No Game-Changer: A Delayed LiveBlog of the Giffords-Bee Debate on Education

6:30 p.m.: An hour before the debate, I notice a Giffords side by the side of Prince Road. And then another. And another. The Giffords camp has sunk signs everywhere they could along a three-mile stretch of Prince Road leading to the debate at Flowing Wells High School.

As I arrive at Flowing Wells, I notice that the homes across the street have Giffords plastered all over their fences.

This is a repeat of the first debate, when Giffords’ volunteers plastered campaign signs all over the UA and the nearby area with signs. I’m struck by the fact that the Bee campaign hasn’t tried to counter this “shock and awe” strategy.

7 p.m.: Sen. Tim Bee arrives, getting a crowd of about 20 GOP kids excited. “Tim Bee!” the youth brigade chants. Bee starts to approach his fans, but gets pulled away by his handlers.

7:05 p.m.: Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords arrives. The Bee Youth Brigade boo loudly, then begin chanting Bee’s name again.

7:25 p.m.: The crowd—such as it is—continues to trickle in. Turnout is about equal to the number of folks who turned out to see state Senate candidates Al Melvin and Cheryl Cage debate. Several people blame the low turnout on the fact that tonight is also the final McCain-Obama debate. That’s an apt metaphor for this entire race, which has been almost completely overshadowed by national events.

7:30 p.m.: Mike Love, chair of the Flowing Wells School Board, takes the stage. In Michael Scott fashion, he launches into a long-winded introduction of the people who will be questioning the candidates, who include Mark Kimble of the Tucson Citizen, Bud Foster of KOLD-TV, and a teacher.

7:42 p.m.: Love is finally done introducing the moderators and running through their career highlights. Members of the audience are grateful the debate is about to begin—but no! Love then Continue reading

The Final Debate: Giffords Meets Bee Tonight! Plus: Giffords Campaign Surpasses the $3 Million Mark While DCCC Pulls Out of CD8

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords faces Republican challenger Tim Bee tonight in the last scheduled debate of the Congressional District 8 race. We’re not sure how it got scheduled on the same night as the presidential debate, but you can see the throwdown at 7:30 p.m. at Flowing Wells High School, 3725 N. Flowing Wells Road.

Speaking of the CD8 race: We hear the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is pulling out of the CD8 air war. Last week, the DCCC aired its most brutal hit against Bee yet, leading Giffords to say that she’d like the committee to yank the ad. The DCCC, which had reserved roughly $700K in advertising time, is now canceling what it can, although it will be running an ad accusing Bee of having a big ol’ crush on President George W. Bush on at least one station that wouldn’t let the committee out of its contract.

Maybe DCCC officials’ feelings were hurt by Giffords’ request that they pull the ad, but we imagine it has more to do with polling that shows Giffords is far enough ahead that they can safely spend their money elsewhere.

More good news for Giffords: Stuart Rothenberg of the Rothenberg Report has upgraded the CD8 race from “leans Democrat” to “Democrat favored.”

Finally, new campaign finance reports are due today. Giffords has reported that she raised more than $330,000 in the most recent period, which puts her over the $3 million mark for the entire campaign. She has spent more than $2.4 million.

Bee has not yet filed for this period.

LD30 Debate

The LD30 Clean Elections debate last Thursday between House of Representatives candidates Democrat Andrea Delasandro and Republicans David Gowan and Frank Antenori didn’t bring people out in droves; nor did the Senate race between Rep. Jonathan Paton and Democrat Georgette Valle.  But, for all you political junkies who didn’t attend, roll up your sleeve and tie off your arm: Here comes your fix.

House of Representatives

Moderator Dave Irwin gave the candidates two-and-a-half-minutes for opening statements.  We’ll give them a paragraph and a picture.

“Mr. Anetori,” who didn’t bother to correct the moderator’s mispronounciation of his name, went first. He told the fewer than 50-person crowd of mostly over 50-year-old voters that “the state is broken” and the most important thing for Arizona right now is getting the budget back on track, without gimmicks like traffic cameras. He called for employer sanctions and said we’ve got to deal with the education problem. He supports merit pay for teachers.

Next up was David Gowan, who thanked the voters who supported him in the primary election and mentioned his history, family, education and volunteer service with the Boy Scouts. He said we’ve got to take control of the state budget and the border and he believes in competition and merit pay for teachers.

Democrat Andrea Dalessandro said she wants to be part of the new delegation going to Phoenix.  She told the crowd that her humble childhood and work as a CPA makes her uniquely experienced to handle the budget. She calls for problem solving over politics and says protecting education is her top priority because “although children and young people are only part of our population, they are 100 percent of our future.”

Highlights from the House

What would your priority be in fixing the state budget?

Dalessandro says she wouldn’t cut back in schools but would make other necessary cuts, starting with the House speaker’s slush fund.

Antenori says most people think “politicians are good for two things–spending your money and asking for more. I’m not that kind of politician.” He calls legislators Continue reading

The Great CD8 Debate: A Ridiculously Delayed Liveblog of the Giffords-Bee Exchange of Soundbites

In case you missed KUAT-TV’s broadcat of the debate between Democrat Gabrielle Giffords and Republican Tim Bee, you can watch it here.

Here’ our liveblog on the event from the week’s TW print edition:

7 p.m.: Moderator Christopher Conover introduces Democrat Gabrielle Giffords and Republican Tim Bee, who both get rousing applause from their fans in the audience.

Giffords explains she’s a third-generation Arizonan, a product of public schools and a former business owner. She mentions her committee assignments (Armed Services, Foreign Affairs, and Science and Technology). She talks about challenges facing the nation: wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, record debt, rising prices for food and gasoline, and stagnant wages. She reaches out to the political middle by saying she’s worked with Democrats, Republicans and independents on issues such as securing the border, fighting the proposed Rosemont mine in the Santa Rita Mountains and improving mental-health services for veterans.

“I am an optimist, and I am a fighter,” Giffords says.

Bee says he’s also a third-generation Arizonan. He talks about growing up on a small farm as the child of a public school teacher and a homemaker. He talks about how he started his own printing business until he was elected to the Arizona Senate. He ticks off his accomplishments: supporting public education, reducing taxes and securing the border. He boasts about “cleaning the place up” once he was elected Senate president, including his decision to fire some longtime staffers who were too close to lobbyists, and his efforts to work with Democrats.

7:06 p.m.: The candidates are asked about energy policy. Bee says the country is too reliant on foreign sources of oil: “We need to drill wherever there are resources here in our country.” He also calls for alternative energy sources that are supported by the free market.

Giffords says the House of Representatives is ready to vote on a compromise Continue reading

Tucson Weekly Investigation Fallout: Higgins Property-Tax Story Hits Airwaves

If you read The Skinny in last week’s Tucson Weekly, you’d know that Mari Herreras broke the story that Republican Joe Higgins, who is challenging Pima County Supervisor Ann Day, was running a commercial trash-hauling business out of a home that he had listed as owner-occupied residential on the property-tax rolls. That translates into a property-tax savings of more than 50 percent and allowed him to take advantage of a special tax rebate for homeowners who aren’t renting out their homes.

We have to thank Mark Kimble of the Tucson Citizen for bringing up the story on KUAT-TV’s Arizona Illustrated last week in the debate between Day and Higgins. The mainstream media often ignores TW’s reporting, so it was great to see Kimble step up and acknowledge the importance of our investigation.

Day took advantage of the exchange to take some shots at her opponent. She also mentioned another story broken by TW and ScrambleWatch: Higgins’ failure to vote in most primaries, city elections and bond elections over the last two decades.

KUAT has been posting the debates online, so if you missed it, you can see it here.

Higgins has responded with press releases downplaying the property-tax mix-up and accusing Day of going negative.

Here’s Mari Herreras’ original piece from last week’s Skinny:

When Republican Joe Higgins first announced his campaign against Pima County Supervisor Ann Day for her District 1 seat in the upcoming Sept. 2 GOP primary, the Tucson businessman said he was inspired to run because of the rising property taxes.

Those high tax bills might explain why Higgins is running his commercial trash-hauling business out of a property that he has listed as “owner-occupied residential” with the Pima County Assessor’s Office.

In 2006, when Higgins bought the property at 1520 N. 15th Ave., along with a vacant lot next door where he parks his garbage trucks, he indicated on documents filed with the county that the house would remain owner-occupied.

That netted him a nice savings of more than 50 percent on the property-tax bill, because he was able to keep the residential tax rate and enjoy a special education tax rebate Continue reading

Televised Debate: Valadez vs. Robuck

Tune into Arizona Illustrated tonight to see Pima County Supervisor Ramon Valadez take on Robert Robuck, his challenger in the Sept. 2 Democratic primary. Your moderators are Arizona Illustated anchor Bill Buckmaster and Tucson Weekly senior writer Jim Nintzel.

The show airs at 6:30 p.m. on Channel 6 and repeats Tuesday morning at 12:30 and 5:30 a.m.

You can also watch the debate online.

Televised Debate: Democrats Phil Lopes, Olivia Cajero Bedford and John Kromko

If you missed last night’s Legislative District 27 debate with Democrats Phil Lopes, Olivia Cajero Bedford and John Kromko on KUAT-TV, you can watch it here.

Today’s Political Action: Candidates Square Off in Debates!

Two big events for those of you who are not going to out to Tucson Electric Park for the very last buck-beer night, seeing as how we’ve lost our Triple-A Sidewinders to Reno after this season.

The Democratic candidates in Legislative District 27—Reps. Phil Lopes and Olivia Cajero Bedford and challenger John Kromko—will meet on KUAT-TV’s Arizona Illustrated at 6:30 p.m. on Channel 6. Moderators will be Arizona Illustrated anchor Bill Buckmaster and Tucson Weekly senior writer Jim Nintzel. The program repeats at 12:30 and 5:30 a.m. Friday, July 25.

If you’re craving live action, you can catch the four GOP candidates running for two House seats in Legislative District 30—Sharon Collins, Frank Antenori, Doug Sposito and David Gowan—at a Clean Elections debate at 7 p.m. at the PCC District Office, 4905 E. Broadway.

No Kromko Tonight!

Sorry, folks: The Legislative District 27 Clean Elections debate between Democrats Phil Lopes, Olivia Cajero Bedford and John Kromko originally scheduled for this evening has been postponed until Tuesday, July 22.

But there is a debate between Pima County Supervisor Sharon Bronson and her Democratic opponent, Donna Branch-Gilby at the Pima County Democratic Party’s Nucleus Club get-together at 5:30 tonight at the Viscount Suite Hotel, 4855 E. Broadway. The downside: It’s a private get-together, so it will cost you $20 unless you can find a member of the Nucleus Club to invite you as a guest.

Hershberger Vs. Melvin: A Slightly Delayed Liveblog

As we’ve mentioned before, Legislative District 26, where Republicans Pete Hershberger and Al Melvin are fighting for a Senate seat in the Sept. 2 primary, is in the ScrambleWatch spotlight. The two candidates squared off in a Clean Elections debate last night.

Although the district leans Republican, Democrat Charlene Pesquiera won LD26 in 2006 by fewer than 500 votes over Melvin. Melvin had ousted Sen. Toni Hellon in the GOP primary two month earlier with a campaign that accused her of being too liberal; he hopes to give Hershberger the same treatment this year.

Hershberger counters that he’s in step with the voters of the district, which stretches from Saddlebrooke through Oro Valley and across the Catalina Foothills. Hershberger has represented LD26 in the House of Representatives for eight years. He argues that Melvin can’t win a general election in the district.

Here’s a slightly delayed liveblog of key debate moments:

7:05 p.m.: Moderator David Bartlett skips the standard introductory question that lets candidates talk about who they are and jumps right into the issue of illegal immigration by asking whether the candidates support Arizona’s employer sanctions law.

Melvin says securing the border is the first step in his five-point plan to improve Arizona. “We need to enforce all of our existing laws and when we do that, we will get control of the illegal immigrant situation and and we’ll start to save the $2 billion a year that it’s costing Arizona taxpayers.”

Hershberger says he supports “the toughest employer sanctions bill in the country” and calls for more border security and some kind of guest-worker program. “We will continue to work on this issue,” he promises.

7:09 p.m.: Hershberger cites this year’s budget as an example of legislative success because it bridged a shortfall of more than $2 billion. “We did in a bipartisan way,” Hershberger says. “We did a combination of things to pass a budget that’s still going to maintain a vision for Arizona.”

He laments that the Legislature still deals with too many “contentious issues that distract us from the business at hand and I wish that we could get beyond that.”

7:10 p.m.: Melvin takes his first direct shot at Hershberger. “I have to disagree with my opponent,” he salvoes. “In the eight years that he’s been in the House, we’ve had bloated budgets and not enough tax cuts.”

Melvin points out that only four Republicans in the House and four Republicans in the Senate voted for this year’s budget. “They passed a Democratic budget and it’s a crying shame and it’s not the first time it’s happened.”

Melvin also zings Hershberger for opposing the permanent repeal of the state’s property tax, which raises $250 million a year. “When I get to Phoenix, I will not raise taxes. I’ll cut them and I promise that I will,” he vows.

7:13 p.m.: Melvin lays out his five-point program for Arizona: securing Continue reading

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