Is Arizona Ready To Elect A Democrat-- And Its First Latino Senator? Carmona Vs Flake
It was pretty shocking Tuesday when a poll showed mainstream Democrat Richard Carmona neck-and-neck with quirky right-wing extremist and former lobbyist Jeff Flake for the Arizona Senate seat being given up by arch-obstructionist Jon Kyl.
The U.S. Senate race in Arizona just got a lot more interesting after a new poll shows Democrat Richard Carmona neck-and-neck with Republican U.S. Rep. Jeff Flake, a six-term congressman.
If Carmona pulls an upset, he could become the first Latino Senator in Arizona history.
A poll released Tuesday by the Public Policy Polling, a North Carolina-based Democratic firm, showed Flake with a thin 44 percent to 43 percent lead over Carmona. This is the first publicly released poll of the U.S. Senate race since Flake was the victor in a heated GOP primary battle against multimillionaire Wil Cardon.
...For some Arizonans, the poll results were not a surprise. That is because Carmona-- a former U.S. Surgeon General under George W. Bush-- has proven to be a competitive candidate who has a diverse background and appeals to a broad group of voters.
The Democratic candidate was born and raised in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood to Puerto Rican parents who had drug and alcohol problems. After dropping out of high school, he enlisted in the Army. He went on to become a decorated military veteran, a trained surgeon, a medical professor and a deputy sheriff.
In 2002, President Bush nominated Carmona to be U.S. Surgeon General. Carmona served for four years, during which time he was advised by several politicians to run for office as a Republican.
Carmona was a registered independent until last November when he decided to run as the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate. Shortly before his announcement, he got a call from Obama who personally urged him to run for the Senate seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Jon Kyl, a Republican who served three terms.
Political analyst Mike O’Neil described Carmona as a “Democratic dream candidate” who just might be the first Democratic senator from Arizona since 1995. Not only that, Carmona could also be the first Hispanic senator in the state’s 100-year history.
Although Latino groups are registering people like mad, there are 180,000 more registered Republicans than Democrats in Arizona and if voters stick to party-line voting, Carmona won't have much of a chance. But he's a moderate who has quite a bit of appeal to mainstream Republicans and Flake is a crackpot. Easy to throw the word crackpot around, right? Sure... but that doesn't make Flake less of one. Just as the poll was coming out on Tuesday, the House was voting on a very uncontroversial bill, H.R. 4262, Judy Biggert's FHA Emergency Fiscal Solvency Act, which strengthens the National Housing Act by allowing them to avoid or recoup losses for loans originated or underwritten by a mortgage lender which did not comply with FHA guidelines, as well as expand HUD’s ability to terminate the authority of poorly performing lenders to participate in FHA programs. The bill passed 402-7 and will probably save the taxpayers millions of dollars. Every Democrat and every Republican-- but one-- from Arizona voted for it. The one, of course, was Flake. He-- along with a couple of other crackpot ideologues-- had some incoherent reasons for voting against it. And that's Flake; that's always Flake. He doesn't know how to work together in a collegial manner to solver problems. He's always all about show-boating his off-the-beaten-path ideological "purity." Half the time the other Republicans in the House don't know what he's talking about.
Carmona isn't the kind of hard-core progressive Blue America raises money for, but he's so much better than Flake-- and has a well-deserved reputation as a non-political problem-solver-- that we've been tempted. If we reach $100,000 each for Elizabeth, Tammy and Bernie, we'll revisit helping Carmona raise some money to beat Flake.