Feathered Bastard

County GOP Chair A.J. LaFaro Wants His Own Cult, and Puente's Carlos Garcia Gets a Reason to Vote

A lot of Latinos are ticked by President Barack Obama's decision to delay any further executive orders on immigration until after the election.

But let's be honest, with the U.S. Senate up for grabs in a handful of close races around the country, to have done otherwise would've been foolhardy.

Obama's delay may not save the Senate from falling to the Republicans, but while there's still a chance to retain the upper chamber, why hand the GOPers a 9-­iron to whack the Democrats with?

I just returned from a visit to my home state of North Carolina, where vicious Tea Party Republican Thom Tillis is about four points behind incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Kay Hagan, according to an average of recent polls by RealClearPolitics.com, which rates the race a tossup.

Obama's negatives are high in the Tar Heel State, as they are in the other states where Senate seats are in play. In such races, GOPers are linking Dems to Obama every chance they get.

So, as much as I personally would like for Obama to use his executive powers to offer some relief to an immigrant community living in fear, doing so a couple of weeks after November 4 makes sense to me.

I agree that both Obama and the Democratic Party he leads have betrayed Latinos time and again by playing Bad Santa, promising a bountiful Christmas and delivering Ash Wednesday instead.

In this regard, the recent protest of the Arizona Democratic Party Headquarters by the pro-­immigrant group Puente certainly is understandable.

During the demonstration, Puente blasted the Democrats as the "deportation party." And Puente organizer Carlos Garcia, who has suggested a boycott of the election, explained to videographer Dennis Gilman why Latinos don't show up to vote as much as Anglos and African­-Americans do.

"Latinos don't vote," Garcia told Gilman, "not because they don't want to or they're stupid or for any other reason. They don't vote because they have nothing to vote for."

Garcia is a smart guy, but that last line is asinine.

According to a 2013 analysis by the National Journal, if eligible Latino voters in Arizona had cast ballots at the same rate as Anglos and African-­Americans in 2012, it would have meant an additional 217,000 votes, almost all of them for Dems.

Such a change would turn the politics of this state upside down.

Already, Arizona is heading in that direction. A report in March from Latino Decisions and America's Voice predicted that by 2029 Arizona will become a majority-­minority state, with Latinos making up 44 percent of the total population by 2050.

No wonder state Republicans are big on voter suppression.

In fact, I would argue that Arizona's egregious immigrant-­bashing legislation, Senate Bill 1070, was all about driving Latinos in general from the state, whether documented, undocumented, able to vote, or unable to vote.

In other words, the Republicans don't need any help, which is exactly what Latinos staying home on Election Day does.

What good will it be if Arizona becomes a majority-­minority state but bigoted whites still rule?

On a more immediate level, there is most certainly a reason for Latinos to vote for Fred DuVal for governor.

DuVal has promised that his first act as governor would be to reverse Governor Jan Brewer's prohibition of driver's licenses for DREAMers who qualify for the president's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

This would mean that more than 20,000 young men and women in Arizona who already have qualified for DACA would be able to drive to work and school.

It also would mean an end to the state's expensive defense of Brewer's hateful policy in federal court, which has cost taxpayers $1.48 million so far, according to my latest tally of invoices from the law firm Fennemore Craig in Arizona DREAM Act Coalition v. Brewer, paid by the Arizona Department of Transportation.

That's not to mention the money the state would make if it dropped the policy like a hot rock and let these law-abiding DACA-recipients purchase licenses.

At $25 per head, that would equal $500,000 at a time when the state's coffers are bone dry.

I don't care if your skin is brown, black, white, or purple, that's good enough reason to vote D this year as any.

Moving right along, I would like to state for the record that Maricopa County Republican Committee chair A.J. LaFaro has never let me down.

Back in 2013, on the eve of the vote that elevated him to that office, I likened LaFaro to a walking PayDay bar while offering him my sincere endorsement for the chairmanship.

Admittedly, I suffer from a self-­diagnosed case of cognitive dissonance. For while I acknowledge the benefit of having sane individuals at the helm of the state GOP, right-­wing wack­jobs such as LaFaro make for far better copy and help guarantee both job satisfaction and job security for yours truly.

As party chair, LaFaro has justified my faith in his nuttiness, whether it's been his calling Governor Brewer a Republican "Judas" because of her Medicaid expansion plan, his successful drive to have U.S. Senator John McCain censured at this year's mandatory state party meeting, or his desire to close the Arizona Republican primary to Independents, supposedly because doing so will preserve the purity of the party's message.

See, LaFaro is opposed to anything that might mean the dilution of his own power and the power of the ideologically driven faction he leads, known simply as the "crazies."

Along these lines, LaFaro recently submitted a complaint to the Arizona Secretary of State's Office about the efforts of a pro-­McCain group to influence the election of precinct committeemen during the primary.

PCs choose a party's leadership. And the crazy faction LaFaro represents has recruited beaucoup Teabagger PCs over the past few years, allowing it to solidify its control over both the county and state Republican parties.

The Secretary of State's Office rejected LaFaro's complaint. In a quote to the on the subject, LaFaro claimed the pro-McCain group's work at moderating the PC pool was an attempt to "ethnically cleanse" the party.

LaFaro's remark earned him a rebuke from state party chair Robert Graham. But LaFaro, an ally of Mexican-­hating loser Russell Pearce, knows a thing or two about "cleansing" his party of people he considers undesirable.

In the MCRC's daily newsletter, LaFaro recently promised that he and his minions will be drawing up a list of GOP committeemen who have committed treason by "endorsing and supporting non-­Republicans."

These enemies of the people will be subject to retaliation, according to LaFaro, who promises to remove their voting rights as PCs and censure them in accordance with MCRC bylaws.

But LaFaro may end up choking on that plug of tobacco.

Longtime Republican activist, blogger and PC Barbara Espinosa, who supports DuVal for governor, immediately returned fire, noting that she has given more than $30,000 to Republican candidates over the years. Though, this election cycle, she's donated $1,000 to DuVal.

Espinosa mercilessly ridiculed LaFaro's threat in her blog American Freedom by Barbara, pointing to a legal opinion offered by Republican Rick Romley, when he was county attorney, that the county GOP rule cited by LaFaro conflicts with state law.

"From Republicans' point of view," she told me recently via e­mail, "if a drug cartel lord ran for office and had an R next to [his or her] name and a minister ran and had a D next to his, I'm supposed to support the Republican."

She concluded: "Not a snowball's chance in Hell will I fall in line."

Espinosa, from Texas originally, has crossed swords with LaFaro and the county party before -- and won.

Earlier this year, after she purchased a handful of domain names featuring the words "Maricopa County Republican Committee," LaFaro accused her of "criminal activity" in an online screed, and the MCRC threatened to sue her.

But Espinosa ultimately won the tussle, both because LaFaro's accusation was bull and because she had the cash to go to court if necessary, unlike the county GOP.

LaFaro published an abject apology.

Don't get me wrong, A.J., your antics are hella amusing to write about.

But if I were you, pardner, I wouldn't be messin' with a rich lady from Texas.

Unless you like the feel of her boot on your backside.

E­mail [email protected].

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