The Donald comes to Phoenix, says dumb things about Latinos
There's a strategy in the world of campaigning called "dog whistle politics": Stumping candidates speak in a code to appeal to the prejudices to their audiences without saying outright racist comments that turn off mainstream voters.
You'll hear dog whistles when politicians talk about "welfare queens" or "law and order" rather than complaining about how the flood of impure brown-skinned inferior criminals pouring across the border are going to destroy America's way of life.
Republican presidential candidate and real-estate mogul Donald Trump dispensed with the subtlety of the dog whistle altogether when he announced his presidential campaign, laying down the now-famous quote: "When Mexico sends its people, they are not sending their best. They are not sending you. They are sending people that have lots of problems, and they are bringing those problems to us. They are bringing drugs and they are bringing crime, and they're rapists." (Trump was sensitive enough to note, as an afterthought: "And some, I assume, are good people.")
This is not a helpful step for a Republican Party that is determined to woo more Latino voters. After 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney said undocumented immigrants should "self-deport," he ended up with an estimated 27 percent of the Latino vote, compared to Barack Obama's 72 percent. Given the growing influence of Latinos in the voting booth, that's not a good trend for the GOP's future success at winning the White House.
The embrace of blunt racist rhetoric has also turned out to be a lousy business move for Trump, as it has cost him relationships with Macy's, NBC, Univision, the Professional Golfers' Association of America and others. But it has been a boost for his campaign as he has propelled himself into second place in several polls and, over the weekend, made an appearance in Phoenix alongside none other than Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was last seen groveling in a federal court during a contempt hearing after it was revealed that he had hired a private investigator to look into the judge who was deciding whether Arpaio had defied a federal court order about racial profiling.
Quite a pair, indeed.
Trump brought a sizable crowd of roughly 4,000 people out to the Phoenix Convention Center (although Trump boasted on Twitter that 12,000 to 15,000 people where in the room and Phoenix fire officials allowed all of them in despite a room capacity limit of 4,200). He laid down some more incendiary rhetoric and picked up some more steam for his doomed presidential run.
Trump's commentary has Republicans in Arizona split. Some politicos, such as state Sen. Steve Smith (who represents Oro Valley), were excited about posing for photos with Trump, while others, such as U.S. Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake, criticized the Maricopa County Republican Party for teaming up with the Donald because they are trying to widen the GOP's appeal. "I had hoped that we had moved on from some of the coarse rhetoric and these statements," Flake told the Washington Post.
But Trump's rise in the polls is a clear sign that some members of the Republican base still love bashing Latinos—and are pretty unhappy that Republicans like Flake and McCain have gone soft.
Trump is not going to win the race for the presidency, or even the Republican nomination fight, but his comments put the other Republican candidates in a tight spot. Do they repudiate Trump and alienate those voters or do they support what he says but not the way he says it in hopes of winning over some of his supporters? Either way, it's going to make for a spectacular GOP debate on Fox News on Thursday, Aug. 6.
McSally raises a million dollars for congressional campaign while Kirkpatrick brings in $700,000 for Senate bid
It's time once again for federal candidates to reveal how much money they've raised in the second quarter of 2015.
Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick, who is giving up her District 1 congressional seat to run for Sen. John McCain's U.S. Senate seat, reported raising a respectable $700,000 in the first five weeks of her campaign.
"This strong start shows that Arizonans are ready for a new voice in the United States Senate," Kirkpatrick said in a prepared statement. "From fundraising to endorsements to excitement on the ground, the early momentum we've seen is energizing us to work harder than ever."
Kirkpatrick is not only raising money; she's also locking in endorsements now to dissuade any other Democrats—such as Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema—from getting into the race. Kirkpatrick already has the support of former Arizona attorney general Terry Goddard; former Arizona governor Rose Mofford; former members of Congress Ron Barber, Harry Mitchell and Ed Pastor; former U.S. senator Dennis DeConcini; and a host of other state and local officials.
Meanwhile, Congresswoman Martha McSally continues to be a colossal fundraiser. The freshman Republican raised more than a million dollars between April 1 and June 30 this year.
It's McSally's biggest haul yet and, according to her campaign, she has more than $1.4 million on hand with an election still more than a year away.
That's an intimidating warchest, but now that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the congressional lines won't be changing until 2022, potential opponents now know what the playing field will be.
State Rep. Victoria Steele, a Democrat who represents central Tucson and Catalina Foothills, announced last week that she was going to run for McSally's Congressional District 2 seat. In a fundraising letter to supporters, Steele said that the district "has been well served in the past by the transformational leadership of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Congressman Ron Barber. With your help, I will build on their legacies in the United States Congress."
She added that she was confident she could raise enough money to be competitive with McSally.
"Can we raise the millions of dollars that we need to run a strong campaign?" Steele asked. "I know we can because this is how I won my legislative seat—with hundreds of commitments from people who truly care about the future of Arizona."
Steele's chances were largely dismissed by National Republican Campaign Committee spokesman Zach Hunter.
"Victoria Steele is just another out of touch liberal who is eager to blindly march to the beat of Nancy Pelosi's drum," Hunter said in an emailed statement. "Steele is simply too partisan and too far left for second District families."
Other potential CD2 Democratic candidates include former state lawmaker Matt Heinz and former D.C. insider Nan Walden, who now owns a pecan farm in Sahuarita.
Zona Politics with Jim Nintzel is taking a summer break. The show will return with a new episode on Sunday, July 26, at 8 a.m. on KWBA, Channel 8 on Cox and Comcast and Channel 58 on DirecTV and broadcast.