Feathered Bastard

Arizona Democratic Party's Wacky Mailer for Nick Coons

I agree with Espresso Pundit's Greg Patterson about as often as I agree with state Senate President-elect Russell Pearce, which is, almost never. 

But he exposed an ugly little problem with the Arizona Democrats recently that I've seen get zero play on liberal blogs, so I think it's worth mentioning here, particularly in light of what I had to say in my recent Bird column lambasting the local donkey-kongs.

The issue at hand is this mailer sent out by the Arizona Dems on behalf of Nick Coons, the Libertarian candidate for Congress in CD5. The text states that Coons will "repeal Obama's health care plan," and touts the Libertarian as "the Conservative choice for Congress."

It even features a pic of President Obama hanging his head. An odd message for local Dems to be promulgating, at first glance.

Arizona Democratic Party spokeswoman Jennifer Johnson said she couldn't tell me how much the mailers cost, but she denied that the party was slamming the nation's top Democrat in them.

"If you look at it closely, it doesn't slam Obama," she explained. "Basically what it does is lay out [Coons'] positions. If you agree with those positions, then you could see it that way. If you didn't agree with those positions, then you wouldn't want to vote for him."

True, the mailer is artfully worded. Obviously, it was intended to peel conservative votes away from Republican David Schweikert, but it didn't do much in that regard. Schweikert pummeled Congressman Harry Mitchell 52-43 percent. Even if Mitchell had garnered Coons' 4.7 percent, Schweikert would still have won.

Johnson said the mailer was targeted, that it wasn't sent to all of CD5, but that "the number was in the thousands in the terms of who it went to."

Whatever the party spent on it, it raises questions as to how some of the millions in party coffers were allocated. I'm hearing from a lot of candidates who say they received little or no help from the party during this cycle. A targeted mailer would have been manna from heaven for some of the smaller fish in the ever-shrinking Democratic pond.

Just one example: Andrew Sherwood, the Dem who ran against bigot-boy Pearce in LD18. The party pretty much ceded the race to Pearce, despite the fact that Sherwood ran a solid campaign.

I asked Sherwood what sort of help he got from the state party.

"What the party's very good at is helping candidates cultivate their own opportunities and candidate training," he replied. "If you're talking about did they put in foot soldiers, did they put in big bankrolls, no."

But we're not even talking about big bankrolls, we're talking about any roll. Maybe even a muffin. Or a cruller. You know, something. After all, the guy was running against the Dems' bete noir, the primary pusher of SB 1070.

What about a mailer targeting Pearce in some way? Could Sherwood have used the help? He laughed when I asked this question.

"That's funny," he said. "Yes, we could have used the help."

For too long, the state party has written off the state legislature, mainly by not assisting its own people, particularly if those candidates have tough races.

Sure, Sherwood was a dark horse, but the Dems have to make some effort to expand the party beyond the traditional confines of state Senator-elect Kyrsten Sinema's district. And Sherwood isn't the only Dem that could have used some crumbs from the Democrat's well-laden buffet table.

The next Democratic state committee meeting is November 20 at the Wyndham Hotel in Phoenix, where the party will debrief. Then on January 22, the party will make a decision on its current leadership. 

Hopefully, Dems will be thinking about the way the party's money is being spent, among other issues. Like, maybe developing a message and having a strategy next time around.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons