plan is to focus on data interoperability, training, methods and training between the departments. A special focus is to be placed upon International Money Laundering, and the effective utilization of visas for victims of trafficking. Secretary can meet with the Secretary of State to include other countries in the effort to gather more information about these practices. Again the Secretary will report one year from the time of implementation.

Section 125

Savings clause. Subsections A and B do not grant, nor can they be construed to grant any additional authority to enforce illegal immigration laws to State or Local authorities.


121 is very important, although I would hope that this is already being worked on outside this Bill. The next section forms another dreaded “Blue Ribbon Commission” that can often take serious matters and add a great degree of politicization. I especially dislike the “other interested parties” which will include MEChA, the ACLU, Joe Biden, and any number of unserious attention seekers that will distract from the overall effectiveness of securing the border. I’m not a big fan of the advising committee.

Sections 123 and 124 are good, but I see no specific call for punishment of human smuggling, just a call for “preventing.” You cannot stop smuggling without sanctions. Seeing as all that is essential calle dfor is the formation of several plans, I do not see how the Savings clause is truly necessary in this case, but I and far from a qualified legal scholar.

Next update, we will start to delve into the more controversial parts of the Bill.

Technical Notice

Due to a recent spate of SPAM messages, I have had to add word verification to the comments section. Please make sure that you scroll down in the comments section when adding a comment and type in the pictured word.

I apologize for the need to do this as I preferred to make it as easy to post as possible.

Now which one of the CD-8 candidates is going to propose a bill calling for capitol punishment for serial spammers? That is an issue that could unite voters.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Steve Huffman Ad

Steve has posted his current television ad Here is my review:

First, it is good to see Steve finally become engaged with the race, he has a lot of ground to make up, and he needs to get started if he wishes to compete.

The ad is professional quality and looks like he has spent some money in production, however I believe that it has quite a few flaws that will need to be fixed in future ads.

1. The ad is too rushed. Steve has plenty of money to spend, slow down a little and allow what is being said to sink in. The ad does not need to be an infomercial, but at the same time, allow a follow up sentence after the bullet points. Get half of your issues with this ad, then get the rest with the next ad. The pace is further hurried by the constant cutshots and camera refocuses. Leave the fancy camera work to "24," slow down, and interact with the audience. There are even a quite a number of triple split screen shots that last less than two seconds. This is strictly production vanity and doesn't add to the overall feel of the ad.

2. The so-called "voice of God" is way overused. Let Steve speak. Part of Steve's perceived weakness is that he is too aloof. He needs to bring down that wall a bit and properly introduce himself.

3. The Kolbe quote is blurbed, but you would have to be looking for it beforehand to see who it came from. Identify the source of the quote, and if you can, film Kolbe saying it. The endorsement is pretty big for Steve, yet it felt like part of a list of things that had to be included in the time allowed.

4. Finally Steve needs to have the word "Republican" added somewhere in the spoken dialogue, perhaps multiple times. The only mention of Steve as a Republican that I saw was the quick corner banner at the very end of the ad.

Overall this is not a very strong ad and is unlikely to generate the results that he is looking for. A more personal ad with Steve speaking or with perhaps Kolbe introducing him saying "This is Steve Huffman, and this is why I am recommending him for my job. . ." would have been a far better initial ad.

The good news is that Steve has more time and money to keep the ads coming, and that he resisted the urge to go negative right out of the gate. I just hope that he didn't tie up to much money with this initial effort.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

McCain Kennedy Immigration Bill

I just can't get into the browser refresh game waiting for Steve Huffman's quarterly numbers so I am going to begin my possibly disastrous foray into the current immigration bills. I found a good translation into lawyerese which I speak better than Bureaucrat. I rework this summary a few sections at a time and any applicable comments. This should be an ongoing project.

Here we go, stripping out the preamble:

Section 112

This section directs The Department of Homeland Security to make a plan to defend the borders of the United States. The plan must include:

1. A detailed analysis of the available ports and points of entry into the United States

2. A design that implements the newest and most appropriate equipment and technology, personnel, and training in order to address the most important threat points in a cost effective manner.

3. A prioritization of risks as well as timelines and deadlines for implementation of needed security.

4. Coordination at the local, state, regional, local, and tribal levels for security and border enforcement.

5. A prioritization of research and development into needed advances to enhance border security.

6. An update of the 2001 Port of Entry Infrastructure Assessment study that was conducted by the Service formally known as US Customs.

7. Further plans of cooperation between Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

8. Cooperation with the overseas personnel of the State Department and Homeland Security to end human smuggling and trafficking.

9. License for the Secretary of Homeland Security to include other plans or reports that he or she feels necessary

10. The identification of low risk travelers and the better facilitation thereof

11. The ability to ensure that enforcing security does not interfere with U.S. trade and Commerce.

Section 112

Within one year after the bill is passed, the above plan must be given to then needed senatorial committees for review. Revisions must be submitted every two years thereafter. A review of progress must be submitted each year as well, as well as an introspective “what can we do better?”

Section 113

Authorization to put forth money toward implementing the plan, beginning the next fiscal year.

Reaction- My initial thought is that if this isn't finished or well underway already, what are we paying the good folks at Homeland Security for at this moment? Every one of these points better already be an action item on somebody's desk prior to this bill being voted on or even considered. I mean, are we just now asking for an update of the Port of Entry Infrastructure Assessment study that was done BEFORE 9/11? Has legislation already not been passed regarding these points?

In retrospect, I would have to believe that these points are not original considerations to this bill and are indeed already in the hopper. This being the case, shouldn't the "Plan" be given a shorter target date or the existing provisions of the plan be discussed in the actual bill? The inclusion of these three sections in the bill are important only in the reporting and spending aspects, which should already be in the Homeland Security budget and duties regardless of this Immigration bill. This appears to be the restating of other legislation to even out the "enforcement" ledger column of this bill.

Oh, and doesn't point 10 look a lot like "profiling?"

Up Next? The thrilling Subtitle B

Monday, July 17, 2006

Rupublicans and Illegal Immigration in the Star

Blake Morlock has released a new article in the star outlining the differences of the Republican candidates' platforms on the issue. It is a timely, and interesting read.

The opening of the article is very good, highlighting the difference of opinion that the party is experiencing and then pulling out a very good story by Mike Hellon concerning his live campaign findings and how he has adjusted based on his feedback.

Then he gets very sloppy. He mentions the House bill that was recently passed and when mentioning the specifics, he can only manage, "The bill has a provision that would make illegal immigrants felons." This may indeed be the case, but it is not indicative of the entire bill and would have likely been the first chip given in a senate compromise bill. His remark would lead me to believe that he not read or even really examined the bill.

He does mention the Senate bill as "including a temporary guest worker program that would provide a path to citizenship for those here illegally." Again, this is a very simplistic formulation of the this plan and does not address the concrete differences between the two bills. There are far more elements of this bill that will be part of the election calculus, especially in this district.

Then there is this sentence "Immigration turns matrimonial bliss into a case of spousal abuse. The angry word is amnesty." Bad analogy, and even worse writing. If it is nasty conflict he is looking for, maybe he should check out the campaign finance showdown the Democrats are having. Wait, that's right, he already did and dismissed it. There has been far more heat locally on this issue than on the GOP side with illegal immigration, and more use for his strange domestic violence comparisons.

Then the article gets better. The pattern is that when Morlock sticks to the candidates and omits his own interjections and "research" he does fine.

However then we hit

The GOP's polling suggests the larger electorate is more amenable to a more forgiving policy.

Its poll found 25 percent of respondents were more likely to vote for an enforcement-only candidate and 71 percent favored a broader approach that included guest worker status.
Also, the poll showed that 70 percent of voters believe illegal immigrants who put down roots should be granted legal status if they go to the back of the line, pay a fine, pay back taxes, learn English and have a clean criminal record.

What poll was this? Was it national or local and when was it taken? These are details that are needed if you are going to introduce poll results, at least if you are not an anonymous blogger :). My favorite poll on the issue is that every Senator up for re-election (including Democrats I believe) save one voted for against the McCain-Kennedy bill. The national poll numbers they were seeing must not have matched the results of this poll.

I would suspect that local poll numbers would be quite different and be an interesting story if some news organization really wanted to be a news leader (cough, cough. . .)

I do have to commend Mr. Morlock for taking the time to write the story, the quotes from the candidates were excellent at the least. The main disappointment is that the difference between the House and Senate bills IS the story and pretty much defines the candidate differences. I don't like to wander much outside my District 8 playpen, but I'll see if I can fill in those gaps in an upcoming article.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

More Rumors

Finally something to report in advance of the fundraising numbers. These are rumors probably on the Drudge level of "grain of salt." I would definitely place them higher than a story on the believability scale however.

1. Apparently one of the GOP candidates has a poll of district Republicans showing that 80% of those polled support building a fence on the border, and 90% support controlling the border before discussing what to do with the illegal immigrants already here.

2. Another internal poll a gave 30% of the likely GOP primary vote to Graf, 12% to Hellon, and 4% to Huffman. A lot of undecideds out there.

3. Look for the Huffman advertising blitz to begin on Tuesday.

The Importance of the Kolbe Endorsement

Really intersesting article from "The Hill" concerning the importance of incumbant endorsements featuring our own Jim Kolbe.

The most interesting part of the article is the quotes from Margeret Kenski, Kolbe's former pollster. From the article:

Kolbe makes no secret of his disagreements with Graf, who took 43 percent of votes in their 2004 primary and who Kolbe said is too conservative for the district. Kolbe said that he and Graf are not friends and that Graf did not seek his endorsement but that there is no animosity between the two either.

But that 2004 primary challenge shows that Kolbe’s endorsement might not have the intended result, said his former pollster, Margaret Kenski.

Kolbe is the least popular incumbent of the four, garnering 60 percent of the vote in the last general election. Kenski said strong intraparty opposition shows that any help Kolbe’s endorsement could provide might be offset by the galvanizing effect it has on his detractors.

“A lot of people really like him, but a lot of people don’t,” Kenski said.

“The people who are more intense are the Graf people — the 43 percent who don’t like Kolbe. It seems to me that would have a negative impact.”

Also, quoting Kolbe:

“I do know that there were a number of people that told me, particularly people active in the fundraising side of things, that they were waiting for me to make some endorsement before they got involved,” Kolbe said. “So I thought it was important for that reason, as well as just simply making a statement that I thought this is the person best qualified to hold the office.”

This has been demonstrated in Huffman's initial fundraising numbers. However, does the endorsement translate into grassroots success? So far it appears that it hasn't.

I just wish that some of our local papers cared enough about this election to produce articles such as this.

Monday, July 10, 2006

State of the Campaign - Mike Jenkins

The Good- I have listened to Mike on a couple of his radio appearances and he sounds informed, and is very personable and comfortable talking about the issues. I was especially impressed with the conviction with which he handled local issues, notably law enforcement and education. This was in marked contrast with what I saw at the first candidate forum where he looked a little nervous (which is perfectly understandable.) Mike as a candidate also tells a good story, from his home-grown business background to his military service. It appears that he also has a network of veterans that back him. The amount of signatures he turned in at the deadline was quite impressive showing that he knows how to use his contacts and existing grassroots effectively.

The Bad- Mike has no campaign money or name recognition to compete at this juncture. His campaign also lacks a minimum amount of polish that the other campaigns have achieved so far. This goes for little things like the quality of his website (typos, suspect image quality, lack of online forms) to his initial performance in the candidate forum. Frankly, Mike looked uncomfortable in a situation where he needed to stand out above the other candidates. This is in direct contrast to the performances that I have heard on the radio.

What's Next- I would recommend that Mike stay in the campaign as long as he can afford to. This would certainly give him more experience at what it takes to campaign and will give him higher visibility than what he could achieve otherwise. However, in contrast to what I wrote about Frank Antenori, I would recommend that Jenkins use this experience and recognition to run for state office. From what I heard him discuss, I like Mike's possible contributions on a local level, and it does not appear that a state legislator's salary would be too much of a problem for him at this point.

A state run would help Mike gather the skills and people necessary for a possible congressional run at a later date if that is what he desired. I truly think however that he would have a better chance of impacting his pet issue of education at this level. There are going to be four individuals that come up short in the GOP primary, and not all of them will have the opportunity Mike Jenkins does to grow and to leverage run into something else later on.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

State of the Campaign - Frank Antenori

The Bad- Frank just simply isn't going to win this go-around. He doesn't have the money, he doesn't have the grassroots, and there is way too much noise in a five person primary to make this up through word of mouth. If he could simply be the anti-Huffman or the Anti-Graf, he could possibly move ahead faster, but there are more experienced candidates with more money and name recognition to fill these roles.

The Good- I believe that Frank has a future. It has been suggested in the comments thread of another topic that Frank needs to participate in local elective office before having a chance at the national nod. I do not believe that to be the case. Although his chances this cycle are almost non-existent, he has put himself in a great position two years from now.

With a loss in the Primaries, either Steve Huffman or Randy Graf are done. With the money advantage Huffman has, a loss would dry up these funds for the next election. It will have been shown that Steve has deficiencies that money cannot fix. If Graf loses, he will have come up short twice. No candidates in the modern era are allowed a third chance without becoming a punchline. Three hard fought runs in six years is way too much for a non-incumbent to take from an emotional and family level as well.

Now the same will probably apply to either candidate if they lose in the general as well. It would be hard to throw the losing candidate into a rematch with someone they couldn't beat as a non-incumbent.

This also assumes a third place finish by Mike Hellon, which is by no means a given. Should he finish in third, it is doubtful that he would be attractive for, or even want to make a second run.

If a Democrat wins in 2006, Frank then becomes the name recognition front runner for the 2008 nomination. Barring the entry of a "celebrity" candidate like Jim Click or a local Tucson news reporter, Frank would certainly have more initial backing than a state legislator.

It is also a given that national security will be even a bigger issue in 2008 with Iran and North Korea coming to the forefront. With a small stage and a larger microphone his positives will have more of a chance to stand out.

What's Next- Keep on doing what he has been doing. Make appearances wherever he can at whatever venue avails itself. Make people think, "If I wasn't supporting my candidate, I would support Frank." This will not only build name recognition, but should also sell more copies of his book, which is also helpful. A surprising showing in the Primaries would be an added bonus, but isn't necessarily needed for his future success.

From what I have seen Frank's team is very adept at promoting him. He needs to keep this team together.

Frank needs to parlay his book success to an "expert" status in the local and national media. This will assure more recognition and help build his future campaign narrative. Finally, a "Frank Blog" where he analyses ongoing military and foreign policy issues would certainly be a boon to his credentials, help him further demonstrate that his past experience is relevant to today's issues. It would also be damn interesting, from a purely selfish point of view.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Frank, on Air America.

Keep a sharp eye out for an appearance by Frank Antenori on Air America on July 3rd:

Frank Antenori will appear on Air America Radio…on The Thom Hartmann Program at 10:00AM MST. Frank will be promoting his book “"Roughneck Nine-One”," talking about the War in Iraq, and discussing current events with the host. Tune in or listen on the web. Frank will be on for 15 minutes or possibly longer.

Air America can be heard on KPHX-AM 1480 AM in Phoenix or you can Listen Online

You have to hand it to Frank for going into an even more hostile environment than the Wilcox forum. It is good for Frank be heard by more people. Unfortunately, it is my understanding that The Wilcox forum had higher national ratings than Air America.

In all seriousness, this shows that Frank his working hard to get his name out and is not afraid to play "on the road." Hopefully it will get more people to read his book as well.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Graf's New Campaign Manager

Randy Graf has selected R.T. Gregg as his new campaign manager. As was promised in the Rumor section, RT is indeed a strong choice and should be able to Move Graf's campaign forward.

It appears that the two things that he is going to address out of the gate are:

1. Fundraising. Obviously this is the weak part of Graf's campaign and I would assume the major factor behind the hiring of Gregg. It appears that he has a background with being involved in races all over the country (especially winning races). I just wonder if not having contacts specifically in Arizona will be an issue when it comes to raising money.

2. Image management. Kolbe's initial attack seems to have stuck to a degree, and Gregg will need to help Graf demonstrate that he is more mainstream than he has been drawn as. In this area, Gregg should be able to shine as just the fact that he has signed onto the campaign relieves some of the anxiety from certain quarters. If the man worked for J.C. Watts and Bill Royer, he certainly can help shed an image of a fringe candidate with a local weekend radio show host as a campaign manager.

It will be interesting to see if this appointment actually turns the Aiken dismissal into a net positive for Graff.

Official Bonus points for any reader who can identify what R.T. stands for.