REPUBLICANS IN THE MUD
At last week's Pima County Republican Club luncheon, Republican National Committeeman Bruce Ash was explaining why he is supporting Pima County Supervisor Ray Carroll over challenger Sean Collins in next week's Republican primary.
"I don't agree with Ray on everything, but he's accessible," said Ash, who praised Carroll's record of providing constituent service, opposing county sales taxes and voting against Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry's budgets. "This guy is best for the job."
Ash is so upset by what he calls the "unsubstantiated accusations and scurrilous innuendo" coming from Team Collins that he took the unusual step of getting involved in a GOP primary—and even cut a radio ad to condemn the campaign against Carroll.
"There are a few people who have been up to no good in this election," Ash said in the ad. "It's not OK to make stuff up, and the crew that's helping wannabe supervisor candidate Sean Collins have been purposely trying to mislead us."
Ash took aim at ArizonaDailyIndependent.com (a relatively new blog that has made a variety of unattributed accusations against Carroll in recent weeks), as well as KNST AM 790/FM 97.1 morning-radio talk-show host Garret Lewis, and former state-lawmaker Randy Graf, who is one of Collins' chief political supporters.
"Randy is throwing out a load of B.S. for Collins, no matter if it has any truth or not," Ash said in the radio spot. "How many in Pima County would want Randy Graf being a ventriloquist for any supervisor?"
The ad has some Republicans hopping mad. As Ash was taking a moment at the meeting to talk about the race, he was interrupted by GOP activist Joyce Martin.
"I just wanted to say this to your face," Martin exclaimed. "That was the nastiest ad I have ever in my life heard of."
Ash gave Martin a smile and wished her a good day as she and a friend promised they'd exact their revenge the next time that Ash sought the post of national committeeman. It was yet another flashpoint in a campaign that has slid deeper into mudslinging as the primary election draws near.
On Team Carroll, you have Ash, political consultant/radio talk-show host Emil Franzi, Second Amendment enthusiast Ken Rineer, the ASARCO mining company, the Southern Arizona Home Builders Association and the Tucson Association of Realtors. On Team Collins, you have Graf, ArizonaDailyIndependent.com's Loretta Hunnicutt, attorney John Munger, the Rosemont Mine, and the mine's flunky, unsuccessful mayoral candidate Rick Grinnell.
But if the Republican Club luncheon is any indication, Carroll has far more support than Collins. When Collins spoke to the group, the back room at El Parador was half-full; when Carroll took the stage last Tuesday, Aug. 14, it was hard to find an empty seat.
While Carroll's opposition to the Rosemont Mine is a major issue in the race, the contest has also turned on whether Carroll is a secret liberal—a charge that Ash dismisses as "preposterous."
Ash's support of Carroll has some Republicans now calling him a Republican In Name Only. Ash wishes "good luck" to those who want to make that RINO charge stick.
"I hate the whole thing about RINOs," Ash says. "Ray is a guy who has stood for smaller government, lower taxes and Second Amendment rights."
HOW THE DOLLARS ADD UP
The latest campaign-finance reports for the Southern Arizona congressional races offer a preview of where the action will be in this election cycle.
Newly elected Congressman Ron Barber has demonstrated a talent for raising funds. Barber brought in $288,000 between July 1 and Aug. 8, which dwarfed the amounts raised by other congressional contenders. Barring an unlikely loss to challenger Matt Heinz in the next week's primary, Barber has big advantages going into November.
His likely GOP opponent, Martha McSally, raised just $47,000 in the same period. McSally had about $127,000 on hand; while the former Air Force fighter pilot has a terrific political résumé, she's going to need more money than that to unseat Barber, who has more than $377,000 on hand and a whole lot of name ID from having won the June special election to complete Gabrielle Giffords' term.
More bad news for McSally came with the announcement that the National Republican Congressional Committee was reserving $900,000 worth of TV air time on behalf of Republican Jonathan Paton, a former state lawmaker who is seeking the Congressional District 1 seat that includes Oro Valley, Marana, Flagstaff and rural eastern Arizona.
That tells us that even though Paton has not yet even won his primary, the NRCC is flexing its muscle against Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick, a former congresswoman who represented much of the area between 2008 and 2010. Whether they'll do the same for McSally remains to be seen, but there's going to be a lot of competition for those campaign dollars across the country, and the NRCC has not had much luck in Southern Arizona in recent years.
The NRCC's bet on Paton also helped make up for the fact that he raised just $51,000 during the latest reporting period.
Kirkpatrick, by contrast, raised more than $92,000 and holds an enormous cash advantage: At the end of the reporting period, Kirkpatrick had $826,000 in the bank, compared to Paton's $127,000.
OFF WITH HIS HEAD! OR MAYBE NOT!
GOP state Senate hopeful Tyler Mott says he probably should have taken a deep breath before telling Facebook what was on his mind in August 2011.
At the time, he was thinking about hanging President Barack Obama.
After the president's decision to review, and in most cases stop, deportations of illegal immigrants without prior criminal histories, Mott took to his Facebook page to call for Obama's head, as well as the head of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
His full post read: "Who the hell does Obama think that he is? His job is to enforce the law. He doesn't get to arbitrarily decide not to deport people who have been ordered deported. If Obama wants the job of making the law, he needs to go back to running for Congress. Or if he wants the job of interpreting the Constitution, then he needs to get appointed to the Supreme Court. Obama and Napolitano should both be hung for treason!"
When The Skinny called Mott to ask if he really believed the president and secretary of homeland security should be hung for treason, Mott said he had no idea what we were talking about. So we read the post back to him, as well as the comments from several of his Facebook friends, one of whom noted that the post was "not cool."
Mott said the president should be held accountable for breaking the law, which he says Obama did by focusing his administration's efforts on prosecuting high-priority immigration cases.
"If George Bush would have done the same thing, the left would have been furious," he said. "That's something that Congress needs to take up."
But after he verified the post was, indeed, on his Facebook account, he softened his tune.
"Obviously, the hyperbole I was using wasn't anything to be taken seriously," he said. "I'm a pro-lifer. I believe in life. I don't believe in killing people."
He also took the comment down from Facebook.