Giffords’ October Surprise

Sure, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords has captured the endorsement of the Tucson Weekly, the Arizona Republic, the Arizona Daily Star and the Tucson Citizen in her race against Republican Tim Bee. But she was saving the big one for now–just one week before the Nov. 4 election.

That’s right: Giffords, who is married to astronaut Mark Kelly, is the cover girl on the November issue one magazine that every politico is eager to land in the final stretch: Military Spouse.

This is what we in the biz call a game-changer. Bee is finished now, unless he can send his wife Grace off to an accelerated session of space camp.

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

Bee’s Latest Financial Report: $185K

Republican Tim Bee has turned in his latest financial reports with the FEC. The numbers show him once again trailing Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

Bee reports raising $185,183 in the most recent period, which ended Sept. 30. That brings his total haul for the campaign to $1,426,833—or less than half of the $3 million that Giffords has raised.

Bee has spent $1,360,646 on the campaign to date, according to the report.

As noted earlier today, Giffords 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.

We’ll have a complete report on tonight’s Giffords-Bee debate tomorrow. Spoiler warning: It was no game-changer, although Bee’s support for teaching creationism in science courses came as a surprise to us.

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.

Let No Man Tear Asunder: Arizona’s New Debate on Gay Marriage

Kelly Frieders is a Christian, a registered Republican and a straight, married mother of 10-year-old triplets. On paper, Frieders should be a supporter of state Sen. Tim Bee’s run for the U.S. House against Democratic incumbent Gabrielle Giffords.

Instead, Frieders is angry at Bee, because of his efforts to get Proposition 102 on the ballot, a legislature-produced measure sponsored by Bee to constitutionally define marriage in Arizona as legally being between one man and one woman.

Frieders says she doesn’t agree with supporters of Prop 102, who want to make the proposed amendment a religious issue.

“I’m really disappointed. I’m really upset with the direction the Republican Party has gone. I’m a Republican because I believe in less government and being financially conservative. Seems to me Prop 102 is about more government, not less,” Frieders says.

Frieders and others against Prop 102 are also upset that Bee and Continue reading

Political Theater: Giffords and Bee Play the National Issues on the Local Political Stage

When Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords steamrolled to victory over Republican Randy Graf in the Congressional District 8 race two years ago, the contest was one of the most closely watched in the nation.

But this year, as Giffords faces a challenge from state Sen. Tim Bee, all the political air seems to be taken up by a presidential race that has lately been caught up in controversies over lipstick and earmarks.

It’s not that Bee isn’t a credible opponent. As president of the state Senate, he’s a serious threat to Giffords’ political survival. But Bee’s great political strengths–his ability to deal with fellow pols 1-on-1 and maneuver behind closed doors–don’t always translate well on the campaign trail.

With early voting starting in just a few weeks, the GOP team is introducing us to a new Tim Bee who is remarkably similar to the presidential ticket of John McCain and Sarah Palin–a reformer with results, a maverick who has been willing to stand up to his own party. It’s not a bad narrative to roll out, especially since it’s 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

Test Study: Why Are Politicians Afraid To Tell You Where They Stand?

Every election year, political candidates are asked one simple question: “Are you willing to tell the citizens your positions on the issues?”

Most answer “No.”

The Political Courage Test, a survey administered by Project Vote Smart, asks candidates—from presidential hopefuls to your neighborhood representative—to tell the voters where they stand on a range of serious policy options facing the nation.

But candidates fear that the information will become one-stop shopping for opposition research–because it’s happened in the past.

As Nintzel explained a few months ago in a Tucson Weekly article on Project Vote Smart:

…the percentage of politicians willing to complete the survey has been falling in almost every election cycle. In 1996, 72 percent of congressional candidates completed the survey; in 2006, only 48 percent did. Almost three out of four incumbents ignored the request in 2006.

Why the reluctance to take the Political Courage Test? Because the Project Vote Smart survey has become one-stop shopping for campaigns to do opposition research. As a result, political strategists discourage candidates from completing the survey, warning that it could come back to haunt them.

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who refused to fill out the survey for her 2006 campaign, says she’s concerned that her responses would be used against her.

“I applaud what they do, because they do provide a pretty good scorecard,” Giffords says. “But most often, those scorecards get used against you. … I want to make sure I’m not giving my opponent ammunition to be used against me.”

Giffords has only filled out Continue reading

No Reservations: Will Bee Get Help From NRCC?

Bad news for Republican Tim Bee’s congressional campaign against Democrat Gabrielle Giffords in Congressional District 8: Politico is reporting that the National Republican Congressional Committee has reserved ad time for the first round of television spots–and Bee is not on the rather short list.

From the report: “GOP lawmakers will focus more money and manpower on protecting their own this fall than on chipping away at the Democrats’ majority.”

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has already reserved roughly $700K in advertising time to help Giffords, although they could cancel that buy.

Politico notes that more money could be flowing to neglected campaigns before Election Day:

The NRCC is breaking from tradition somewhat by reserving early airtime; in past election cycles — when Republicans typically outraised Democrats by significant margins — the committee would wait until later in the cycle to maintain an element of surprise.

NRCC Chairman Tom Cole, a veteran campaign operative, has done what he can to stretch a dollar since it became clear that Republicans had lost their fundraising edge.

By making its reservations early, the NRCC tips its hand to surrogates, like Freedom’s Watch, that have more money to spend on the air this fall. That should help the campaign committee spread the financial burden.

House Republicans outraised the DCCC last month — $9.19 million compared with $6 million — for the first time since they lost control of the chamber. But the Democrats still have more than $40 million more in the bank than the Republicans do.

Bee Gets Endorsement From Vets for Freedom

Some good news for Republican Tim Bee’s congressional campaign against Democrat Gabrielle Giffords in Congressional District 8: Bee picked up the endorsement of Vets for Freedom, a political action committee representing Iraq war veterans.

Earlier this month, Giffords announced the formation of Veterans for Giffords and aired a TV ad touting her support for veterans.

Here’s the release from Vets for Freedom:

(Washington DC) As the largest Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans organization in America, Vets for Freedom is proud to announce its support of Tim Bee for the 8th Congressional District in Arizona.  Senator Bee is and always has been a strong supporter of America’s Armed Forces.  As President of the Arizona State Senate, Tim has Continue reading

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