Following The Money: Democrats Spend Big in Southern Arizona Legislative Races

A Democratic mailer targeting Republican Frank Antenori sponsored by Victory 2008; Antenori charges that Democrats "made complete fabrications."

We’ve mentioned recently in The Skinny (here and here) how the Arizona Democratic Party is making a big push to flip the Arizona House of Representatives. To do it, they need to flip four seats into the Democratic column while hanging onto the gains they made in 2008.

That’s no easy task, but the Democrats are never likely to find themselves in a more advantageous political environment. And they certainly have the financial resources to make it happen, although we’ll have to wait until Election Day to see if they ended up spending all their money in an effective manner.

The Democratic Party has invested a half-million dollars into Victory 2008, a political committee pushing for Democrats in GOP districts across the state. They’re being backed up by Arizonans for a Healthy Economy, a political committee that, according to the most recent campaign finance reports, had been funded by the NEA Fund for Children and Public Education ($50K), the Arizona Fire Fighters ($50K), the SEIU labor guys ($50K), and Arizona’s List, a political committee dedicated to electing pro-choice Democratic women ($37K). Arizonans for a Healthy Economy also picked up a bunch of contributions from Tucson-area lefties.

Here in Southern Arizona, the Democrats have targeted Districts 25, 26 and 30 with more than $300,000 in campaign spending. They should get an easy pick-up in LD25, where Republican Rep. Jennifer Burns is retiring. The district leans Democratic and the Republican candidates are not especially credible; one of them, David Stevens, isn’t even in the country to campaign.

In GOP-leaning District 26 (Catalina Foothills, Oro Valley, Saddlebrooke), the Democrats have to protect Rep. Nancy Young Wright and carry Don Jorgensen to victory against Republicans Vic Williams and Marilyn Zerull. They also want to keep the state Senate seat in Democratic hands by supporting Cheryl Cage against Republican Al Melvin.

In LD26, the Democratic committees have combined to spend Continue reading

ScrambleWatch Q&A: Republican David Gowan on Crime

Republican David Gowan is facing fellow Republican Frank Antenori and Democrat Andrea Dalessandro in the race for two seats in the House of Representatives in Legislative District 30. We asked him some questions on crime.

Should we increase state funding for prison construction?

It’s hard because we are in such a big hole. I like what Arpaio does. I think he has a good plan and he saves the county a lot of money. At the moment we have got to come out of our money crisis.

Should we have more contracts with private prisons?

I want to see how the ones that are out there are doing compared to the public ones. It’s not that I would support it or not, I would want to take a look at them and compare them.

Should we spend more on programs that provide prisoners with vocational education while they are behind bars?

Helping them earn their GED is Continue reading

ScrambleWatch Q&A: Democrat Andrea Dalessandro on Crime

Democrat Andrea Dalessandro is facing Republicans Frank Antenori and David Gowan in the race for two House of Representatives seats in Legislative District 30. We asked her some questions about crime.

Should we increase state funding for prison construction?

I wish that we would refocus. Our prison budget is going out-of-sight compared to what it was a few years ago. We need to look at some of sentencing laws for minor crimes and we need to give them opportunities for education. I’m also concerned about first-time juvenile drug offenders. I don’t want them to become career prison residents. I would rather see them have increased opportunity and be productive. I think it’s sad that we are spending more money on inmates in prison, than we are spending on youth for public education.

Should we have more contracts with private prisons?

No, because privatization is great in theory, but if there is a profit motive, I don’t think it’s a good thing. People still have rights and they need to be treated humanely with proper food and facilities. I also think that education should be encouraged more in prisons, because if it isn’t there, they just return to a life of violence.
Do you support “hate crimes” legislation that increases penalties for crimes based on race, ethnic background, religious belief, sex, age, disability or sexual orientation?

I think it’s a basic civil right and hate crimes are just evil. It doesn’t Continue reading

ScrambleWatch Q&A: Republican David Gowan on Higher Education

Republican David Gowan is facing Republican Frank Antenori and Democrat Andrea Dalessandro in the race for two seats in Legislative District 30. We asked him some questions on higher education.

Should the state provide more funding for universities?

I would have to look at a line-item budget to figure that out. With a two billion dollar deficit, it depends if that is a necessity or is it frivolous.

Should the Board of Regents increase tuition for in-state students?

We’ve got to rely on them–that’s why they are a board. Then we go in and do a countercheck.

Should the Board of Regents increase tuition for out-of-state students?

I think it is appropriate that the out-of-state is a little higher.

Should tuition money be used to provide financial aid for low-income students?

Yes, I believe that. It helps them Continue reading

ScrambleWatch Q&A: Republican David Gowan on Education

Republican David Gowan is facing Republican Frank Antenori and Democrat Andrea Dalessandro race for two House seats in Legislative District 30. We asked him some questions about education.

Should the AIMS test remain a requirement for high-school graduation?

I know a lot of teachers don’t like it… Federally mandated standards make things rough. I’m all about patriotism but they still need to be learning their basic reading, math, and arithmetic. There should be some sort of performance standard. I heard from The Goldwater Institute that this is the first time in history that our students won’t know as much as their parents did.

Do you favor any changes for the AIMS test?

No, not at the moment.

Do you support state-funded vouchers for private or religious schools?

Yes, I believe in the parental school choice in that aspect. When you allow the free market to blossom, you have better situations. If I’m a parent and I Continue reading

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

ScrambleWatch Q&A: Republican David Gowan on Crime

Having made it through the primaries, Republican David Gowan will run against Frank Antenori and Andrea Dalessandro in the general election for one of two seats in Legislative District 30 House of Representatives. We asked him some questions on crime.

Should we increase state funding for prison construction?

It’s hard because we are in such a big hole. I like what Arpaio does. I think he has a good plan and he saves the county a lot of money. At the moment we have got to come out of our money crisis.

Should we have more contracts with private prisons?

I want to see how the ones that are out there are doing compared to the public ones. It’s not that I would support it or not, I would want to take a look at them and compare them.

Should we spend more on programs that provide prisoners with vocational education while they are behind bars?

Helping them earn their GED is a good thing. I think our problem is allowing them to have cable TV and other extra-curricular things. Education is a different thing. Rehabilitation is the purpose.

Should we look at alternatives to imprisonment for non-violent offenders?

I guess it depends on Continue reading