Several of the candidates for House of Representatives in LD29 met at a bar on Thursday night to talk over their differences.
The meeting, organized by Tucson Drinking Liberally, was originally marketed on the website as an “LD29 Candidate ‘Speed Dating’ Forum” but since most of the candidates got cold feet, it was just another night drinking and talking politics at The Shanty.
The three candidates who did make the date each gave a short speech and took questions from the rowdy crowd of a few dozen political junkies.
Representative Tom Prezelski started off the event and, though he didn’t appear tipsy, his tongue was definitely loose. His relaxed performance included calling a Republican lawmaker a dick and one candidate from another district “full of shit.”
Besides bashing the Legislature, he called for reform of Health Care Group and explained the benefits of bonding for school construction, invoking his experience as a tribal planner and the example of Sunnyside High School, which he says was built cheaply, piece by piece as the money became available, and now needs to be totally rebuilt.
Next up on the microphone was Ephraim Cruz, who gave a speech playing to his experience in law enforcement. He told stories of a beer run he witnessed where the cops never responded, a campaign volunteer who was shot in a random act of violence, and a friend who had to wait three days for the cops to take a report about his stolen car. He told the crowd that police involvement in immigration issues strains an already under-resourced police force.
He also said that in this day and age, there should be more ways for children to anonymously report suspicious classmates, including e-mail and text messaging, in order to cut school violence.
The only woman on this non-date was Patti Puig, who took this opportunity to mention that while animal abuse is a big problem and programs to prevent it need more funding, it does not top the need for funding of health care or education.
Puig said TUSD needs to keep the ethnic studies program and mentioned she was hoping for an endorsement from the Humane Society.
The Tucson chapter of Drinking Liberally, a national organization of Democrats discussing politics in bars, meets every Thursday at The Shanty on Fourth Avenue starting at 6 p.m. and ending when it’s over or the bar closes. Most nights it’s an informal place to relax, have a few beers, and talk politics with left-leaning pundits and politicians. Occasionally they have speakers, events or heated arguments.
The LD29 speed-dating event was scheduled back in July but, for various reasons, four of the seven Democratic candidates didn’t make it.
Daniel Patterson said that at this point in the race, canvassing to the voters is more important. He told organizers that he would try to come after it got too dark to knock on doors, but hadn’t shown by the time the other candidates started clearing out, sometime before 10 p.m.
Matt Heinz, who says he was the first candidate to RSVP to the invitation, was told by organizers on Wednesday that only one other candidate had RSVPed and therefore the forum would be impossible. The mix-up caused him to miss the forum, but he says he spoke to the group a few months ago and will “get back there after the primary.”
But by Thursday night, organizers were also expecting Eric Carbajal-Bustamante to make an appearance at the forum. But by the time the candidates were clearing out, he hadn’t shown.
Also absent was candidate Gil Guerra, who lost his shot at $19,000 in campaign money when he didn’t attend the Clean Elections debate.
“I don’t like drinking and talking in bars,” said Guerra. “That’s not where the voters are.”