Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Reflections on the Arizona gubernatorial primary

It's disappointing that Andrew Thomas lost, but honestly I knew weeks ago he was going to lose and it wasn't going to be close. Having worked on numerous political campaigns in the past, some which were successful, some which weren't, I saw the writing on the wall. The first sign was the lack of endorsements. Key people who had endorsed him in the past - who will remain *nameless* - endorsed others. Having two other candidates running to the right like Melvin and Riggs also hurt Thomas, especially when Melvin dropped out and endorsed Ducey.

The second sign Thomas was not going to do well was the massive amounts of money other candidates - who were independently wealthy - spent. Several million dollars to Thomas's $754,000 was like David and Goliath. I was hoping he might pull off a win like Dave Brat did over incumbent House Rep Eric Cantor - Cantor outspent Brat a whopping 26-to-1 and had massive major endorsements - but one key difference is Brat had all of right wing talk radio behind him due to the illegal immigration issue. Right wing talk radio was all over the board in the Arizona gubernatorial race, especially since with the exception of Smith, the other candidates all ran to the right on illegal immigration. The large amount of money allowed them to run several push-polls, which influence voters. Despite the wildly skewed polls, Thomas ended up a larger percentage of the vote than most of the polls predicted.

I think those of us who are active on social media and the blogs tend to get a slanted opinion of elections; we forget that there are so many people out there who are getting their news and information solely from TV, radio, and the dying print newspapers. I learned this while working on the JD Hayworth Senate campaign against John McCain. It's part of the reason I stopped doing social media for a living; you can work around the clock on social media for a candidate, but if the candidate doesn't have the money and/or name ID, you'll make only a small dent in the race. Once McCain poured his $30 million war chest from his failed presidential run into the Senate race, running "build the dang fence" TV ads nonstop around the clock, getting powerful endorsements like Sarah Palin's, it was all over. JD raised a respectable $3 million in the race, and was originally beating McCain in the polls when he decided to run, but with a 10-to-1 financial advantage like that, it would have taken a lot more - and we didn't even have talk radio fully with us, liberal Republican Barry Young went on a rampage supporting McCain and trashing those of us working for JD. 

I understand the reasoning why some conservatives didn't support Thomas, they claimed he was unelectable due to the Bar coming after him.  But as I wrote here, plenty of people have been viciously attacked, disbarred, etc., and gone on to have immensely successful careers. We're just on the tip of the iceberg cleaning up the corruption in the system and once it's all said and done, Thomas will be fully exonerated.

I think it's disappointing that we're not going to have a governor we know will NEVER compromise, and who will clean up the corruption in the State Bar and judiciary. I really hope Ducey isn't going to be another Governor Brewer. His statements on Common Core and Brewer's Obamacare Medicaid expansion have been wishy-washy. Brewer has proven to be a bit of a disappointment on those two issues, bringing Common Core to Arizona with Tom Horne, strong-arming Republican legislators into supporting the Obamacare Medicaid expansion, and aggressively supporting a 1% sales tax increase. If Ducey hires Chuck Coughlin as his consultant, you can guarantee Coughlin will push him to the left as he's done with Brewer.

But I'm willing to give Ducey a chance. He was a likable guy before this primary, I just am concerned with a few things I saw during the primary. Now, on to beating Duval, which I think should be fairly easy.

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