Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Arizona CD 8: Latas Letter Writers…

…earn a great review for Gabrielle Giffords.

Man, I love the little ironies of politics. One of the interesting strategies of the Latas campaign has been its concentration on letter writing. Well, I suppose that may be its only strategy beyond appearances by the candidate himself. The campaign hasn’t been shy about writing to individual editors or reporters complaining about coverage of their candidate, either.

That letter writing has had an unintended consequence. It’s gotten some attention all right, but in the form of a long column by Billie Stanton praising Giffords. It appears on line today in the Tucson Citizen.

Stanton (pic above) comments, in part:

A letter in last week's Tucson Weekly snipes: "If Giffords inherits Jim Kolbe's office the same way she inherited her dad's tire shops . . . " Reality check: Giffords left a great gig with Price Waterhouse in New York when her ailing father asked her to come home and take the helm of his business.

He stepped down and she stepped in. Where I come from, that's called being a good daughter.

Besides, as president and CEO (never owner) of El Campo Tire Inc. from 1996 till 2000, when the family sold the business, Giffords kicked butt.

That was no surprise.

The Fulbright scholar already had worked as a binational business development planner for San Diego Dialogue. At Price Waterhouse, she had been an associate for regional economic development.

Let’s see now. Great business experience, excellent record in the Arizona legislature, and endorsed by three major unions. Who’d want her to represent us in Congress?


Anonymous said...

I appreciate that you are a supporter of Gabby but I don't think your logic really holds. You assert that has a good resume and therefore she'd be a good representative.

There are plenty in Congress with impressive resumes who have been unimpressive leaders. Frist had excellent medical training, served on the faculty of Vanderbilt University and is a heart surgeon. Not a fabulous leader, but certainly credentialed. The indicted Randy "Duke" Cunningham served more than 20 years in the Navy, then was a business person, then on to Congress. Even Kolbe looks good on paper -- went to Northwestern and Stanford, served in the Navy, was a business exec and served in Arizona Senate.

In my opinion, we have for too long been electing people who look good on paper, who we "think can win" without much regard for the beliefs they hold, the values they represent, their ability to listen to the electorate, and their ability to effect change in a very large organization called Congress.

I think we need to look long and hard at who is running and back someone who stands for progressive values; who says what they mean, means what they say. And for me, that isn't Gabby.

Kralmajales said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
cc burro said...

KRALMAJALES--I agree. Re criticizing other candidates, I have no problem if someone points out that someone has no legislative experience, or someone didn't like how someone voted on a particular issue--something specific that can be documented. But these generalized criticisms that I've been seeing on blogs with no backup do not "raise the level of debate" [which is so needed] and make the criticizer look obtuse, not credible, and desperate. Thus, they are NOT helping their candidate, and, as Art pointed out, actually hurting their candidate.

Quite dismaying to me, since I'm a strong Latas supporter.

ANONYMOUS--Obviously, a candidate's resume is a major factor in deciding on who to support, along with issue stances and whether or not that candidate's persona resonates with you.

sotto voce said...

Well, my take on anon's comment was that he/she is quibbling with Art's ipso facto conclusion that Giffords is best because her resume looks good. I give the writer some credit for substantiating their argument with some facts. I do think there is something to the writer's core criticism.

sotto voce said...

Thought of this after my other post, but I do believe it diminishes the debate to focus merely on who might win.

If everyone got together and supported a serious yet less well known candidate, that candidate could win. Barak Obama won with a name that sounded a lot like someone else none too popular. He had zippo in name recognition. So, in sum, I think it is a mistake to pile on early for someone who can "win it" -- why not back someone who represents us, holds the values that are important to us, and then work to elect that person.

As to supporters attacking other candidates and having it backfire, seems to me that is all part of the goings on of a campaign. Makes it all the more interesting to watch it unfold!

Thanks for listening.

Art Jacobson said...

Dear Anon...

Well of course you don't have to vote for Gabrielle. I support her because she does stand for progressive values. (That's why the unions endorsed her.)

She has a history of saying what she means and meaning what she says. That's how she earned her nickname "The Quorum Queen." When Republicans in the legislature tried to sneak through an after-hours vote on the budget she single-handedly stood and called for a quorum.

They couldn't raise one and the legislation died.

We can't predict the future. Weiss or Latas may turn out to be monsters of corruption. We can't tell. Randy Duke, as you point out, was a decorated war hero like Latas.

Not knowing the future I have to go with what I know right now about the candidates' beliefs, preparation, and how consistantly they have acted on their beliefs in the past.

We do know Giffords' "beliefs, values and her ability to listen to the electorate." She was a very effective legislator who successfully worked with moderate Republicans. (While any survived)

I am absolutely baffled by your resistance to my voting for someone I think can win. I'm not going to vote for someone I take to be a highly principled loser.

And when I have a chance I'll vote for an appropriate resume that shows what the candidate has done rather "no resume with claims of high principles."

This time around I'm a "Yellow Dog Democrat." I'll vote for whoever wins the primary, but I think Giffords has the best chance in the general.


Blue in AZ said...

I have several thoughts on this. First, I think it’s wrong on the part of Billie Stanton and Art to paint letters to the editor as from a particular campaign. I’m on the Latas campaign mailing list, and I have never seen anything coming from the campaign that encouraged personal attacks. Every campaign is going to attract a few people who are a bit overly partisan, to put it politely, but it doesn’t necessarily reflect on the campaign, and it certainly shouldn’t reflect on the candidate. For all we know, the letters could be coming from yet another campaign to make both Latas and Giffords look bad.

Second, the newspapers choose which letters to publish, and it looks like they’re choosing to publish the most incendiary. I have written many, many polite, logical letters that never get published. For the newspaper to turn around and then criticize a candidate or a campaign for the letters that they chose to publish says much more about the newspaper than it says about the campaign.

They say there's no such thing as bad publicity, so perhaps the attack on the Latas campaign will only serve to send voters to his Web site to check him out. I'm sure they'll be impressed.

Regarding the union endorsements: at a well-attended Democratic party meeting last night, an elected official asked a representative of the Giffords campaign whether or not all the candidates had been interviewed before the union endorsements were granted. The Giffords representative said she didn’t know. Another person in the audience commented that she had been at the forum, and all the candidates seemed to be pro-union. I think that this raises a good point about the validity of some endorsements, and whether they are truly “earned,” or if they are just all a part of politics as usual.

Art Jacobson said...

Dear Blue in Az,

You have a point that I take well. Although the Latas campaign has been urging supporters to write letters, the campaign itself probably should not be held officially responsible for any "loose canons" amongst supporters

The response to letters, however, should alert campaign leadership to the possible blow-back from overly enthusiastic letter writers.

Comments to The Data Port have been courteous, to the point, and well advised despite our different points of view. Hurrah!

I'm afraid, however, that we can all expect the general level of public discourse to become edgier and more aggressive as the campaign progresses.


GeoTuttle said...

Billie Stanton has a serious conflict of interest here.

Billie is on record with the Sec. of State giving money to AZ List. This is an organization that has publicly come out in favor of "Gabby" Giffords. The two Pams who are the directors of this PAC have given over $4.000 to "Gabby".

So is there a conflict of interest here? You had better believe it. So I would guess that Billie Stanton should be banned from posting any opinion column about this campaign again.

This is just another in the long line of crap that comes with the Giffords camp.

cc burro said...

The Stanton piece is very interesting/telling...Stanton, implies in the editorial that she is defending Weiss [along with Giffords], but does not include ANY positive remarks about Weiss. She doesn't mention Weiss' previous community service, but rather chooses to repeat the "teleprompter" remark from one of the letters [whereas the other letters referred to Weiss as a "newscaster" or "journalist"], and then CHOOSES to include the facts re Weiss' residence being outside of CD 8 and Weiss' name change. None of the published letters mentioned either of these last two [negative] facts. With defenders/friends like...who needs...?

cc burro said...

Editorialists regularly speak out against a perceived injustice. [The Latas letter writers brought up some substantive questions/concerns re media balance. However, the screwball criticisms they made of Giffords were unfair and unsubstantiated (AND undermined the credibility of the letters).]

However, if Stanton IS a Giffords supporter, she should state this in her editorial for the sake of media transparency.

That Stanton included unnecessarily not-too-subtle little jabs against Weiss leads me to believe that she certainly is not in the Weiss camp.


Kralmajales said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Art Jacobson said...

Dear George,

Ms Stanton is a member of the Citizen’s editorial department, and as such you may expect to find that her columns reflect her opinions. This is what one expects to find in an editorial section. I’m glad you’re reading The Data Port and happy to provide a space for your commentary, but the most efficient way to complain is to write the Citizen.

The Data Port reports…you decide.

I have no idea how the Union leadership decision-making process works and, let me suggest, I suspect you don’t either. I believe Ms Weiss actively sought support from the Union supporting her. I have no idea what the Latas folks did, but Unions do like to be asked.

As to your “long line of crap” line…that’s just what Stanton had in mind.



Anonymous said...

To all of you thrashing the union process:

I would tend to believe that because of the importance of this race, that all the unions are looking at the "viability" of winning this race for the Blue column - and if so, that they would be asked by candidates (that involves SOME legwork by them...) for their endorsement. Have all the candidates SOUGHT such endorsement?? Up to their camp to move on it ...

I want a candidate that can win, has done their homework, has the ability to connect with voters, has a track record of achievement and integrity, and is a proven vote getter - Gabby seems to fit that bill.

cc burro said...

Anonymous--Good points! He or she who does not even ask cannot expect to receive.

Anonymous said...

It is interesting to note that the first person to resort to name calling in this election is the editor of the Republican paper, in which she characterizes Latas supporters as lemmings. She should be aware that lemmings live on grass roots.

Of course Billie, along with other editors and some reporters, would like to name the front-runners. Personally, I think the voters of So. Arizona should choose their representatives, not Phoenix pols or newspaper editors.