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.

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Rasmussen: McCain Widens Lead in AZ

Remember all those reports about Arizona being a swing state? Maybe not so much.

A new Rasmussen poll puts John McCain up by 16 points here in Arizona.

The Rasmussen survey that McCain has the support of 52 percent of voters, while Obama has the support of just 36 percent.

A June survey by Rasmussen showed a nine-point gap between the candidates.

The Rasmussen survey also showed that Arizonans are more optimistic about the economy than most of the country. Just under half—47 percent—give Gov. Janet Napolitano good or excellent marks, while 27 percent say she’s doing a poor job.

Here are details in a release from Rasmussen:

John McCain has now stretched his lead over Barack Obama to 16 points — 52% to 36% — in his home state of Arizona, according to a new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey.

Counting “leaners,” the gap is even wider, with McCain ahead 57% to 38%.

In late June, McCain led Obama 49% to 40%. That was the first Arizona survey since Hillary Clinton dropped out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The Republican presidential candidate has won Arizona in every election but one since 1952.

Nationally the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll continues to show a very close race for the White House. On Monday, McCain had a statistically insignificant single point edge, but it’s the first time McCain has enjoyed even a statistically insignificant advantage since Obama clinched the Democratic nomination on June 3.

McCain is now viewed favorably by 71% of Arizona voters, up from Continue reading

AZ = Presidential Swing State?

The New York Times is the latest outlet to question whether Arizona is a swing state in the 2008 presidential contest. We have a hard time swallowing that one, but the McCain campaign did include the Grand Canyon State in his own list of swing states some time back.

The most recent Rasmussen Reports poll of Arizona voters, taken in June, showed McCain leading Obama by 9 percentage points–a dip from a stronger earlier lead of 20 percentage points.

From the Times:

In the sea of uncertainty that defines American politics, presidential candidates have generally been able to count on the residents of their home state, Al Gore’s loss of Tennessee in 2000 being a notable exception.

But a variety of factors have made Mr. McCain’s chances in Arizona less assured than they ordinarily would seem, which his campaign has acknowledged.

The number of independent voters in Arizona has risen 12 percent since 2004, and those voters have helped send a Democrat to the governor’s mansion and given the party four of the state’s eight Congressional seats — including two in 2006, one in a historically Republican district.

At the same time, Arizona Democrats, like many of their counterparts around the country, have outpaced Republicans in voter registration, adding almost 20,000 voters to the rolls since March, compared with the Republican majority’s 8,600 new voters. The second-term Democratic governor, Janet Napolitano, remains wildly popular.

Last month, the McCain campaign startlingly added Arizona to its list of 24 “battleground states,” a fact that state Democrats have clung to like sprinkles on a soft-serve ice cream cone.

“John McCain has striking vulnerabilities here,” said Emily DeRose, spokeswoman for the Arizona Democratic Party. “We are going to take him to the mat. We are not giving him a pass in Arizona.”

Tim Bee’s Campaign Ad

The folks at Sonoran Alliance tipped us off to state Sen. Tim Bee’s new TV ad for his campaign against Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. It’s a slick spot that pushes the family friendly, consensus-building angle–so much so that he doesn’t even mention he’s a Republican; instead, he flashes the word “Independent” in big ol’ type there at the end. What does that say about the GOP brand?

Legislative Candidate Ephraim Cruz: No Comment on Child Support Lawsuit

State House of Representatives candidate and former Border Patrol agent Ephraim Cruz is open to talking about a federal court case in which he beat charges of illegally smuggling an illegal immigrant across the border.

But Cruz, who is one of seven Democrats seeking two House seats in southside Legislative District 29, is not as forthcoming when it comes to a lawsuit in which he had his wages garnished to pay child support. (Note: Although a judge ordered a paternity test in the case, Cruz had taken a paternity test one week after the child’s birth that showed he was the father.)

James Lamb, who is managing Cruz’s campaign, said that Cruz, 35, would have no comment on the legal actions taken against him by the mother of his son, who was born in December 2001.

Pima County Superior Court records show that in February 2004, the Arizona Attorney General’s Office filed suit on behalf of the child’s mother, whom ScrambleWatch ’08 has chosen not to identify. A recent phone number for the woman, who was working as a nurse at the time of the lawsuit against Cruz, has been disconnected.

Judge Pro Tempore Karen Adam ordered Cruz in June 2004 to pay $775.25 a month in child support. That included $698 a month for current support and $75 toward the $15,654 that Cruz owed in payments dating back to the child’s birth, according to court records. (The amount also included $2.25 in administrative costs.)

In August 2004, the Border Patrol was ordered to begin withholding child-support payments from Cruz’s paycheck.

Less than a year later, in October 2005, Cruz requested that the court lower his monthly payments because he had been suspended without pay from the Border Patrol following his federal indictment on charges of smuggling a Mexican national Continue reading

Payday Loan Effort Bounces

Rep. Marian McClure has made it official: She has given up on Stop Payday Loans, an initiative effort she was chairing that would have curtailed the payday lending industry. McClure tells ScrambleWatch she only had about 30,000 signatures and needed more than 153,000 by July 3 to qualify for the November ballot.

Last month, Democratic state Rep. Debbie McCune Davis, who was also leading a team gathering signatures for the effort, announced she was throwing in the towel and instead focusing on defeating a competing proposal sponsored by the payday loan sharks.

That effort—known as the Payday Loan Reform Act—is likely to reach the ballot.

McClure, who has reached her term limit in the House of Representatives and is one of eight Republicans seeking a seat on the Arizona Corporation Commission, says she’ll help with the effort to defeat Payday Loan Reform Act.

McClure says the payday-loan sharks could enact most of the so-called reforms in their plan without any legislation at all.

The real reason they’re pushing a ballot initiative: There’s a sunset clause that automatically repeals the legislation that allowed them to set up shop in the first place, which means they won’t be able to stay in business past 2010 with new legislative approval. And even if they manage to get the Legislature to extend or eliminate that sunset clause, they still need to get Gov. Janet Napolitano to sign the bill.

Opponents of the Payday Loan Reform Act believe they have a better chance of defeating it if there is not a competing measure on the ballot.

Stay tuned to ScrambleWatch for complete coverage of the ballot initiatives when they qualify for the ballot next month!

Recommended Reading: 10 Simple Rules

From time to time, we’ll be posting links to stories in TW’s archives that shed some light about today’s issues or help you better understand Southern Arizona politics.

Our first installment: Campaigning 101: 10 Simple Rules for Running for Office, a piece I wrote before last year’s city election. We hope it will help all the candidates out there improve their game. The illustrations are by Rand Carlson.

Campaigning 101: 10 Simple Rules for Running for Office

Originally published on Nov. 1, 2007

When Tucson voters go to the polls next week, they’ll be filling in the ovals on a pretty lame ballot. With the exception of Proposition 200–the water-and-trash initiative that has the city’s power structure spending three-quarters of a million bucks on an opposition campaign to thwart John Kromko’s latest nitwit scheme–the races have all been about as exciting as your average hour of C-SPAN.

Only one City Council race–the contest between Democrat Rodney Glassman and Republican Lori Oien–has been remotely competitive. Despite a formidable Democratic registration advantage, the closest thing to a Democratic challenger to Republican Mayor Bob Walkup was a homeless guy preoccupied with lasers and Rio Nuevo.

Walkup is now facing a Green Party candidate, Dave Croteau, who says he just doesn’t have the time to learn how the city budget works when we ask him how he’d pay for his various proposals. Croteau says he’ll have people smarter than him explain it all to him after he’s elected.

Don’t sweat it, Dave–there’s not much chance of that happening.

Oh, there we go again, making fun of people. We’ve done that occasionally over the last few months, leading to the usual complaints about how mean we are. (Those are balanced by the complaints that we aren’t mean enough, by the way.)

So we think it is time that we lay out the bare minimums we expect from candidates, and what we’re liable to do, depending on how they approach these items. Future candidates: If you think that the mockery you get for violating these rules is cruel, the response from the mainstream dailies and TV stations will be a lot worse. They’ll just ignore you.

These rules, which we’ve cooked up with help from a few shadowy political-consultant types who would prefer Continue reading