Congressional District 7 Candidates Wage Battle Over Guns On Twitter, Facebook and Blogs
Ruben Gallego and Mary Rose Wilcox
They're lobbing their attacks across all social media platforms, and why not? It's cheaper than mailing out old-school glossy attack postcards to potential voters.
The melee involves a state senator questioning whether Ruben Gallego, one of Wilcox competitors in the race to win Arizona's Seventh Congressional District, was going to kill someone at the State Capitol; an advocate for gun violence victims accusing Wilcox and her husband hijacking a peaceful rally; and an anonymous blogger questioning Gallego's true stance on gun law reform.
You could argue it started when Mary Rose Wilcox, a candidate for Arizona Seventh Congressional District, called on June 13 for an end to gun violence in the wake of the deadly shooting at Mother of Mercy Mission church that claimed the life of Father Kenneth Walker.
A victim of gun violence herself -- Wilcox was shot in 1997 while serving as a board supervisor reportedly over her vote on a baseball stadium tax -- said "let's all do our part to support the victims and put an end to gun violence in our community once and for all."
That same day, Markos "kos" Moulitsas, publisher/founder of the liberal blog Daily Kos, posted a resounding endorsement of former state Representative Ruben Gallego, Wilcox's most notable opponent.
On June 24, Gallego tweeted that he "fought to keep guns away from our schools and out of public buildings," with a link to this statement on his website:
"Congress gave up on gun reform, but Ruben Gallego hasn't. In the state legislature, Ruben fought to keep guns out of our schools and public buildings. In Congress, Ruben will fight for common sense gun laws like expanding universal background checks, an assault weapons ban and gun buyback programs."
Senator Robert Meza chimed in on Twitter with a biting public reminder that Gallego himself had toted a gun into the State Capitol -- an obviously public building.
"But @RubenGallego why did you bring a gun to the #azleg State Capitol? Were you going to shoot someone?" And, that same day, a Wilcox supporter posted under the name Chiltepin, a response to the endorsement: "Mary Rose Wilcox--Gun Reform You can Believe in for Az-07!" to Daily Kos' touting how Wilcox was a true advocate for gun laws reform, and highlighting Gallego's track record voting in favor of pro-gun laws and his favorable NRA rating.
Chiltepin recapped that Wilcox initiated and championed "gun buyback programs in the 1980's, in 1996 and 1998, and again in 2012, as the Arizona Legislature was busy passing SB1241, an NRA-Sponsored piece of legislation that mandated that weapons seized in crimes be sold to Gun Dealers rather than be destroyed. Ruben voted for and supported that bill, as he has several others put forward by the NRA in recent years. A former NRA Member, he enjoyed a 75% Rating from the Gun Lobby in 2012."
That same year, he supported HB2640, which removed limits on the size of magazines for hunting rifles. Even worse---the year before, immediately on the heels of the horrendous Mass Shooting in Tucson that left a bloody and deadly trail and nearly claimed the life of Rep. Gaby Giffords, he voted for HB2645, again an NRA product, that would permit Mentally Ill persons who had been prohibited from firearm possession to regain that privilege.
These are strange priorities for a man who would now wrap himself in the cloak of a "Commonsense Gun Law Reformer." This pattern of supporting NRA-sponsored Gun Legislation would be remarkable under any circumstances, but is even more noteworthy when you know that, in three years and two months in the Arizona Legislature, initiated and passed not one single bill. Not one.
The following day, this time on Facebook, Jennifer Longdon weighs in on the issue favoring Gallego.
Longdon, a Phoenix activists who testifies for gun control at the Arizona Legislature and advocates for people with disabilities since a random act of gun violence in 2004 left her paralyzed, recounted what she described as reprehensible behavior by Wilcox and her husband, Earl, at a "loose network of gun violence survivors" at Senator Jeff Flake's Phoenix office.
We were there to deliver 10,000 Not One More postcards and we were joined by two advocates who are known nationally, Erica Lafferty, daughter of the Sandy Hook principal who was killed about a year and half ago and Richard Martinez, who buried his son Christopher 3 weeks ago after the shooting in Isla Vista, CA. Our intent was for a quiet, low-key event without any shouting.
We could never have expected that our event would be hijacked by a political campaign looking for a photo op. It started with a tall man who came up and started shouting NRA! NRA! Most of us learned after the event that this man was Earl Wilcox, husband of one of the candidates for the AZ07 race.
While Earl was causing a disruption that brought building security outside, Mary Rose grabbed Rich Martinez by the sleeve and pulled him over in front of the cameras and talked animatedly for some time. Her entourage blocked our access to regain control of our event and get back on schedule. Our participants kept asked who Mary Rose was and what she was doing. She's never showed up at any of our other events so the survivors didn't recognize her.
Earl continued to disrupt our event with his shouting about NRA and extended magazines to the point that his antics triggered a PTSD response in some survivors ... By contrast, Ruben Gallego was also there with Ruben Alonzo. When they arrived, no one had to ask who they were based on their long history of working with our network. They didn't come as a campaign.
Earl Wilcox went after Gallego for attending the event, yelling and baiting him throughout our event. Earl also yelled at the event's organizers (Daniel and Jocelyn) when he found out Mary Rose couldn't speak ... Mary Rose again tried to push around me to join Erica and Rich inside Senator Flake's office for another photo op. Someone (I don't remember who) really had to be loud to help me resume my place in our planned event.
It's now Tuesday, I'm still getting calls from folks present who were upset with the behavior of the Wilcox campaign as they tried to hijack our peaceful event. These people feel wounded and violated by the behavior of both Mary Rose and Earl."
Got a tip? Send it to: Monica Alonzo.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Phoenix New Times' biggest stories.