Saturday, December 15, 2012

Ron Barber (AZ)-- As Bad As We Feared... And He's Just Getting Started


Arizona Democrats, for largely emotional reasons, picked conservative corporate shill Ron Barber, a former staffer for Gabby Giffords, to replace Giffords. Last month, in one of the closest contests in the country, Barber managed to hold onto Giffords' seat against formidable GOP opposition, 143,173 (50%) to 141,771 (50%). Republican Martha McSally spent $1,393,346 and outside groups spent in the neighborhood of $2 million to support her. Barber outraised her significantly and spent $2,637,022, with outside groups kicking in close another million on his behalf (although that included the special election as well). Arizona's new 2nd district has two counties, blue-leaning Pima and deep red parts of Cochise. Barber beat McSally 117,472 (52%) to 108,728 (48%) in Pima, overcoming her 60-40% win in much smaller Cochise, where he picked up 17,388 votes and she won 25,620. (Romney won the district narrowly, 49.9- 48.4%.)

Many Arizona Democrats were dismayed when they realized Barber-- after his win against a Tea Party extremist in the special election-- would be voting against progressive values and with his corporate cronies. His ProgressivePunch crucial vote score so far is a dismal 65.08-- Blue Dog territory, although, so far, he hasn't officially joined that caucus as far as we know. His first two substantive votes in Congress were to join Darrell Issa's psychotic jihad against Attorney General Eric Holder and then to vote for a Republican plan to gut environmental protections in Arizona. Only 16 of the most anti-environmental Blue Dogs and New Dems joined the GOP for this boondoggle. Right after the vote a DWT reader left this comment on the blog:
I am beyond words. I supported this slimy traitor and attach what I just wrote to him. We are being disenfranchised by deception.

"You must be kidding me! THIS is why I gave you hundreds of dollars of my limited retirement income? THIS is my alternative to Jesse Stinking Kelly??! My God, man - what are you thinking? How DARE you presume to color yourself in the mold of Gabrielle Giffords. I lose one of the last sane voices in the House and THIS is the result? To say that I am disappointed would be the grossest sort of understatement!! Who are you? What is your real agenda??!"
Good question... and the next week Barber exposed his right-wing tendencies again, this time joining 20 other reactionary Democrats to back Issa's demands for Eric Holder's scalp. Barber sent a clear message to Boehner and Cantor that when they need a so-called "Democrat" to make even their most extreme crackpot agenda items look "bipartisan," he's their boy. No progressives expect him to be helpful in finding a humane solution to border problems and immigration policy. And then Thursday he sent out a press release bragging about how he's hassling federal regulators about enforcing environmental protection laws, doing so in Republican talking point language:
U.S. Rep. Ron Barber will tour the Apache Generating Station tomorrow – one day after the congressman met with federal officials who are requiring the installation of costly emission control devices on the Cochise County plant.

“As our economy slowly recovers, middle-class families still face a number of burdens,” Barber said today. “That's why I want to see for myself the impact these standards will have on rates families have to pay and jobs in Cochise County. I will continue to work with the owner of the generating station and the Environmental Protection Agency to find a solution that works for all involved.”

Barber recently wrote to the administrator of the EPA urging her to reconsider proposed emissions requirements and timelines that could eliminate jobs in Southern Arizona and lead to higher rates for electric customers in rural Cochise County.

In his letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, Barber said he supports efforts to reduce emissions from the power plant, but contends that an EPA proposal “significantly threatens the future energy production, employees and ratepayers.”

Barber, in his letter, also asked to meet with EPA officials to discuss the emissions requirements. That meeting took place today in Barber’s office on Capitol Hill.

Tomorrow, Barber will tour the plant and meet with officials of the Arizona Electric Power Cooperative to see what work would be required under the EPA proposal. Media is welcome to join the tour and talk with the congressman after.

The EPA has proposed an emission limit that will require the installation of additional, more expensive technology at the Apache Generating Station, located between Benson and Willcox. The EPA says the goal is to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions that cause haze which the agency says is impacting visibility at national parks and wilderness areas in the Southwest.

Barber stressed that he supports that goal, but expressed concern about the cost of the technology. The Arizona Electric Power Cooperative, owner and operator of the plant, said the technology would cost more than $160 million, forcing it to increase rates-- possibly by 20 percent-- and lay off employees.
The Arizona Electric Power Cooperative makes its political contributions through the powerful National Rural Electric Cooperative Association PAC which spent $3,244,932 on federal candidates this year, almost all of it to Republicans, although they also give generously to conservatives and corporate whores on the Democratic side of the aisle. Barber, no doubt, want to make sure they know he's their kind of Democrat. The Democrats who got the big pops from these guys-- $10,000 or more-- were dreadful far right Blue Dogs, John Barrow (GA), Jim Matheson (UT), Mike McIntyre (NC), Joe Manchin (WV), Collin Peterson (MN), Tim Holden (PA)-- their single biggest recipient for 2012-- and Ron Kind (WI), head of the corporate-oriented New Dems. Dr. Matt Heinz is weighing another primary challenge against Barber.

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At 1:25 PM, Anonymous me said...

conservative corporate shill Ron Barber, a former staffer for Gabby Giffords

You can bet your bottom dollar that if I were in Congress, no conservative corporate shill would be on my staff. (Well, maybe I'd keep one as devil's advocate.)

Obviously Giffords couldn't have been that great.


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