By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
A bucket of warm spit. That's the phrase Franklin D. Roosevelt's veep, John Nance "Cactus Jack" Garner once famously coined to describe the institution of the vice presidency. He actually called it "a bucket of warm piss," but the G-rated version is more familiar to most.
The phrase applies equally, in The Bird's mind, to the Arizona Democratic Party, which proved itself on Election Day to be just as worthless a saliva bucket as the office of the vice presidency, albeit on a local level.
This mockingbird spews this insult not at the candidates who busted their hind ends to challenge local GOPers for races statewide, but rather the Arizona Democratic Party, run by chairman Don Bivens and executive director Maria Weeg.
Because in a year when Democrats elected an African-American to the presidency and change broke out in unlikely places like North Carolina — where Democrat Kay Hagan trounced U.S. Senator Elizabeth Dole, or New Hampshire, where Dem Jeanne Shaheen did likewise to Republican lizard-man and U.S. Senator John Sununu — Sand Land Dems blew it, big-time.
Yeah, sure, Dems held onto the congressional seats won in 2006 by Harry Mitchell and Gabby Giffords, and picked up one with Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick's win over Republican Sydney Hay for indicted Congressman "Slick" Rick Renzi's vacated seat.
But until about 8:30 on election night at the Wyndham Hotel in downtown Phoenix, where Dems traditionally watch the returns, Bivens and his fellow Donkey Kongs were talking up a dust storm about how Dems had a million registered voters and were probably gonna take the state House, maybe even the state Senate. Hell, it's the same line they'd been feeding their followers since the beginning of the year, touting their fat, million-dollar fundraising advantage over an impoverished state GOP.
Yet, even Barack Obama's victory speech that night couldn't obscure the obvious to this avian, who was on hand at the Wyndham to observe the debacle. Local Dems were big losers. They didn't pick up seats in the Legislature, they lost seats, and both state House and Senate remain firmly in GOP control. Worse even, as Governor Janet Napolitano will likely be skipping off to D.C. to somehow serve the Obama administration, Republican Secretary of State Jan Brewer would then become guv.
Granted, Nappy has been a sheepish chief executive during her tenure, but occasionally, she's vetoed some of the more deranged bills that right-wing wackjobs like Russell Pearce (formerly a state rep, now a state senator) have tried to turn into law. Once the doorknob smacks her fanny on the way out, the stopgap of her under-used veto will no longer be in place.
The Bird refers to the fact that Mr. Civil Rights Abuse himself, Joe Arpaio, was re-elected to a fifth term. Joe's unctuous, Harvard-educated ally, County Attorney Andrew Thomas, has likewise been returned to power. And with a Republican super-majority retained on the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, where sole Dem Mary Rose Wilcox struggles on as the loyal opposition, the state's most populous county remains firmly in the grip of reactionary forces.
To go geek on ya, it's as if, during the initial Star Wars flick, the rebels never destroyed the Death Star, and Darth Vader never went careening off into space. In Maricopa County, Republican rule is absolute, and your rights as a U.S. citizen are not worth much more than a drop in the aforementioned saliva bucket.
Just don't tell that to Emily DeRose, the state party flack whom executive director Weeg had answer this talon-bearer's questions rather than answer them her own damn self. The Bird can't blame Weeg for hiding behind her lieutenant. After all, Weeg's got a job to save. Her own.
"We did win big, statewide," the Pollyanna-ish DeRose informed this avian. "We took a majority of the statewide races that were on the ballot. And we took a majority of the congressional races. So it's certainly — while not a night of all good things — was really a night for us to celebrate."
Yep, you heard her right, Bird-lovers. DeRose said "celebrate." As for the "majority of the statewide races," she means two out of the three seats on the Arizona Corporation Commission on the line.
The third's still in play, as this wren writes, between Dem Sam George and Republican Bob Stump. As for the congressional spots, the Dems have five to the GOP's three. But our U.S. Senate seats remain Republican, as neither was up for grabs.
"I think we did a really phenomenal job," enthused DeRose. Um, but what about not taking the state House, or the losses here in Maricopa County?
"Our ground game was absolutely tremendously powerful," DeRose said of the Dems strategy, adding, "But at the end of the day, we were just not able to overcome the registration gap."
DeRose was referring to the gap between registered Republicans and Dems. Statewide, it's considerable but not insurmountable: about 1 million Dems to 1.18 million GOPers. Considering that there are more than 800,000 Independents statewide, the Dems' failures at the polls are even more severe, despite all the Prozac-laced Kool-Aid DeRose seems to have been guzzling.
Defeated Democratic state Senate candidate Jim Larson offered a colorful analogy to this feathered fiend concerning the local party's state of denial.
"It's sort of like someone admiring the fireworks going on above them while their house is on fire," said Larson, who lost big in Legislative District 6 to Republican Pamela Gorman.
Larson and numerous other Dems to whom this plumed serpent spoke after the election feel the Dems' local strategy stunk on ice. Instead of backing all Dems in all races, statewide, the Arizona Democratic Party "targeted" certain races to assist and placed a lot of its emphasis on the Obama-McCain race, instead of getting Dems elected.
"We were left out in the cold," Larson complained, referring to himself and his fellow, non-targeted Dems. "That was obvious early on, when all the resources were diverted to get out the vote for the national campaign."
The state party can assist so-called "down-ticket" candidates in several ways, by calling voters through phone banks, coordinating volunteers, and distributing certain types of literature. For local candidates with limited resources, this can make a huge difference. But locals were not feelin' the love during this election. And some of them are so ticked off they may not run again.
One of those who doubts she'll run again because of the way the state party treated her is Sue Dolphin, who, along with fellow Democratic candidate Paula Forster, failed to snag one of the two open state House seats in Legislative District 4. Both slots fell to Republicans.
"We got no help," Dolphin kvetched. "We were told we were not a targeted district, so we would not be getting any support at all."
Dolphin thinks the cash-rich state Dems should have targeted all races where Dems were vying for votes and should have done a much better job of getting out the vote. She and other Dems believe such a strategy might have lifted all boats and strengthened the Democratic brand in the state. Instead, the state party played favorites, writing off some seats, defending others.
For Todd Landfried, host of the liberal talk-radio show Desert Politics on KPHX 1480 and, until the beginning of September, executive director of the Maricopa County Democratic Party, this targeting strategy was a loser from jump.
"It's more like they targeted candidates instead of districts," explained Landfried, who left his party post to consult for sheriff hopeful Dan Saban and other Democratic candidates for county posts. "You're building name recognition that way. But building name recognition for a candidate is not the same in the mind of the voter as the motivation to vote."
Lanfried insists the party should have had a statewide effort mirroring that of Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean, whose 50-state strategy (that is, running a presidential campaign to some degree in every state in the union) is widely credited with helping Barack Obama win the White House.
"You compete everywhere," said Landfried. "Whether you win or lose, you still compete."
Such a warrior spirit might have had a direct impact on various local races, not all of them legislative. In Maricopa County, the state party made no bones about targeting Tim Nelson's race for county attorney against incumbent Andrew Thomas and ignoring Dan Saban's battle against Joe Arpaio. Nelson got the endorsement of Governor Napolitano, who stumped for him and helped him raise a buttload of money, and the party followed her lead. All while Saban was essentially persona non grata with the state muck-a-mucks.
"Folks in the state party wouldn't have walked across the street to piss on Dan if he was on fire," sputtered Saban's campaign manager, Bill Perry.
One Democratic volunteer told The Bird that Saban's name wasn't even on the script they used when calling county Dems to remind them to vote, even though every other Dem of note was mentioned. State Dems put all of their eggs in the Nelson basket. Yet, at the end of the day, Saban ended up receiving slightly more votes than Nelson — 502,130 to Nelson's 496,309, at last count. And, of course, Nelson still lost.
The state party failed miserably in its GOTV (get out the vote) effort, which, combined with its strategy of targeting races, doomed many local candidacies. For example, though County Recorder (and Republican) Helen Purcell had predicted upward of an 85 percent turnout, at last count, the turnout in the county was running about 71 percent. Statewide, it was about the same.
A better GOTV effort and a little aid from the state party might have helped Democrat Leigh Strickman, who came out of nowhere to run a tough campaign against Republican County Supervisor Max Wilson. Despite never having run for office before, Strickman received a whopping 119,429 votes to Wilson's 157,199.
"Most people who know me are saying, 'Wow, look at all the votes you did get,'" said Strickman. "But you know, I could've won with a little more help."
Strickman pointed out that several different legislative districts converge in Supervisor District 4, where she was running. A better GOTV campaign combined with the targeting of all Democratic races would have boosted her chances. As it was, Strickman said, there was no one even coordinating the activities of all the different campaigns.
"If we had played like a team, I think we could have had a different result," Strickman said.
State Dem flack DeRose argued that the party did all it could in a red state with a GOP homeboy running for prez and an Obama campaign with only a couple of offices statewide. Then there was the Dems' historic registration disadvantage. She's probably right about John McCain bringing out GOPers to the polls, but what happened to all those new voters the Dems have been boasting about and all that enthusiasm for Obama?
"We'll be doing detailed postmortems in the coming weeks," chirped the effervescent DeRose. Meanwhile, she had no answer for why the Dems' GOTV effort was a bust. She couldn't say what the party had done to help non-targeted races. Nor could she even cough up the names of the people at the state party responsible for strategy.
Landfried, Larson, and many others noted a problem with the Dems' message, or lack thereof. Republicans have a simple answer to the immigration problem: arrest, prosecute, and deport all illegal immigrants. But Dems refused to engage on the issue.
Similarly, the far right had a hunk of red meat in Prop 102, the anti-gay-marriage amendment, and it drew GOP voters to the polls like jackals to a carcass. The state Dems response? Ignore the 800-pound GOP pachyderm in the room.
In The Bird's view, the party's pusillanimity and strategic stupidity drips from the top down. And though Dems will miss her veto power, the likelihood of Janet amscraying to D.C. might be a blessing in disguise. Like with a losing sports franchise, sometimes the best thing is to oust the entire coaching staff. Now if the party could make sure Bivens and Weeg take a powder as well . . .
Maria Weeg's been gloating in recent weeks over the fact that state GOP chairman Randy Pullen's had to give back $105K in donations from the shadowy Sheriff's Command Association, which has a P.O. box in Mesa and MCSO Captain Joel Fox writing checks.
In one recent state Democratic Party statement on the GOP funny money, the press release began with one line: "Republicans have only $73,000 cash on hand."
Of course, the GOP still kicked donkey ass, and that's where the parallels to Watergate begin but don't end, because if you'll recall, President Richard Nixon didn't really need a secret team of "plumbers" to break into the Dems' HQ in the Watergate complex in D.C. back in 1972, or to undermine their Democratic opponents as such GOP dirty tricksters did back then.
As anyone who's seen All the President's Men knows, Nixon was barreling toward a landslide re-election. Nixon's ultimate rival, Democrat George McGovern, would have lost, even without all the political subterfuge on the part of Nixon's CREEP, the Committee to Re-elect the President.
Similarly, Arpaio far out-raised Dan Saban. Until Arpaio ran the scummy anti-Saban TV ads in September, Arpaio and his operatives were successfully ignoring Saban's scramble for votes. And the electorate was generally following their lead. The anti-Saban ads were as unnecessary for Arpaio as Nixon's shenanigans were for him in 1972.
But it's almost as if, like Nixon, Arpaio, et al. couldn't help themselves.
Captain Fox, fronting for the SCA, donated $105K to the state GOP. Chairman Pullen funneled $78K of that into an independent expenditure group called Arizonans for Public Safety, which targeted (in a bad way) the campaigns of Saban and Tim Nelson. Such earmarking of funds is illegal. And groups like the SCA have to disclose the names of donors, so the party in turn can hand over that info to the Arizona Secretary of State.
According to an October 31 letter from Pullen to the Secretary of State's Office in response to the state Dems' complaint that the GOP had violated several state laws, Pullen asserts that he asked "Mr." Joel Fox for the names of those in the SCA, but received no reply. So he finally, grudgingly had to return the dolo. Of course, by then, the nasty anti-Saban ads had already been paid for.
Pullen claims, "No one at the party ever had a direct or indirect conversation with anyone . . . associated with SCA regarding the use of the funds."
The whole affair smells like a loaded diaper, and Joel Fox bears a too-close resemblance to infamous Nixon operative G. Gordon Liddy, mastermind of the Watergate break-in. Attorney General Terry Goddard confirmed that his office received a complaint concerning SCA-gate and that it was looking into the matter. Mysteriously, he said he could say no more.
What Goddard should do is call in Fox for questioning and interrogate Mr. Mustache under a hot light. Who knows? Maybe SCA-gate could do what Saban was unable to: remove Joe from office. But this heron would settle for whatever top member of Joe's command staff pulled the strings.
Arizona is pretty conservative after all they have MARAPOSA COUNTY and SHERIFF JOE ARPIO which we need more of
It's about time someone remembered the good old "Sheriff's Command Association" (SCA) other than myself. But will Terry Goddard have the courage to pursue it? I am bitter about this! While the local media barely covered it and the Dem's made some noise-they all seem to think it was OK since Arpaio won and they gave back the money. I guess we are supposed to believe that 105K is sitting in a PO Box in Mesa and thats all we need to know about it. As Arpaio would say while wagging his finger " None of your business!" Arpaio's official doner list was filled with contributions from employees of MCSO. When is the last time employees making 40,000/year line up to fork over 390 dollar contributions? Joel Fox received a nice promotion last election for working on Arpaio's campaign in 2004, but no one wants to touch this? Follow the money!
Attention All Voters of AZ:I am really wondering whether or not the Democratic Party wanted to be in charge of AZ. It is so much easier to blame the other party for all the problems but I blame you registered party membership for not pushing the issues. Well, you can't get that right so how about doing something positive for this state: help the AZ Green Party get back on the ballot for 2010. You think you lack money for all your candidates; all we want is to be able to just get on the ballot. You want to join the party; that is fine also. Welcome to the party who believe in civil rights for all people. AZGP.org.
It seems to me that if you believe your presidential candidate isn't going to win because they're the "home town" boy, then wouldn't a prudent strategy be to help those who do have a chance? Why wouldn't you use resources to build the home team bench and prepare candidates for future elections? Democrats have lost every time they've used this single-minded approach.
Who knows if they'll ever learn.
Heh, Heh, G. Gordan, wasn't it those mousey types that exposed you and the other participants in the Watergate affair? And didn't you, unappreciated hero to your own psychopathic mind, then spend a number of years in the federal penitentiary in partial atonement for those crimes thanks to those same journalist weenies? Looks to me and the vast majority of Americans that they are the true heroes in your twisted saga of warped patriotism gone completely bad. You pathetic example of a man really have nothing to teach anyone except to avoid lunatics posing as patriots!
Well, G. Gordon does live in Scottsdale (or did, the last time I checked). Once, I even saw baldilocks driving through the parking lot at Biltmore Shopping Plaza. Whoopee.
So I guess, theoretically, it could be him. The "can of hash" reference is roughly consistent with someone of both his generation and his temperament.
Speaking of which, having read "Will" many years ago, and having heard a little of his AM Radio rants (in much the same vein) since then, it seems odd to me that "G. Gordon" should grouse about "the bile of discontent". This from someone who seems to have developed a bitter hatred of everyone and everything aside from J. Edgar Hoover, Tricky Dick Nixon, John McCain, and (now it is revealed) Uncle Joe Arpaio. Kind of like a crazy pit-bull frothing at the mouth most of the time, but turning all warm and fuzzy whenever his owner (the Alpha Male) walks into the room.
Now -- typical psycho -- he's regurgitating those talks with the prison chaplin he received in the spare moments when he wasn't distilling pure nicotine (for use as a poison) from a box of cigars, or fuming about how his plan to kill Jack Anderson petered out -- like all his grandiose schemes, except the one he landed in prison for, and that one was just a failure. (Wasn't it, "Superklutz"?) Seems he's a bit of a wackjob. According to his bio, he spent his childhood admiring the speeches of Adolph Hitler and castigating himself for cowardice; and then one day he felt something go "snap" in his head, and a sensation like warm treacle dripping over his brain. Right about then was when he began holding his hand over open candle flames. Ever since then, he's been a one-man pit-bull, for the right Alpha Male. Arf, arf, baby! What an oddball. No wonder talk radio is the only place he's ever fit in.
Now, if the signature is to be believed, he's up at 1 in the morning posting smack about The Bird. Yeah, that geezer's "in the game" alright. Probably Russian Roulette. I'll bet he gets insomnia over all those lost years in the slammer, and sits in front of the mirror interrogating himself by way of castigation.
You mousey news types that just love to hide behind your desks and your first amendments and your fat bellys have such a grand ol' time talkin trash about everybody else. You even got your little boobs following you around chanting your praises and demanding that "something be done".
But you're a sidelines kinda guy. A story-teller. A witness. A puny little wannabe important attention whore who stays at work all night because it's just too depressing to go back to your run down studio apartment and watch reruns of old cartoons while eating your last can of hash.
If you only had the guts, or the brains, or even just the motivation to get into the game you probably wouldn't hate so much.
But you go right on choking on the bile of discontent. You go right on blaming everyone else for your pitiful life. People like you will never win a fight because you don't know how. You don't even have what it takes to learn.
You go right on publishing lies about me and other great Americans like Joe Arpaio. There is no punishment for you that could be worse than letting you live your rotten life.
well here it is AG Goddard, a big, early christmas present nice and wrapped for you and everything!!! lets see you do the right thing and prosecute this as it should be, and not say you cant becuase of a conflict of interest about an investigation that arpaio doesnt even have jurisdiction to do in the first place!!
Dear Mr. Lemons,
Thank you for pointing out the fact that the Arizona Democratic Party leadership is composed of feculent weenies. My theory is that Myrtle the Turtle has them p-whipped.
Meanwhile, here is some timely information on card-check unionization which the Arizona Republic will never report. And, I daresay, likely not the New Times under the stewardship of Mr. Lacey. (My gracious heavens -- I'm being FORCED to join a union, at the risk of earning an average of $200 a week more than my non-unionized counterparts, according to Labor Department statistics.)