Races To Watch

By admin September 8, 2014 06:00

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Diane Douglas (left) and David Garcia (right)

by: AZL Staff 

With candidates having had a chance for a deep but quick breath after the primary election, the story lines for the Nov. 4 general election are taking shape. It’s safe to expect that some of them will be prove to be incorrect.

Coming out of the gate, a couple of polls are touting the story that it’s neck and neck in the battle of the “Du’s – (Ducey and DuVal) for governor. Democrats say that’s because Republican nominee Doug Ducey was beaten up severely by six opponents trying to catch him in the primary, and that Democrat Fred DuVal avoided having to run to the left in his primary because, well, he had no primary. So Ducey’s negatives are high and DuVal is unwounded and still has dry powder.

All of that is true, and it helps DuVal. What’s also true is that it’s September and the election is in November.  Here’s what Ducey has going for him:

  • Arizona is a reliably red state (not a single Dem in statewide office now; Arizona only voted for a Democratic president once since Harry Truman), and Republicans turn out much more reliably than Democrats even in Big Deal elections.
  • It’s a mid-term election, with no U.S. Senate race in Arizona, and only three contested congressional races – and only one of them is deep in Phoenix, where the votes are.
  • No major propositions will draw out issue voters.
  • An unpopular Democratic president.

DuVal has a resume more than a record, having never been elected to anything (he was appointed to the Board of Regents). He’s positioning himself as a centrist Dem along the lines of Bruce Babbitt (Duval was his chief of staff), and that has worked in Arizona before. So he has a shot, and he’s a smart, attractive candidate who so far hasn’t made any big mistakes. But the tides are not with him.

The nuttiest stat so far came from the DuVal campaign, which said a Democrats do well in governor races every 12 years (Bruce Babbitt, 1978; Terry Goddard, 1990; Janet Napolitano, 2002), so it’s their turn. The problem with that is that Babbitt was the incumbent governor (following the death of Wesley Bolin) in a state that had more Democrats at the time; and Goddard was the over-whelming favorite who lost to businessman Fife Symington (“doing well” when you’re supposed to win is not doing well). Napolitano won a genuine victory for Dems, but one dot on a continuum does not make a trend.

Democrats have the best shot picking up a statewide race in David Garcia, candidate for Superintendent of Schools. He’s up against Tea Party favorite Diane Douglas, a former Peoria school board member whose sole issue seems to be Common Core, a new set of standards being considered for schools in states nationwide.  

She had the good fortune to run in the primary against incumbent John Huppenthal, who bombed himself out of the race with insensitive and anonymous blogs (such as saying Spanish media should be eliminated). Both Douglas and Huppenthal say her victory was all about Common Core, but even if that’s true, it might not matter so much in November.

First of all, Common Core only matters to a slice of the right; most voters don’t even know what it is. Secondly, Garcia has the support of two prominent former Republican superintendents he’s worked for previously, Jaime Molera and Lisa Graham Keegen – who’s certainly no liberal. And the Arizona Republic called Douglas a “single-issue candidate whose depth of knowledge about education rivals a cardboard cutout.”

If Garcia can’t win in November, Democrats can’t win in Arizona. End of debate.




By admin September 8, 2014 06:00

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