Let the Mud Fly! Thomas Stoops to Negative Campaigning in Republican AG Primary

As if elections in Arizona weren’t exciting enough, we can always count on the ambitious to cross the line and go negative. And for our part, all we can do is sit back and try to avoid being caught in the crossfire of muckflinging.

In the Republican primary for attorney general, Tom Horne is squaring off against Andrew Thomas next month in a contentious, and hard to predict, race.

The following signs were spotted around Tucson this week:

Don't vote for Tom Horne -- he turns smiles upside down.

Just on a purely graphical note, these signs certainly do the right job in attacking Horne. Red triggers emotions of fear and anger. The text is large enough to read from any distance or lighting. And, really, who would vote for a guy who could make the bouncing Wal-mart happy face mascot cry?

The signs link to StopTom.com, a website that is saturated with righteous indignation against Tom Horne. The banner of the site accuses Horne of being a “RINO” – a Republican in name only. “Tom Horne is no conservative,” screams the header in stark blacks and greys, “he is a confessed con artist.”

The website than proceeds on a long litany of accusations against Tom Horne, that supposedly demonstrate that Horne isn’t a true conservative — including the fact that Horne has received several speeding tickets. Because we all know that conservatives always abide by speeding laws. Reports are still pending as to whether or not Tom Horne also kicks puppies and steals candy from babies.

But the most inflammatory charge made by StopTom.com is the one also referred to in the campaign sign pictured above: that Tom Horne supposedly supports tax-payer funded abortions. And, it is true that while in the State Legislature, Horne voted “No” on HB 2708, which explicitly banned use of public funds to pay for abortions, in all or in part. The bill also required underage women to receive parental consent, and failed in the House by a vote of 28-28.

Interestingly, StopTom.com includes footer information revealing that it is paid for the “Thomas for AG Committee”. Horne is running as a traditional candidate, but Andrew Thomas is participating in Arizona’s Clean Elections Commission, which begs the question as to whether or not a potentially slanderous (or at least a clearly distasteful) negative campaign can be conducted on Clean Elections money.

Turns out it can. I called up the Clean Elections office today and found out that the Commission allows candidates to conduct negative campaigning with its funds. “We don’t regulate speech [in campaign materials],” said a representative of the Clean Elections office. Furthermore, a financial disclosure (which the sign pictured above lacks) is not required on small campaign materials, including campaign signs (regardless of the dimensions of the sign). So, as long as the expense is documented in the candidate’s financial reports, Clean Elections candidates are free to pay for attack ads out of their campaign funds — while hiding the fact that they’re paying for the ad on the materials themselves. Talk about loopholes.

Either way, while I’m no fan of Tom Horne (aka, the guy who spear-headed Arizona’s recent ban on ethnic studies programs), I’m really put off by the shameful muckflinging demonstrated by the sign above.

Tom Horne may (or may not) support tax-payer funded abortions, but Andrew Thomas clearly supports tax-payer funded character assasination.

Note: I am awaiting a comment from the Horne campaign on this story. If I hear back, I will update this article accordingly. 

UPDATE: I have written about Tom Horne’s responses to this negative ad campaign here.

Cross-posted: Blog for Arizona

Why Ryan Murdough is Racist and Why You Probably Are, Too

Ryan Murdough, a white supremacist

An (older) new post I wrote over at Change.org last week:

Why Ryan Murdough is Racist and Why You Probably Are, Too

The wonderful thing about democracy is that even the most radical political extremists can participate in our political process. But of course, this is also democracy’s curse — particularly if these radical extremists are noxious white supremacists that try to spout racist, intolerant hatred from the largest soapbox they can manage.New Hampshire’s Ryan Murdough is one such case. A fringe Congressional candidate running as a Republican — a man unknown to the state’s political powers-that-be — Murdough flew under the radar until earlier this month, when he wrote a letter to the Concord Monitor. In it, Mudough outed himself as the state chairperson of the New Hampshire branch of the American Third Position Party.

Sound innocuous? Actually, the Southern Poverty Law Center (which tracks hate groups in America) labels this group “a fledgling political party…with the aim of uniting disaffected racists.”

Murdough is a textbook white supremacist who sees multiculturalism as a threat — not just to his cultural identity, but to his very safety. In his letter to the editor, Murdough wrote, “Statistics show that areas with high non-white populations have higher rates of violent crime.” In a one-on-one interview with the Concord Monitor, Murdough expands on this viewpoint by suggesting that non-whites are genetically predispositioned to committing crime. “I’d rather live in a place that would be safer for my kids, and most of those places happen to be white. New Hampshire is an example.”

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Will Arizona Voters Roll Back Racial Progress with Prop. 107?

Ward Connerly and Fred Thompson -- two-thirds of a true axis of evil?

Here’s my latest post over at Change.org. Yes, it’s also on Proposition 107.

Will Arizona Voters Roll Back Racial Progress with Prop. 107?

Following on the heels of its notorious anti-immigrant law, Arizona is again taking aim at its resident people of color — this time through a seemingly innocuous ballot initiative.

The proposal sounds like this: This state shall not grant preferential treatment to or discriminate against any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.

How many of us might support such a statement if we were asked to vote for it? Most of us probably would — it’s a disarmingly simple statement that appeals to our common hopes for a race- and gender-equal society. It suggests a dream of a better America, where racism and sexism no longer exist.

Yet a single statement like this one is what has successfully institutionalized racism and discrimination in California. In 1996, voters in California passed a ballot proposition based on these ideas. Since then, black and Latino enrollment in state universities has dwindled. Minority- and female-owned small businesses are less successful. Training programs and scholarships focused at underrepresented minorities have been decimated. (For a full discussion of the impact of this ballot proposition in California, read this report.) Similar efforts have succeeded in drastically reducing opportunities for minorities and women in Michigan and Nebraska, as well.

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Ward Connerly’s Plans to Buy a Vote in Arizona

Ward Connerly considers his plans to buy elections, one state at a time.

Proposition 107 is bad news for equal opportunity in Arizona. But, Ward Connerly, no friend to diversity efforts, has dedicated himself to pushing this effort through in November. His American Civil Rights Initiative (ACRI) worked with State Senator Russell Pearce and State Representative Steve Montenegro to bypass signature requirements generally needed to put a ballot measure to popular vote; instead, our esteemed state politicians used their positions to force Proposition 107 onto the ballot without the input of registered voters.

Last year, Ward Connerly promised to pour money into Arizona in order to ensure passage of Proposition 107.

Connerly said he would devote money to see a “decisive” victory for the referendum in 2010.

“I don’t want to win by a squeaker,” said Connerly, who is seeking similar reforms in Missouri, Oklahoma and Colorado, where opponents of preferential programs narrowly lost at the ballot in 2008.

The Arizona Civil Rights Initiative, a ballot committee registered last May (and bearing the same name as the group that lobbied in support of a similar measure that failed to garner sufficient signatures to make it on the ballot in 2008) has received more than $31,000 in donations in the last year.  In addition to receiving roughly $1,000 leftover from the 2008 committee coffers, the Arizona Civil Rights Initiative has received three donations: $18,000 (on June 5, 2009), $8,000 (on December 2, 2009) and $5,000 (on February 5, 2010) from the American Civil Rights Committee (ACRC) — the committee responsible for ACRI. The ACRC is headquartered in Sacramento, California; thus, these donations represent more than $31,000 of out-of-state money being poured into Arizona from a single group in California, to change the Constitution of this state.

Of the $32,000.99 that the Arizona Civil Rights Initiative has received over the last year, $26,513.12 has been paid to a single source: KRB Consulting, a political lobbying firm in Phoenix. KRB received two payments of roughly $8,800 on June 29, 2009, and has a third payment of approximately $8,800 last December. This year, a web and graphics design company, Integrated Web Strategies, was an additional beneficiary of the ACRC’s deep pockets: they received a payment of $5,000 for “professional services – web/graphic design” on February 10th, 2010. For a group whose 2008 website was a carbon copy of the ACRI’s central website, $5,000 seems an awful steep price to pay for web services. But, I guess if you’re capable of funnelling more than half a million dollars into another state to buy an election (as occurred for the 2008 attempt to place this measure on the ballot), a mere $5,000 is just pocket change.

We can conclude one thing from all of this: Ward Connerly’s not going to let a little thing like money stop him from buying himself a political victory in Arizona this November.

Cross-posted: Blog for Arizona

Why Asians Don’t Always Vote for Barry Wong

Raise your fist in the air and scream it with me now: “BARRY WO-O-O-O-ONG!!!”

Here’s my latest post over at Change.org:

Why Asians Don’t Always Vote for Barry Wong

Are you asking yourself: who the heck is Barry Wong? My friend asked himself the same thing the other day while we were driving, and I — for no apparent reason — gripped the steering wheel with both hands and screamed the name “Barry WO-O-O-NG” at the top of my lungs. My friend nearly jumped out of the car in surprise.

Across the country, elections are just around the corner, and that means one thing: it’s campaign sign season. Here in Tucson, these signs touting the names of candidates like Barry Wong grace almost every street corner, sprouting like multi-colored weeds from the fertile sand of abandoned lots, construction sites and traffic medians.

In a state where Asian-Americans represent less than 3% of the population, it often feels like I’m the only Asian American in a two-mile radius. For that reason, I feel an electric thrill whenever I see a Barry Wong sign. Barry Wong was, and is, the only Asian-American in Arizona state politics, and he is running for re-election this year for Arizona Corporation Commission. (Don’t know what the the Committee does? Don’t worry — neither do most Arizona voters.) Nowadays, it’s a ritual for me to scream out my “support” for Barry Wong every time I pass one of his campaign signs — in part because they are hilariously over-sized, and in part because I feel a sense of pride and kinship seeing a fellow Asian-American run for office out here in crazy, crazy Arizona.

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