Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Politico: McCain purging conservatives, tea partiers out of party leadership in Arizona

McCain's big purge 
The Arizona senator’s team has been ridding the state’s GOP apparatus of his tea party foes. 

By ALEX ISENSTADT 12/30/14 5:33 AM EST

Note: A FB group has been started called End the Reign of Senator John McCain

Nearly a year ago, tea party agitators in Arizona managed to get John McCain censured by his own state party. Now, he’s getting his revenge.
As the longtime Republican senator lays the groundwork for a likely 2016 reelection bid, his political team is engaging in an aggressive and systematic campaign to reshape the state GOP apparatus by ridding it of conservative firebrands and replacing them with steadfast allies.
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The ambitious effort — detailed to POLITICO by nearly a dozen McCain operatives, donors, and friends — has stretched from office buildings in Alexandria, Virginia, where strategists plotted and fundraisers collected cash for a super PAC, to Vietnamese-American communities across Arizona, where recruiters sought out supporters eager to help the incumbent defeat the tea party.
Team McCain’s goal? Unseat conservative activists who hold obscure, but influential, local party offices.
Under the byzantine rules of Arizona Republican Party politics, these elected officials, known as precinct committeemen, vote for local party chairmen. The chairmen, in turn, determine how state and local GOP funds are spent, which candidates are promoted in an election year, and which political issues are highlighted — all matters of central concern for McCain heading into 2016, when the threat of a primary looms.
Prior to Aug. 26, when the races for the party offices were held, the vast majority of the 3,925 precinct slots were filled by people McCain’s team considered opponents. Now, after an influx of candidates were recruited by the senator’s allies, around 40 percent of those offices — 1,531 to be exact — will be held by people McCain’s team regards as friendly. They will have the power to vote down hostile Republican chairmen in each of their respective localities.
“There’s been a huge organizational effort that I’ve never seen before,” said Gordon James, an Arizona public relations executive and longtime McCain confidant. “A lot of the party folks who were hostile to John McCain have been marginalized, and that’s a good thing.”
The biggest foe to fall: Timothy Schwartz, the man who authored the McCain censure resolution. Earlier this month, Schwartz was ousted from his post as a GOP legislative district chairman by a group of newly elected precinct committeemen who voted in favor of a McCain-aligned candidate. Another outspoken McCain detractor, A.J. LaFaro, recently announced that he wouldn’t be seeking reelection to the Maricopa County Republican chairmanship, a tacit recognition that he didn’t have enough support to win.
In an interview, Schwartz blamed his ouster squarely on McCain, whom he said had singled him out. “It’s very clear what’s going on,” he said. “Look, John McCain has prominence and money and influence and because of that he thinks he can ramrod us.”
John McCain has prominence and money and influence and because of that he thinks he can ramrod us.
LaFaro accused the senator of engaging in the equivalent of “ethnic cleansing.” “For John McCain to have been so vindictive in his actions … It’s just amazing,” he said. “It’s been all-out war.”
McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, has long faced opposition from conservatives who view him as too moderate, particularly on immigration. During the height of the tea party movement in 2010, McCain stared down a spirited primary challenge from J.D. Hayworth, a conservative former congressman. Many in the state expect the senator to face another primary challenge in 2016.
Until this year, however, McCain aides had never seriously considered a concerted effort to remake the state GOP apparatus, which has traditionally been dominated by his conservative antagonists. That changed after the January censure, which rapped the senator for having an insufficiently conservative record that was “harmful” to Arizona.
“He was very unhappy with the censure and wanted to make sure it never happened again,” said Mike Hellon, McCain’s deputy campaign manager in 2010.
In the days after the state party’s rebuke, a group of top McCain political hands, including Jon Seaton and Christian Ferry — who worked for McCain in his 2008 campaign and have remained with him since — hatched a plan to form a super PAC that would spend money to elect a more friendly slate of precinct committeemen.
The super PAC, which was based out of offices in the Washington, D.C., suburbs and Phoenix and given the generic name “Arizona Grassroots Action PAC,” raised nearly $300,000. The largest checks, according to contribution reports, came from Gregory Maffei, a Colorado businessman, and Gregory Wendt, a San Francisco-based financial adviser, both longtime McCain donors.
Out in Arizona, the McCain forces, led by Seaton, set out to find would-be candidates for the precinct committee positions, many of them citizens with little or no political experience. They conferred with the establishment-aligned Chamber of Commerce and held recruitment house parties.
They also found a well of interest among Vietnamese-Americans, a small but politically active community which has long treated McCain, a Vietnam veteran who spent more than five years as a prisoner of war, as an ally; as a senator, he’s taken up the cause of the country’s refugees. More than 50 individuals of Vietnamese descent signed up to run for the precinct slots, and won.
One of the victors was Kevin Dang, the president of the Vietnamese Community of Arizona. Vietnamese-Americans had been motivated to run, Dang said, because of the attacks against McCain, which the community regarded as “disgraceful and discreditable.”
“The Vietnamese immigrants throughout the U.S. have a high regard for the senator, and the Vietnamese community in Arizona is proud to have him as our senator,” he said.
During the summer-time run-up to the party elections, which were held at the same time as other primary contests across the state, voters received mailers and automated phone calls from the pro-McCain super PAC advertising the new precinct committee hopefuls. In years past, these low profile races had mostly been uncontested affairs that drew only the most politically active conservatives — in other words, people generally hostile to the senator.
McCain aides maintain that he hasn’t been personally involved in the skirmishing, choosing to let his political handlers do the dirty work. But, they say, he’s pleased with the results.
“Sen. McCain has been a supporter of efforts to expand the party and to get more people involved,” said Brian Rogers, a McCain spokesman.
The effort to overhaul the state party comes as McCain, 78, is making other preparations for a reelection campaign. The day after the November midterm elections, he held a Phoenix meeting with top fundraisers that was attended by Michael Bidwill, the president of the Arizona Cardinals football franchise, and Bill Franke, the Frontier Airlines chairman.
McCain, who was first elected to the Senate in 1986, is also taking steps to show voters that he hasn’t forgotten about his home state — a perception that brought upon the defeat of his friend and Senate colleague, Indiana Republican Dick Lugar, in 2012. This month, McCain, the incoming chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, joined several members of Arizona’s congressional delegation on a fly-around to four of the state’s military installations.
Rogers, the McCain spokesman, said the senator had not made a final determination on whether to seek a sixth term but is “strongly leaning toward running again.” A decision, he said, would come sometime next year.
In Arizona, talk of a primary challenge to McCain persists.
Much of the speculation surrounds two potential conservative challengers, Reps. David Schweikert and Matt Salmon. Both have clashed with McCain in the past; in 2012, the senator endorsed establishment primary challengers to each. Spokesmen for Schweikert and Salmon didn’t respond to requests for comment.
McCain advisers believe their campaign to alter the state GOP will strengthen his hand in 2016; a more sympathetic Arizona Republican Party, they reason, will be less likely to lodge a censure resolution against him and rally activist support for any would-be primary opponents.
“If Senator McCain seeks re-election in 2016, the groundwork laid in 2014 will be extremely helpful,” Seaton wrote in an email, adding that he would be “running with the strong support of thousands of grassroots Arizonans.”
The next front for McCain will come next month in Maricopa County, the state’s most populous, when precinct committeemen there elect a new GOP chairman to succeed LaFaro. In the contest for that influential post, the McCain team is lining up behind local activist Lisa Gray and encouraging the county’s new precinct officers to support her over two opponents.
The McCain team hasn’t decided whether it will launch a similar campaign to influence local races in 2016; it’s priority that year, it says, will be reelecting the senator.
The tea party crowd, for now, isn’t retreating in the face of the McCain onslaught.
Anti-McCain forces are still in charge of the majority of precinct committee slots statewide, and, activists say, there are many remaining conservative chairmen hell-bent on making life miserable for the senator.
Schwartz, the ousted McCain foe, hinted that tea party forces were planning on striking back after the holidays. He declined to provide specifics.
“They think it’s over,” he said. “But the fat lady hasn’t sung.”

Posted from

Monday, December 22, 2014

The 20-year Demise of a Blue State

Seattle's Socialist city councilwoman, who got the minimum wage increased to $15/hr.
I left Washington state about 20 years ago for Arizona. A Washington native, I had become fed up with the left-wing politics of Seattle. A couple of years ago, I moved back to the Pacific Northwest. A lot had changed while I was gone, and very little for the better. The only “improvement” I noticed was more greenery everywhere. The environmentalists had gotten so many restrictions passed on logging and burning dense forestation that the Evergreen State had started to look like a jungle.

Everything else had gone downhill. The roads and traffic had become horrendous, especially in the Puget Sound area around Seattle, since there was no longer enough money to keep up with maintenance and expansion, and the left-wing politicians had prioritized mass transit over road infrastructure and planning. This is despite the fact that Washington has one of the highest gas taxes in the country, resulting in high gas prices. Republican legislators in the state side with the Democrats on many issues, including higher taxes for education and gas. Legislation is now being considered that would tax drivers per mile. Seattle has the eighth worst traffic congestion among large U.S. cities, even though it is only the 22nd largest city. Consequently, drivers have lost their reputation for being the nicest in the nation.

Driving in downtown Seattle is dreaded as much as driving in larger cities like Washington, D.C. and New York City due to congestion and parking. The Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement tunnel, which has been under construction in downtown Seattle since summer 2013, making traffic a nightmare, was never approved in any general election or referendum, and has been the subject of multiple lawsuits. It is scheduled to be completed in 2016, but no one believes it will on time due to unions, and it is frequently compared to Boston’s corrupt “Big Dig.” 

Friday, December 19, 2014

SRP Voting February 26 on Whether to Slap New Monthly Fee on Solar Users

Some people like to drive large trucks while others prefer small cars. It’s a matter of choice. Big trucks haul stuff. Small cars save money on gas.

But what if the government were to impose a fee on people with small cars because they consume less gas? Big government would make the case that by using less gas people who drive small cars are not paying their fair share of the infrastructure needed to deliver gasoline to the local service station.

It’s a ridiculous argument. And that’s exactly the argument the Salt River Project is making to justify a $50 a month fee on people who generate their own power through rooftop solar panels.

SRP is upset because the increase in solar could lead to a decrease in electricity used, less of their product purchased. Instead of cutting costs and a little belt tightening, the folks at SRP decided it would be a better idea to simply slap a $50 a month fee on new rooftop solar users and hit existing solar customers with a fee after ten years or when they sell their home.

The SRP Board will have the final say with a vote February 26th.

It’s a win/win for SRP. It collects fees from rooftop solar users while at the same time taxing its competition, rooftop solar, out of existence.

Any student of Arizona history will tell you that SRP was founded on innovation and the pioneering spirit. The bureaucrats who currently occupy the offices at SRP have forgotten that.

Let’s hope the SRP Board members have better memories. The members are listed below.

Division 1: Kevin J. Johnson
Division 2: Paul E. Rovey
Division 3: Mario J. Herrera
Division 4: Leslie C. Williams
Division 5: Stephen H. Williams
Division 6: Jack M. White Jr.
Division 7: Keith B. Woods
Division 8: Deborah S. Hendrickson
Division 9: Arthur L. Freeman
Division 10: Mark V. Pace
Seat 11: Carolyn Pendergast
Seat 12: William W. Arnett
Seat 13: Fred J. Ash
Seat 14: Wendy L. Marshall

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Recall Starts Before Anti-Common Core Arizona Schools Superintendent Even Takes Office

Diane Douglas, a little-known, outspoken opponent of Common Core who ran for Arizona Superintendent of Schools on that issue, surprised everyone this fall when she won. Incredibly, only five days after the election – the day it was announced she had won – a couple of opponents launched a recall effort against her. They formed a political committee and started a Facebook page, which has almost 10,000 likes already.
The premature recall is even more ill-timed considering teachers are now turning against Common Core. A recent poll found that support from teachers dropped from 76 percent in 2013 to only 46 percent in 2014 – lower than the general population’s support. In fact, 60 to 65 percent of teachers are either “frustrated” or “worried” by Common Core. Public opposition has increased from 12 percent to 40 percent.
Douglas describes Common Core as “controlled by federal bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., or ivory-tower academics or quite frankly people who just want to make a dollar off our poor children.” Instead, she says as schools superintendent she intends to listen to parents and teachers.
Anthony Espinoza, the 25-year-old organizer behind the recall, told 3TV, “I believe that she’s unqualified to lead the state schools because the way she ran her campaign was behind closed doors. She refused to talk to media, she ran on one issue which was to repeal Common Core.” In Arizona, where the media is controlled by the left, it is not unusual for conservative candidates to refuse to speak to the media, instead going straight to the people to deliver their message.

Most of the comments on the recall’s Facebook page are nothing more than cheap shots at Douglas’s intelligence and experience. I attended conservative political meetings with Douglas for years, where she frequently gave speeches, and was nothing less than impressed with her knowledge, intelligence and competency. One commenter wrote, “She doesn’t know how to speak properly!! She’s a complete moron!!!” Clearly, they never have actually bothered to listen to her speak.
Read the rest of the article at the Selous Foundation for Public Policy Research

Friday, December 12, 2014

Tucson Electric Power: APS’ Little Brother

Back in 1988 there was a movie called “Twins” Starring Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Well if APS is Arizona’s utility Schwarzenegger, then TEP is DeVito.

Arizona Public Service isn’t the only player on a plan to use captive ratepayer dollars to monopolize the rooftop solar industry. Tucson Electric Power has joined the chorus.

Even though the need for rooftop solar is currently being served by a competitive private sector market, Tucson Electric Power and Arizona Public Service are seeking permission from the Arizona Corporation Commission to use ratepayer funds to underwrite a rooftop solar program.

As regulated monopolies, TEP and APS have guaranteed profits. The utilities want to use those captive profits to drive competitors in the rooftop solar market out of business.

If this happens, private sector options and competition will vanish statewide, including in Tucson.

This jobs-killing plan has been making headlines in the Phoenix area but the debate in Tucson has been more subdued.
Maybe it’s because TEP doesn’t have APS’ lust for as much dark money and deceit. But it’s learning fast from its big brother to the north.

Make no mistake, TEP shares APS’ goal of driving energy competition out of business. TEP itself has claimed that the main purpose of offering rooftop solar is to provide a monopoly controlled choice to customers, competing both directly with the private market.

Why else would it want to pump ratepayer dollars into the rooftop solar market which is being well served by the private sector? In fact, there are many companies competing for that business. What will happen to pricing once TEP controls the market?

Many thought TEP was above the dirty tricks employed by APS. It was hoped that TEP valued its reputation. In partnering with APS on a plan that would undermine rooftop solar, TEP is demonstrating it’s willing and able to employ the same untoward tactics we have come to expect from its big brother, APS.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

"F*** the Police. Shoot Back!" graffiti in Phoenix in response to latest shooting

Thanks to Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio for posting this photo of Phoenix Police Officer Joel Tranter standing next to threatening graffiti. This is what the race baiters have fomented, and it's just going to get worse unless people stand up and say enough. Photos from the rioting in Ferguson are posted here and my analysis is here.

2014 Victory party with AFP AZ tonight


Dear Arizona Taxpayer:

There is a lot to celebrate, and the Arizona chapter of Americans for Prosperity Foundation invites you to join us on the evening of December 10 for a special cocktail and hors d'oeuvres reception (Details below).

  • 2014 has been a great year for the State of Arizona. AFP-Arizona (our sister organization) and its allies achieved several important policy victories in the 2014 legislative session.
  • AFP-Arizona's field team also conducted a gigantic data-collection and citizen education operation this year from February to November, making 90,000 calls in Arizona this year and knocking on 70,000 doors.
  • Finally, the Arizona chapter of AFP Foundation engaged in a campaign to reach out to 50,000 unregistered voters in September.
On the evening of December 10th, we will celebrate these victories and say THANK YOU to our volunteers and allied elected officials for the hard work they did to educate our fellow citizens on free-market issues and to protect the interests of Arizona's taxpayers, consumers and producers.  AFPF-Arizona will also present the 2014 John W. Dawson "Local Hero" Award to the local government official we believe did the most to educate citizens about limited government policies.

During the event, AFPF-Arizona will announce a major new educational project - the Liberty and Prosperity Initiative - designed to bring 100 college and high school students into the free-market movement in 2015 and train them in state-of-the-art door canvassing and other grassroots technologies. 

On Wednesday night, December 10th, from 6:00 to 8:00 pm, AFPF-Arizona will host a cocktail and hors d'oeuvres reception at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort at 7200 N. Scottsdale Road (just north of Indian Bend). Please register now for the December 10th event HERE.

For Liberty, Tom