Kyrsten Sinema Plays A Mighty Weak Hand With Political Stunt

This is one of those posts that in two years I will re-clipping segments of to underscore what we knew to be true at the beginning pages of the final chapter of Kyrsten Sinema’s political career.

From a strategy point of view, in that Arizona voted Democratic for every major seat in the state this year, the news today that U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema is leaving the Democratic Party, labeling herself instead as an “Arizona independent.” seems like a bad move.  The major players in Washington, while obviously having much to say out of the reach of a microphone, are acting in politeness as she keeps her committee seats and is treated to niceties for acting favorable with the large bills thus far passed in this session of the congress.

But the voices that really matter are those in her home state, where the Democratic Party which knows her best and reviles her most, is already designing the 2024 primary election season which will send a message that she will doubtless then be able to understand.  By weakening her hand with a truly baffling and artlessly played statement today she has likely ceded her role in any future political body.   In other words, her career as a senator is in its waning years.

Republicans were already licking their chops with a vision of capturing her seat and are not going to give her anything that makes her look credible in the coming session.  Democrats will play along to get along as pragmatism in governing is always the smartest way to plow ahead.  But the sleeveless woman now finds herself in the lonely world that fits best in the middle school context.

The kid who eats lunch alone at the far end of the cafeteria.  She knows she could not survive a primary in the Democratic Party but seemingly forgets that she still has to move up and down and over and around the increasing number of political dodgeballs that will plague her in what now will be a never-ending type of nerve-jarring gym class.

Meanwhile, all eyes are on Congressman Ruben Gallego who is one of those ideal candidates Arizona is known for when sending people to the senate.  Famed POW John McCain or astronaut Mark Kelly. The outspoken, bilingual Marine Corps veteran has been quietly assembling a Senate campaign team, and with the bizarre news today Gallego is soon to strike the bell of his entrance as a candidate.

He struck the right tone and approach this morning.  “Whether in the Marine Corps or in Congress, I have never backed down from fighting for Arizonans. And at a time when our nation needs leadership most, Arizona deserves a voice that won’t back down in the face of struggle. Unfortunately, Senator Sinema is once again putting her own interests ahead of getting things done for Arizonans.”

What this all proves is what I have known since entering high school in 1976.  Politics is never, ever boring.

Arizona Vote Count Is Proper, Following Rules

Only because Donald Trump is in a snit over a very unsettling mid-term election does the way Arizona count ballots need to be a news story.  But like with everything else facts show the lighted way.

So here are the facts about counting votes in Arizona.

Facts matter at Caffeinated Politics.

Every election, it takes weeks for Arizona to count its ballots. This cycle the difference is that everyone is paying attention. Note that there is zero evidence of anything unusual going on in the Arizona vote-counting – and no elected Republican officials in the state have cried foul. It is only Trump doing that. Blame the fact that Arizonans like to vote early, by mail. That sounds like a contradiction, but a mailed-in ballot requires more work for Arizona elections officials.

That’s because state law requires the envelope to be sealed and signed, and for elections officials to match each signature to the one on file with the voter’s registration before even opening the envelope. In this election, that’s about 1.7 million individual signatures that had to be confirmed, one-by-one. A total of about 2.3 million votes were cast in Arizona.

The problem comes in the final days when the ballots flood election offices. Voters can also drop off sealed mail ballots on Election Day, adding to the pile. Those ballots can’t be counted that day because the elections office is busy setting up and administering in-person voting.

What Should Our Reaction Be To Nasty Words Against John McCain From Kelli Ward, Arizona Conservative Senate Candidate?

Kelli Ward suggested Saturday that the statement issued Friday by U.S. Sen. John McCain’s family about ending treatment for brain cancer was intended to hurt her U.S. Senate campaign.

McCain died Saturday hours after her remarks.

Ward, a conservative former state senator from Lake Havasu City, is in a three-way race for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination in Tuesday’s Arizona primary.

Writing on Facebook following the news from the McCain family on Friday, Ward wrote, “”I think they wanted to have a particular narrative that they hope is negative to me.”

We all have witnessed many lows in the last number of years when it comes to our politics.  But we all must agree the words from Ward dig deeper into the gutter than many others outrages we have heard of since 2015.

What does one say or think when it comes to such loathsome tactics in our political world?  Perhaps it is best to go back in time to find the response we need.

Eyes On Republican Candidate Debbie Lesko

Things are going to get closer and more problematic for the GOP in 8th CD in Arizona.

It might look like Republicans dodged a disaster in Arizona’s 8th District considering former state senator Steve Montenegro didn’t win Tuesday’s primary. But, as we’ve written before, Republicans seem to find new ways to make these special elections competitive, and Democrats everywhere are excited to send a message to President Donald Trump.

Unlike Montenegro, former state Sen. Debbie Lesko, the GOP nominee, has not received a topless photo from a staffer. But she has been accused of violating campaign finance rules by illegally funneling state funds to a federal race.

Lesko’s rise was fueled by Montenegro hemorrhaging support from local conservative activists when the the Arizona Republic published an expose one week ago on an alleged improper sexual relationship the married father had with a legislative aide while he was still a member of the state Senate. One of the most striking details in the report was the allegation that a topless photo was texted to Montenegro.

It’s unclear whether that will be enough to loosen Republicans’ grip on a district that Trump won by 21 points in 2016. But the trend is clear; Democrats are consistently over-performing, and sometimes it’s enough to win in unlikely places.

At a minimum, the trend demonstrates this race will get more competitive in the weeks ahead. We’re changing our Inside Elections rating from Solid Republican to Likely Republican, and somewhat expect it to get more vulnerable between now and the April 24 election.

Arizona GOP Senate Candidate Kelli Ward Goes Very Ugly Against John McCain

I suspect everyone these days expects the most vile or outrageous comments to be made in the political arena.  At times I wonder if we are losing our sense of being shocked anymore, and in so doing are becoming numb to the bitterness of our culture.   Having said that, however, I cannot fathom anyone not feeling just pure sadness over the statement about Senator John McCain made by a power-hungry candidate running for his seat.

The first reaction that came from my mouth upon reading this news was “Oh, no!”

Arizona U.S. Senate Republican candidate Kelli Ward has firmly stated that she stands by her comments that McCain should resign immediately.

Said Ward: “I think that anybody who is not able to do their job should step aside and allow the process to continue in Washington, D.C., because there is such important work to be done.”

This is a most slimy and contemptible statement and way of thinking.  I readily admit our political process is dysfunctional–there is no doubt about that at all.  But to drop so low into the hole by hammering a cancer-stricken man about giving up his senate seat is gut-wrenching.  Her comment allows us all to see into her character–or lack thereof.

This weekend I started reading Master of the Senate by Robert Caro—need I say Awesome!  The first two chapters give a tour of the history of the Senate and the power it wields–or declines to wield.  The caning of Senator Charles Sumner is written about and one can almost feel the blows from Congressman Brooks.  The reason I mention it here is that Sumner took 3 years to convalesce before returning to the chamber.

Meanwhile Ward is a osteopathic physician which makes her comment all the more distressing.  All we can tell her at this point is Doctor, Heal Thyself!

This is not the first time that Ward has shown no class and only viper-like tendencies when it comes to her craving for a senate seat.

In the event that McCain cannot finish his six-year term, which expires in 2023, the Arizona governor would tap a Republican successor who would face voters in the next general election. That means there is at least a possibility that Arizona voters would elect two U.S. senators in the upcoming 2018 election.

Let us hope that character matters to the voters.

Helping Gay Youth In Arizona

My best friend, Todd Reichert, committed suicide shortly after high school graduation.  We both had been bullied for years and that story of growing up gay in a rural area was one reason I wrote my book, Walking Up The Ramp.  I hoped that in some way at least one other person could be helped to understand things do get better as we grow older.   I am trusting that will be the case for gay youth.

Tuesday a woman from Arizona, her Mom, and a close friend to the family sat for a few hours on our front lawn.  I had met the mother, Shirley Jensen, last summer in our Madison neighborhood and I told her of the book I had authored.    Several weeks ago from her home in Phoenix she wrote asking to visit for a while and sit in the blue Adirondack chairs mentioned in the book.   During her car travels to the Midwest she wrote the following.

During a portion of our long drive I read to her from your book. I read from what I will term the difficult chapter. Tara is volunteering with a nonprofit group in Phoenix that works with GLBTQ teens that have been thrown out of their homes.    She will be facilitating a seminar this fall for that groups leaders. As I was reading to her she decided that she wants to share portions of that chapter at the seminar. All this to say we are anxious to meet and exchange thoughts and to gain your approval for sharing some of your story. 

Yesterday Tara spoke of one young gay man who walked three days to get to an urban center to connect with others and get assistance for living.   I am humbled that she will use portions of my book through her work to underscore the fact that life—even after valleys and pain—can still be made to be successful.  The most difficult chapter I wrote was “Exit Strategy”.  I wrote it to tell my story, Todd’s story, and in so doing perhaps help another young gay person.  I am trusting that my work will make a difference for someone.  I sincerely thank those who extend themselves to make the road less difficult for today’s gay youth.

Same-Sex Marriage Soon Coming To Arizona

What will the sage of Arizona, Jan Brewer, say and do?

Same-sex couples in Arizona could begin applying for marriage licenses in a matter of days. But a few legal hurdles remain.

In legal documents filed Thursday, Republican Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne wrote that he believes a recent appeals-court ruling striking down similar marriage bans in other states applies to Arizona. But he asked U.S. District Court Judge John Sedwick to wait to overturn the law until the appeals court issues its legal mandate.

A mandate instructs courts to go forward with the opinion. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit issued a mandate last week within hours of ruling that marriage laws in Idaho and Nevada violated couples’ rights to equal protection under the 14th Amendment. But the court withdrew its mandate so Idaho could appeal.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer Has Vetoed Anti-Gay Bill

Arizona  Gov. Jan Brewer has vetoed the anti-gay bill.   We fought it, and won!

Why it took so long to do the correct thing is a mystery to those with any common sense and political courage.  There was never a time she was going to sign this once corporations started threatening Arizona’s economy.  You can always count on a Republican to think with their wallet.  And that is a battleground so easy to fight them on with many issues.  I wish, however, Brewer would have been driven by moral convictions when it came to this bill, and would have been able to stand with those who fight for gay civil rights.

But in the end this bill was vetoed and that is the most important thing.