Dear Dr. Bob,
I just read in the paper that former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas (R-disbarred) is running for Arizona governor.
Is this a good thing or bad thing for Democrats?
Sorry it has taken a while to write a response, but I couldn’t stop laughing. Yes! It is a very good thing for Democrats and, if what we’re seeing from Mark Sanford’s campaign is any indication, the news media which is hunkering down for something to justify acknowledging that there’s even going to be an election.
But it is also a good thing for thinking Republicans in the state who are fed up with their party having been taken over by the Taliban wing. This gives them an opportunity to say, “are you kidding us?” while hoping that they can get enough moderate Republicans to vote in their primary election so that there is actual change. Ok, perhaps not moderate Republicans..maybe just non-medicated Republicans or those who should be. Can you say “psychotic?”
But, as it is said, “hope is not a method.”
So, assuming that the Republican primary for governor turns into a classic GOP circular firing squad with the Taliban types supplying the ammo, it is unlikely that the moderates will even show their heads.
But I digress. So far the GOP field is shaping up to be a competition between the extreme right and the further extreme right that don’t seem like they are. And appearances count for a great deal in Arizona politics — I’m reminded of Jon Kyl’s TV spots in which he’s driving around in an old pick-up truck and Jon McCain’s “build the dang fence” spot. (As the third highest ranking Republican in the Senate, it is more likely that Kyl was being chauffeured around Washington in a black Lincoln not an old pick-up truck.)
So if Thomas’ handlers can clean him up and make everyone who isn’t an extremist appear to be part of a mindless attack machine out to destroy this ‘honorable public servant who was just fighting against the bad guys,’ then the dude might actually have a chance to squeak through a crowded GOP field. He certainly has name-ID, you know, and most likely the support of “Sheriff Joe.”
And that, I suspect is going to be very good news for the Democratic primary winner’s appeal to the majority of Arizona voters who are center-left or center-center. Now, who that is going to be is currently up for grabs, but will most likely boil down to Fred DuVal who has already announced and Chad Campbell who is still “exploring.” Those explorations, I suspect, are going to be a considerably more fruitful than finding the Lost Dutchman’s Mine. That’ll create a two-person race between two superior and well-funded candidates, either one of which should be able to turn the GOP nominee into horse meat assuming no major screw-ups.
Possible Democratic screw-ups include:
1. Over reliance on consultants who rarely step outside of the Washington Beltway with little knowledge of our strange little state and don’t fight the Taliban very often. We’ve long since seen the domination of Arizona elections by out-of-state consultants, but having a few Arizona-based folks around makes sense.
2. Getting trapped into supporting something that most Arizona voters don’t like –this is the “Eddie Basha” error, god bless him, in which he was trapped into saying he’d support Gay marriage. Eddie was way ahead of the curve that is now seeing Gay marriage becoming a new centrist issue, by the way.
3. Failing to go on the attack early and often. This is often difficult for Democrats because we’re, well, nice. But failure to do that is akin to waiting for someone to knock you out and then trying to hit back while your head is spinning. There is a tendency, by the way, to divide up positive and negative campaigns between the candidate’s campaign and so-called “independent expenditure” campaigns. Let the candidate be positive and the outsiders do the negative lifting. This an error, I believe. Voters, particularly in Arizona, want to see a candidate who can toss a right hook when warranted.
4. Wasting money. Oy…if I had a dime for every time a dollar was misspent I’d be as wealthy as the Republicans. There are only three things that are worth spending money: Media, votes and more money. If proposed spending doesn’t directly connect to one of those things, don’t spend it.
Finally, if you see that old pickup truck from wherever Republican props are kept between elections, get a horse.