Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Great Debate

Actually it was a candidate's forum. This evening, the Little Colorado River Democrats hosted a debate for Democratic candidates running against Rick Renzi in Arizona congressional district 1.

Five Democrats are running. The 'presumed' front-runner (as annointed by the media and the national party in the absence of any data) is Ellen Simon, but she missed the debate because she was in Washington chasing campaign dollars (pretty much lost my vote, which was ripe for the picking when she made that choice-- that's how Rick Renzi does things, and I don't think we can beat Rick Renzi by running Rick Renzi against him.) I did talk to her husband, who was there, and the president of our club read a fax she sent but other than that, she was mostly present only by being the subject of barbs by some of the other candidates.

The four candidates who were there had a lively forum. They were Mike Cacciopoli, Bob Donahue, Susan Friedman and Vic McKerlie (although we drew randomly for it, they ended up sitting in alphabetical order across the stage.) Winslow city councilwoman Sue Bumpus moderated the debate and the panel was composed of reporters from the Arizona Daily Sun, the Winslow Mail and the Navajo Times.

Clearly Cacciopoli was the most inspiring speaker, and I would have to say that he won the debate. He did say a couple of things that raised a few eyebrows, including his call for a special prosecutor to be called to investigate whether Bush broke any laws before and during the Iraq war. A friend of mine who described herself as 'anti-Cacciopoli' before the debate said that he may have opened a window for her. For me too-- he is right about nearly every issue-- but I'm having a tough time with a huge one.

And that huge one is that he won't necessarily endorse the winner. We both know that means that if he loses and Ellen Simon wins then he probably won't endorse her (as being a 'party' candidate, as opposed to a grassroots candidate. One of the questions from the audience asked whether each candidate would support any of the others, and Mike was very hesitant to answer this question.

Susan Freidman came across as sincere, progressive and thoughtful (which those of us who have talked to her before know is the case). She has worked very hard over the years for the party, and she did run for the legislature one year. She has very little charisma, but she is right on the issues.

Bob Donahue, who also ran in the 2004 primary against Paul Babbitt, is a Vietnam veteran who made it clear that he believes that we are repeating the same mistakes we made there in Iraq. On social issues, he seemed to trend more to the center. He also has thought things through quite a bit, and made a very strong case for raising the minimum wage, cutting through the rhetoric of Republicans who claim it will cost jobs by asking how many jobs that today pay $5.15 an hour aren't in fact worth $7.00 an hour. And his point is accurate-- very few of them aren't worth that. In places where the job market is tight (though not here, unfortunately) even traditional minimum wage jobs (i.e. burger flipper) often pay $7 or more an hour.

Vic McKerlie sort of unimpressed me. He's a good guy and he's right about the need for health care for all Americans, but his first question was about proposition 200 (the Republican party's 'baby' on last election's ballot which as interpreted by Jan Brewer will likely disenfranchise a lot of Navajos and other minority voters) and he wasn't even sure what 'prop 200' was. Then on so many other issues, and especially on immigration and Iraq, he sounded like he's been listening to Rush, or at least reading Republican talking points. If he is the nominee I will support him but I became convinced last night that I won't support him in the primary. That's OK, because he probably won't win.


Lammy said...

I don't get it. Are you saying that we should support someone we don't agree with just because they beat us? That sounds sort of like selling out. It sort of sounds like how people like Hitler got in power by others having to support him even if they disagreed because he won popular opinion at the time. Now I am confused. What does Freedom mean if we aren't allowed to oppose someone we disagree with. Or am I just missing something here. It seems Bush won because of Party loyalty even when many of his party didn't agree with him.

Indy Voter said...

That's always a tough question for primary candidates to answer, and I wouldn't write off a candidate too quickly for giving an unsatisfactory response the first time it's asked. You want to say you'll support your party's nominee, but you may intensely dislike your opponent and not want to give him/her the satisfaction of saying they're actually acceptable candidates. If you're really cheeky you could answer, "Of course, since I'll be the nominee." or words to that effect, but not everyone can pull off that response convincingly.

Good luck with the campaign, btw. It's great you're putting in this effort, and I wish your organization well.

Eli Blake said...


it seems that Bush won because of party loyalty even when many of his party didn't agree with him.


Unfortunately, Republicans have always been very good at keeping their people together (one reason they are the majority party). Additionally, not being willing to support a nominee indicates that someone is not a team player, and it is a fact that politics is a team endeavor (sometimes it's easy to forget that since when you work on a campaign you are trying to put one person's name out in front and keep everyone else in the background.) In a place like Congress, should we be lucky enough to beat Mr. Renzi (which to be honest I would consider unlikely at the moment) it is important that our nominee be willing to work with other Democrats, because they range across the political spectrum. Further, to have any chance at all to even beat Mr. Renzi, we have to come together after the primary and work hard together. We didn't do that after the primary in 2002 (when George Cordova surprised everybody while two or three other major candidates split the vote) and it cost us dearly. We now know that Richmond Rickey (who still lives in Virginia pretty much full time by the way) bought that election with illegal money but in the end, he had the seat and Democrats who hoped to win the seat were left with nothing.

Indy Voter:

We'd asked Cacciopoli that question before, when he came to one of our club meetings. Thanks for the encouragement. And we will do well in and around Winslow, I think-- we got nine precinct committeepeople there this year (not counting the LCRD President, who lives just over the county line in Coconino county and so can't be a P.C. in Navajo county) plus two more in Joseph City, compared to zero this year in that same area for the Republicans. Overall, we have a 28-17 advantage this year countywide in precinct committeepersons (the county commission in order to avoid having to print two sets of primary ballots-- one for party members and one for independents (who can't vote for the position of p.c.) just declared all precinct committeepeople who had filed by their deadline as 'automatically elected', which compares to a huge advantage the Republicans enjoyed in our county in 2004 (when we had only 16 elected p.c.'s and they had over forty.)

Lizzy said...

Hey Eli, sorry I have been busy with the Hall Campaign. Rose had a birthday and got some tough news.

It's too late to think tonight, I will make a more appropriate comment tomorrow, or rather later today.


Anonymous said...

Courage Vic pour les élections ! Les Etats-Unis d'Amérique sont un magnifique et accueillant pays. Il a besoin d'hommes comme toi pour rayonner davantage et donner le meilleur de lui-même. Bravo pour ta détermination de marathonien ! Et vive l'Arizona !
de Jean-Pierre.

Anonymous said...

Caccupoli declares war on Democratic party!
Mike Caccupoli refused to say he would endorse Ellen Simon should she win the democratic primary and compared her to Rick Renzi. He pronounced himself as the winner of a debate in Winslow. Sorry Mike that was no debate. State democratic officials have called Caccupoli an embarrrasment to the party. His is busy digging up dirt and trying to smear other candidates. Just the type of person we don't need in Congress. After ten months of aggressive campaigning. He has little money and no support. Who is Mike Cappupoli. He says he has been uemployed for the last two years and before that he lived with his mother. He has no formal education.He claims to be a talk show host and producer, but thats not true is it Mike? People need to know who Mike Cappupoli really is.
Lyn Campbel

Eli Blake said...


You are responding to what I wrote on the 20th.

And at the time I was completely undecided, but I wrote that he was the winner because I was at the Winslow debate and of the four candidates who were there (Simon being absent) he was the most articulate and also the most consistently right on the issues. Most of the people who were at the debate had the same impression I did. I've since had a chance to listen to Simon. She is charismatic (as is Cacciopoli, the two of them much more than the other three candidates) but I don't happen to believe that she is as articulate on the issues as he is and sometimes seems to waffle on an answer.

And at the time I wrote the post you entered this comment on, I said that I would not endorse Mike if he didn't commit to endorsing the winner. He has since committed to it (and so posted on my blog this past Monday [see here.])

I won't endorse anyone who does not commit to endorsing the winner if they don't win the primary, but Mike Cacciopoli has now said that he will (and put it in writing, in the post I just linked to-- because believe me, if Simon wins the primary and he then does not endorse her I will be the first one to pull out his comments and throw it back at him).