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.

Tucson Weekly Endorsement: Giffords in Congressional District 8

When we endorsed Gabrielle Giffords in 2006, it was a leap of faith based on what we knew about her. As a member of the minority party in the Arizona Legislature, Giffords hadn’t had a chance to build a long list of legislative accomplishments, although we admired her voting record on environmental and health-care issues and her level-headed style.

Two years later, Giffords has proven herself to be a politician in touch with the needs of Southern Arizona.

Giffords stepped up when the Border Patrol wanted to build a massive permanent station on the edge of Green Valley. She stepped up when the Federal Emergency Management Agency wanted to include much of Marana in a floodplain, and she’s earned an enthusiastic endorsement from Marana’s Republican mayor as a result.

That’s real constituent service from an accessible lawmaker. And while Democrats in Congress haven’t been able to accomplish many of their national goals–improving health care, ending the Iraq war, reforming the broken immigration system–the blame for that rests with both parties, not just the Dems.

We respect what Republican Tim Bee has done for Southern Arizona during his time in the Legislature. But much of what we admire about him–his understanding that government can help those less fortunate through education and social services–is lost on most members of his own party. We’re also disappointed with his tacit approval of bigotry by allowing Proposition 102 to get on the ballot.

As we mentioned before, GOP rule of this country has been a disaster. This is not the time to give the keys to Congress back to them.

Courting That Elusive Youth Vote

So is this the year the young’uns finally go out and vote? Who knows? Christopher Beam addressed the question earlier this week over at Slate:

In 2004, the “youth vote” was supposed to break all records. It did and it didn’t—but either way, it didn’t make a difference for John Kerry, even though he won 54 percent of voters under 29. So it is with this year’s youth vote: Even if it exceeds that of four years ago—Barack Obama currently commands about 60 percent of the under-29 cohort—it will be nearly impossible to say whether it made a difference.

On Election Day 2004, kids turned out in record numbers: About 4.6 million more people under the age of 29 voted in 2004 than in 2000. Yet 18- to 29-year-olds accounted for only 17 percent of voters—roughly the same as in 2000—because the geezer vote also grew. As a result, youth mobilization was declared a myth, perhaps unjustifiably. “We rocked the vote all right,” Hunter S. Thompson said at the time. “Those little bastards betrayed us again.”

Here in Tucson, the Giffords campaign is hoping to energize the local youth with a big rock ’n’ show/fundraiser this Saturday, Sept. 20, featuring the always-astonishing Calexico alongside Mariachi Luz de Luna and Jimmy Adkins of Jimmy Eat World. Outside, a whole bunch of non-profits will be setting up shop for an ol’-fashioned political hootenany.

The balcony is sold out, but floor seats are still available, which worries us that the youth in this town aren’t cool enough to rock the vote. C’mon, people, forget the politics: You’re missing a rare chance to see Calexico rock the house.

And get this: The big show inside will be projected on the outside wall of the theater, so come on down even if you don’t want to kick in any bucks to the Giffords campaign.

By the way, Calexico’s new release, Carried to Dust? Abolutely amazing.

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