I continue to get calls asking me how the Democrats can possibly believe that they can win in Arizona in 2012?
Befuddled by our politicians who seem to get news coverage with the aim of a heat-seeking missile, folks back East, I suspect, find the optimism “cute.”
After all, how can a place that serves as the national petri dish for wacky ideas and off the edge conservative ploys even think of scoring wins? “Better they should focus on their golf games” is what hides justs beneath the surface of their inquiries.
But they do so with at least some degree of risk.
Consider this: the vast majority of Arizonans parrot the rest of the country with politics that are middle-right, not the far, far right that our politicians project.
In true western style, its like the Republicans are standing out in the street saying “..do you feel lucky today, punk. Do you?”
And the answer is take your punk and shove it.
Why? Why are Democrats here in the land of lizards at all optimistic? There are 3 reasons:
1) They have the single best candidate for statewide office than has climbed up on an Arizona donkey in years with U.S. Senate candidate Richard “Former surgeon general” Carmona. I’ve said this before, but its worth repeating now: If a group of my fellow Democratic strategists sat in a room to build candidate, Carmona would be the fellow walking out when we finished.
2) After years of doing voter registration in a very nice, very liberal way, state party pros (they now have pros) have finally figured out that registering the other team’s voters is kind of…well, stupid. So they’re going to town registering voters in traditionally high volume Democratic areas. And that includes Latino voters. Which goes to…
3) Latino voters. I’ve now lived through at least a dozen Arizona elections during which the “Latino vote” just never materialized, for whatever reasons. But things are different this year; very different. First and foremost is the backlash from the “Show me your papers” anti-immigration law SB1070. Oh sure, second and third generation Latinos aren’t too thrilled with undocumented people coming across the border either. But they are pissed at what SB1070 threatened to do to their family members who come across the Mexican border illegally. They may not want them in the country either, but they’ll be damned if such a backward law created by racist neanderthals is going to be used against people like themselves — even close or distant relatives.
There are a few other points that are lighting up the conversation at the Park Central Mall Starbucks most mornings. Take the redrawn legislative and congressional district lines. They’re much,much better than they’;ve been over the last 10 years and competitive to an extent the state hasn’t seen in generations. So, where it once was a matter of Democrats getting themselves feeling comfortable with being in a state of permanent minority status, they’re now in the hunt to take over the State House and possibly the State Senate too.
Nowhere is this more noticeable than when you see the grin in the face of House Minority Leader Chad Campbell. No photos of that ‘look’ available here, but if you’ve ever seen a cat ready to pounce on a mouse, you’ll get the idea.