Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Blue America Welcomes Matt Heinz


Democrats generally cheered when Ron Barber won the special election in AZ-8 a couple weeks ago-- or at least when Jesse Kelly lost it-- to finish out the remainder of Gabby Gifford's term. No one paying attention exactly expected her district manager to be a progressive voice in Congress but I don't think anyone expected him to get into the House and immediately start voting for the Republican agenda-- against the environment on this first day and then against Eric Holder a few days later.

On August 28 there's a primary in Arizona and Democrats will be asked to pick a candidate for a new congressional seat, AZ-2, that includes much of the old 8th. It's significantly more Democratic and there's no need for a Blue Dog or anyone else who caters to Republicans and kicks his own party's values and principles to the curb. We covered it yesterday. Today at 11am (PST) Blue America is welcoming a young Arizona doctor and state Rep., Matt Heinz for a live blogging session at Crooks and Liars. Matt is the newest candidate to be endorsed by Blue America.

Like many Democrats in the district, he was disgusted when Barber jumped right on the Boehner-Cantor team, giving them an opportunity to call their anti-environment jihad "bipartisan." Matt had a very different perspective. “I understand the importance of securing our borders,” explained Matt, “We cannot do it at the expense of our environment and civil liberties. Our environment is irreplaceable. We must be stewards of our natural wonders, particularly the unparalleled beauty of Southern Arizona's Sonora desert. We must stand on our convictions and principles to make the right decisions and not be cowed by hollow Tea Party claims that we need to degrade our environment in order to ensure our security and prosperity.”

Apparently Barber thinks he knows better than Mo Udall and senior agents of the Border Patrol. There is a difference between true bi-partisanship and caving to ideologues that are out-of-touch with the very agency they claim to support. Ron Barber failed to see that distinction. Matt had a 100% rating in 2011 with the League of Conservation Voters and a 100% rating with the Humane Voters of Arizona. Unlike Barber, people know where Matt stands on conservation, environmental and wildlife issues. Bipartisanship is about putting aside your politics for the greater good, not throwing out conviction for political gain.

Like most of us, Matt-- Doctor Heinz-- had mixed emotions when the 5-4 came down last week upholding the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, which he supports as a step in the right direction (and which Barber has more positions on that lead no where than Mitt Romney does).
“I feel strongly that every American has the right to see a doctor. I am dedicated to the solutions that ensure access to medical service for all Americans regardless of socioeconomic status.

"While I cheered the Supreme Court for finding most of the Affordable Care Act constitutional, I paused to consider the ramifications of Court’s ruling on the Medicaid expansion. The Supreme Court found that the federal government cannot penalize states for refusing to expand Medicaid eligibility to under-served populations. Without this incentive for states like Arizona to expand eligibility, the health and wellness of our most vulnerable populations remain at risk. This is a situation that we cannot stand for any longer. It is a glaring problem I promise to do all I can to fix.

“One day, a woman named Bobbie Thayer entered my legislative office and told me tested positive for breast cancer and had no idea how she could afford the treatment she needed to save her life. Her provider said because of a loophole and bureaucratic red tape, she did not qualify for insurance coverage for the treatment.

"As a legislator and a physician, I had to find a solution-- not only to help save Bobbie's life, but to make sure other women did not have to face near certain death because of byzantine loopholes because so many people face similar situations. No woman should be denied breast cancer treatment because of her income level.

"At that very moment, we embarked on our journey to change the law. Before our efforts, if a woman was not screened by a Well Woman Healthcheck Program provider (WWHP), she couldn’t receive treatment through the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (our local Medicaid program). Uninsured women were denied lifesaving medical attention simply because they unknowingly walked into the wrong clinic.

"The law I passed will broaden WWHP access and lift age restrictions so we can save Arizonan women’s lives."

Matt has taken it on himself, as a doctor and as a lawmaker, to make sure women don't get pushed around by misguided right-wing ideologues. Arizona's state government, completely dominated by far-right Republicans with no checks and no balances, has been passing crackpot laws that have targeted the most vulnerable among us. Matt went on Fox News with Greta Van Susteren show to counter ultra-conservative attacks on women's privacy after Gov. Brewer signed HB 2625, a law requiring women to provide proof that prescribed birth control are taken for reasons other than the prevention of pregnancy in order to receive reimbursement. Under the guise of employer's rights, conservatives attacked women and Matt took them to task for it. I doubt I have to remind people that women are facing the same battle nationally and need someone who has proven themselves. Matt also denounced Arizona HB 2800, a ban on reimbursements paid to Planned Parenthood for non-abortion services provided to low-income women. That ban will impact thousands of women who rely on Planned Parenthood for preventive treatments and evaluations, including mammograms, cancer screenings and vaccinations. Matt: "Proponents of this law created a problem that does not exist in order to infringe upon a women’s privacy and freedoms. I am committed to efforts to repeal this
law.” So it probably won't surprise you to know that Matt is also standing up for equal pay for equal work.
“Promoting a woman's right to equal pay and societal status is another fight that is near and dear to me. It is egregious that an estimated 18% payroll gap exists between men and women who perform the same job. I support Congressional efforts to pass measures like the Paycheck Fairness Act. This law would ease wage dispute procedures and do more to hold employers accountable for salary gaps.”

Again, the primary is August 28. Early voting starts August 2-- exactly one month from today. Please consider making a contribution to Matt's campaign here on the Blue America ActBlue page.

UPDATE: Matt's First Answer... WOW!

First off, I want to thank the Bloggers at Crooks and Liars and the Blue America PAC for endorsing my campaign. I am truly grateful for everyone’s encouragement and contributions. Thank you for being a community of inspiration and support.

How do I differ from my opponent on policy matters? First of all, Barber won't say whether he would have voted for the Affordable Care Act - I have always supported it, and while it needs improvement, certainly with regards to stopping individual states from opting out of expanding Medicaid, I believe its is a crucial step towards equitable access to health care.

My opponent also has equivocated about his support for Obama in the fall at multiple appearances, such a local debate and a CNN interview. Again, while I have my concerns with the White House, I believe as a Democrat I need to stand behind my president. If elected, I aim to work with Republicans from a position of strength and unity, not from a position of fear and uncertainty. Democrat is not a dirty word and our party needs to unite in order to change that perception. There are plenty of reasonable Republicans who are waiting for us to strengthen their hand against the far right-wind of the GOP, but we can't do that by abandoning our core values.

What makes a Democrat? A strong commitment to equitable access to jobs, credit, health care, the environment and public services. A Democrat is also committed to equality for all regardless of sexual orientation, gender, race or socio-economic status. Being a Democrat also means having an open mind to other points of view and positions and above all, serving a public interest.

Now that Barber has a legislative record, it is obvious that we have differing opinions. I would not have voted on HR 1505. Barber was willing to roll back environmental protections for a law that a majority of supervisors in the Border Patrol testified was unnecessary and did little if nothing to enhance Border Security. I also wouldn’t have voted to hold AG Holder in civil contempt as Barber did. Issa and Boehner are leading a political witch hunt that does nothing to address the real problem- the lack of a clear federal mandate for law enforcement to pursue and prosecute gun traffickers.

As with my fellow Southern Arizonans, I received the announcement of Rep. Gabrielle Gifford’s resignation with a heavy heart. Although I was the first Democrat to announce my candidacy for the special election, I truly believed Ron Barber, a member of Gabrielle Gifford’s staff, was the right person to finish out her term for 8th Congressional District.

It’s been a confusing political environment out here- Gabby's old seat, the 8th district, is becoming the 2nd CD. Barber won the old 8th and will fill out the term through Jan. 1, 2013. While the 8th district was majority Republican, the new 2nd is as purple as they come- essentially split three ways between Republicans, Democrats and Independents.

Redistricting gives southeastern Arizona a chance at a fresh start. Everyone living in the new 2nd district deserves a choice in the upcoming election.

Like many of C&L’s bloggers and readers, I am involved in politics first and foremost because of my convictions. At the same time, I need to represent the interests of all of the constituents of this new district. Reaching across the aisle to get things done is about putting one's politics aside, not their convictions, in order to reach consensus and implement policies that are best for the people. This is a distinction that has been lost on the Blue Dogs and Ron Barber.

Constituents in my state legislative district know where I stand on issues. During the special election, Barber was able to avoid taking positions because his opponent, Jesse Kelly, scared Republicans, Independents and Democrats alike with his uninformed, extremist views. But now that he has to vote, it is becoming clear that he does not stand with the party and subscribes to a false brand of bi-partisanship that is motivated by politics, not good policy.

For almost four years as a state lawmaker and almost a decade as a practicing physician, I tackled difficult situations and made hard decisions guided by my strong beliefs relating to equality and equal access.

In this respect, I am uniquely qualified tackle our struggling economy, improve the Affordable Care Act and stabilize Medicare and Social Security. In the state legislature, I found ways to save important health programs for low income families while staying within budget and stood up against unprecedented attacks against women’s health.

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