Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Will Trump's Interference Hand The Democrats The Arizona Senate Seat-- And A Senate Majority?


Painting by Nancy Ohanian

Señor Trumpanzee hasn't figured out Republican Party politics-- or GOP congressional primaries-- yet. He's terrible at it. But that hasn't stopped him from jumping in like some kind of a crazed baboon. A few weeks ago we mentioned that Trump's pre-adolescent vindictive, self-destructive nature is endangering Dean Heller's reelection bid in Nevada. Here's the ad that a Trump SuperPAC, which Pence beats the bushes to finance, ran in the Reno and Las Vegas media markets to scare not just Heller but any Republican daring to try to serve their constituents' interests instead of bowing down to Trump's insane megalomania:

Arizona Senator Jeff Flake has a long history-- mostly in the House-- as a right-of-center conservative. His record is very conservative but, unlike so many of his colleagues, not unhinged or deranged. He's a Mormon and his very vocal opposition to Trump seems to have been based on the same sense of decency and deep-seated beliefs that most Mormon leaders expressed during the election. Trump did significantly worse in Mormon communities than other Republicans did. In 2004, George W Bush took 80% of the Mormon vote. In 2012 Romney took 78%. The morally reprehensible Trump only managed to win 61% of the Mormon vote nationally.

We have written before than Trump's political operatives are hoping to defeat Flake in his 2018 reelection bid, preferably with neo-fascist Trumpist Jeff DeWit, Arizona state Treasurer. Another extremist who would likely be fine with the Trump Regime is extremist former state Senator Kelli Ward, another neo-fascist crackpot. When she challenged John McCain last year, McCain pulverized her 302,532 (51.2%) to 235,988 (39.9%).

A Republican mid-November poll looked sketchy for Flake. Trump's favorable rating among Republicans then was 82% and Flake's was just 30%. Wade scored 19% and DeWit came in at 35%. Head-to-head match-ups showed Ward tying Flake 35-35% and DeWit beating him 42-33%. DeWit would have also won a 3-ways primary:
DeWit- 38%
Ward- 15%
Flake- 30%
In February, Ward released a poll of likely Republican primary voters from Political Marketing International. It shows Ward pulling ahead of Flake in a head-to-head match-up, 30% to 23%. Ward didn't released any polling that included DeWit, but she did boast that she was the "most conservative member of the Arizona State Senate in 2015" and reminded whomever reads her stuff that Flake is "one of President Trump's biggest foes."

[Note: Political Marketing Strategies is not a well-regarded firm and is pretty much considered one of those companies that delivers whatever results they're paid to deliver. Ward paid them $5,000 for this poll. She is touting it in a press release claiming Flake is "in freefall."]

That said, Flake, a freshman, could be in trouble with Arizona Republican primary voters. He's been a tad too independent-minded for most knee-jerk Republicans and if Trump really decides to make an example of him, he could be toast, even though Trump doesn't have an impressive track record interfering in GOP primaries. A North Carolina incumbent he strongly backed, Renee Ellmers, was eviscerated, barely coming in third in a 3-way race (George Holding- 53.4%, Renee Ellmers- 23.6%, Greg Brannon- 23.0%, just 207 votes separating the latter two). And Thursday, Trump's candidate to replace Mike Pompeo in KS-04, Alan Cobb, was badly beaten by run-of-the-mill establishment Republican Ron Estes.

Trump won Arizona last year-- but not by much. McCain and Romney each beat Obama in Arizona 54-45%. Trump squeaked by 49.5-45.4%. It wasn't that Hillary did better than Obama-- she didn't-- it was that voters liked Trump less than other GOP nominees. Last November Trump got 1,021,154 votes the same day that McCain was being reelected senator with 1,089,324 votes (53.4%). Trump was a drag on the GOP ticket across the state. He's less popular among Arizona voters today. The trick for a politician like Flake is to hold onto Trump's base while expanding it by differentiating himself from Trump. Monday morning, Alex Isenstadt explained to Politico readers how Trump is making that very hard for Flake to do. Trump, who has threatened to spend $10 million of his own money-- an empty threat; Trump is too cheap-- against Flake, and White House political operatives have been meeting with Flake foes.

That's DeWit in the back with a pack of Trumpanzees

Since taking office, Trump has spoken with Arizona state Treasurer Jeff DeWit, a top official on his 2016 campaign, on at least two occasions, according to two sources familiar with the talks. More recently, since June, White House officials have also had discussions with former state Sen. Kelli Ward, who has announced her bid, and former Arizona GOP Chairman Robert Graham, who like DeWit is exploring a campaign.

At a Republican National Committee meeting outside of San Diego in May, David Bossie, Trump’s deputy campaign manager and the president of the influential conservative outside group Citizens United, told Graham that either he or DeWit would likely get substantial backing from conservatives should either enter the contest, according to three people familiar with the conversation.

“Maybe [Flake] should get back on the Trump team. A lot of people believe in Trump’s policies," said former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a prominent immigration hard-liner who backed Trump, noting that the president remained popular in Arizona. “There’s a silent majority that’s still there, and still in this state, so watch out.”

Graham, who has begun reviewing polling and purchasing campaign website addresses, was present at a meeting this spring of top GOP donors in Arizona that was also attended by Chris Bannon, White House chief strategist Steve Bannon’s younger brother and a University of Arizona official. At the top of the agenda, according to three people familiar with the event, was a prospective Graham primary against Flake. During the meeting, which was also attended by Arizona Cardinals executive Michael Bidwill, several donors expressed mounting frustration with the incumbent.

Those familiar with the gathering stressed that Chris Bannon, who is widely viewed as a conduit to his powerful brother, was more of a listener than active participant and did not articulate his feelings about a Flake challenge.

...Trump is keeping close tabs on Flake’s fortunes back home. During a meeting with a small group of state Republican Party chairs in the Oval Office on Tuesday, he asked Arizona GOP Chairman Jonathan Lines for an update on the race. Lines responded by telling the president that the state party did not get involved in primaries, according to three people familiar with the exchange.

“The mutual dislike runs deep,” said Constantin Querard, a Republican strategist who oversaw Ted Cruz’s 2016 campaign in the state. “That both complicates [Flake’s] path to re-election by putting him at odds with much of the Arizona GOP, and it makes it very likely that if he gets a primary challenger that the Trump team likes, that challenger will be funded and supported in a way that makes beating Flake the most likely outcome.”

...An administration-backed primary challenge to Flake would also further inflame tensions with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who over the last several weeks has had several run-ins with the White House over political planning. McConnell, who is fiercely protective of GOP incumbents and has vowed to protect those facing primaries, recently became enraged when a Trump-sanctioned outside group launched an advertising blitz targeting Republican Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada, who was also critical of the president during the 2016 campaign, over his refusal to back the Obamacare repeal plan.

Even so, there has been ongoing talk at the White House about how a prospective race would play out. Among the questions raised, according to two people who have discussed the matter with the administration directly, surrounds the candidacy of Ward, a brash conservative who was crushed by McCain in a 2016 primary. A well-known figure in the state, she could siphon support from DeWit or Graham, both of whom are regarded as more viable candidates.

...Among the president’s most vocal supporters, the feeling of betrayal is particularly intense.

“He’s the president, so we should stick by him, especially on the Republican side,” said Arpaio, noting that Flake was one of a small group of senators who had vocally opposed Trump.

Yet the complaints about Flake extend to other perceived apostasies, including his 2016 push to pass a bipartisan gun control bill, his openness to negotiate with former President Barack Obama over a nuclear pact with Iran, and his push to lift the U.S. embargo on travel to Cuba. While his supporters praise him as an independent-minded lawmaker who charts his own path, Flake’s detractors deride him as a grandstander-- one all too willing to poke his party in the eye.

Many of those in the state who provided Trump with financial backing in 2016 have begun talking up the possibility of finding a primary challenger, with DeWit and Graham among those most frequently mentioned. Others hold out hope that GOP Rep. Martha McSally, a rising star, or former Gov. Jan Brewer, a vigorous Trump backer, will enter the race.

Don Shooter, a state legislator and an outspoken backer of the president, predicted that a Flake challenger would immediately be able to raise between $10 million and $15 million from donors eager to see the incumbent unseated. “They’re motivated to take Jeff Flake out,” he said.

Among those Flake has rankled: Paradise Valley philanthropist Don Tapia, one of the most sought-after Republican donors in the state, who donated over $100,000 to pro-Trump causes in 2016 and also helped to bankroll his inauguration. Tapia was a benefactor of Flake’s 2012 Senate run but, according to multiple Arizona Republicans, has recently spoken of backing someone else in next year’s primary. (Tapia did not respond to a request for comment.)

"He ran into a big storm coming out against Trump,” Ed Robson, an Arizona real estate developer and major GOP donor who contributed to a pro-Trump super PAC, said of the senator. “This being a big Trump area, he probably made a mistake doing that."
The likely Democratic nominee is Phoenix mayor Greg Stanton, a garden variety establishment Democrat, but there's always the chance Schumer will make a fatal error-- he's extremely prone to them-- and persuade the most Republican-like Democrat in Congress, arch-conservative-- and very corrupt-- Kyrsten Sinema to run. That would immediately put Arizona out of reach for Democrats for 2018. And now we're hearing Trumpists in Tennessee want to back a primary by far right lunatic Mark Green, an extremely bigoted state senator who Trump unsuccessfully tried to appoint Army Secretary, against Bob Corker.

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At 4:29 AM, Anonymous Hone said...

This discussion reflects how far we have fallen. What a horrible bunch!

Is this really us now? Is this who Americans are, to be considering these horrors to be our representatives in office in Washington? The entire Republican party should drown in their own swamp.

At 6:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's fucking AZ. Unless the R candidate dies, he'll get elected whomever he/it is.
One thing the candidate must do, however, is lie about his support of drumpfdeath.
AZ is a haven for retirees on Medicare. There are a lot on Medicaid also, though I don't think AZ did the expansion under obamneycare. But still...

Those idiots will believe the R if he SAYS he's not in favor of drumpfdeath... if that's even an issue in 2018.

Old white people probably won't elect a D, especially whatever corrupt loser the DSCC finds to lose that race. The Hispanic demo may be able to elect someone some day... but not 2018. They'll find a way to close precincts or squeeze the number of booths or something to make it very hard for Hispanics to vote... like the democraps did in the primaries in many states. And nobody will give a shit.

At 11:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In Arizona this great saying about safe districts applies to Republicans:

'...unless you're caught with a dead girl or a live boy...."


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