Thursday, September 23, 2010

Arizona District 28: The Strongest Candidates Have Shed Their Parties

It's seems Arizona, (aptly referred by John Stewart as the "Meth Lab of Democracy") might have one pocket that is slowly realizing the adverse effects of party politics. Two Independents, (Dave Ewoldt and Ted Downing) have emerged with strong impressions in this central Tucson district. The first, Dave Ewoldt, chose to break from the Green Party for a number of reasons, but his stated, primary reason is to shed himself of the spoiler image. Having recently witnessed the bizarre antics of entrenched Pima Green leaders wresting control of their sandbox, I would be surprised if credibility was not another factor. Dave Ewoldt contributed a great deal to the Pima Greens in the past few years and I had the opportunity to see his 2007 presentation of how the Green Party's 10 key values relate to the concept of relocalization, which is now a centerpiece in his campaign. Ewoldt's work with Sustainable Tucson and Natural Systems Solutions thoroughly resonates with the Green Party's philosophies.

Still, evidence of vindictiveness over Ewoldt's choice to go solo stands out as Pima County Greens refused to endorse Dave Ewoldt, despite the fact there are no Green candidates in the district. Some of the strongest Greens bucking the current power structure, however, are active members of Ewoldt's campaign. In fact, Ewoldt's campaign and unique hosting strategies have managed to attract a cross-breed of Democrats, Republicans, Greens, Libertarians and other Indies to his cause.

Similar political growing pains are evident with Ted Downing. Downing's stated reason for breaking with the Democratic Party is the stalemate brought on by adversarial party politics in Phoenix. I'll offer further conjecture by pointing out that Downing is a champion for election integrity. Perhaps the most ridiculous hypocrisy brought to light with the local Democratic Party is their opportunistic stance on election integrity. The 2006 RTA election debacle gained international attention, especially for the recent discovery of missing poll tapes. To any being with the capacity for reason, it becomes clear that Terry Goddard, the Democratic Gubernatorial candidate in Arizona (now the only opposition to the infamous Jan Brewer), participated in the cover-up of the 2006 RTA election. The height of this hypocrisy is demonstrated by Pima County Democratic party chair Jeffrey Rogers attacking those leading the charge for transparency via e-mail.

As we learned from the most recent court case in Maricopa County, AZ (the fourth largest voting district in the country), we honestly have no idea how these ultra-right wing clowns got into the state legislature. There is no reliance in the integrity of elections in both Pima County and Maricopa County. Why should Downing proceed as if the people of Arizona are truly represented and try to change the Phoenix governing structure to a unicameral house?

Many believe that the mysterious robo-calls against Downing in his last primary bid against incumbent for District 28 Paula Aboud was a form of retaliation for Downing's active construction and promotion of the Arizona's hand-count audit bill. The robo-calls were paid for by Arizona Republicans to help ensure a victory for Aboud, but no Republicans were running in that District's election. So why isn't Downing's campaign about renewed efforts to ensure fair elections in Arizona instead of changing the structure of a system so that it streamlines and bypasses checks and balances for more crappy bills to be passed?

After Ewoldt declared his independence, Downing also decided to pursue District 28's unique opportunity for an independent candidate and shed himself of his long career with the Democrats.

To his credit, Downing successfully makes the case for the Independents. One point has definitely irked the Democrats' camp (along with the Tucson Weekly) is his contention that, as an independent, he has a better chance of negotiating with the crazies in Phoenix. Party loyalists vehemently deny such an advantage but they protest too much. It's futile to deny that a new face will help and the inherent truth of this matter is what's truly bugging the Democrats. The only thing left for Aboud is to frighten the electorate with the spector of a neo-con Republican winning District 28.

Although I have great appreciation for Ted Downing's work in the past, I cannot honestly discern my confusion over his plans for the state government, especially given his understanding of how elections are failing us in this state. Like Paula Aboud, Downing truly seems like a band-aid for a broken system.

In a recent interview with Jonathon Simon, the elections analyst who spotted the disparity in exit polls in the 2004 presidential election, I learned that a safe margin for overcoming elections shenanigans is 20% for two people. That is, if you want to defeat what the establishment has appointed for office in a particular race you need to be out front with at least 20% in a race between two candidates.

How these numbers break down with four candidates is a mystery to me, but one hope comes to mind in this race -- that enough of the public decides skip the foreplay and vote for a real future. As a fan of both independent candidates, I have to thank Ted Downing for making the case for an independent candidate in this race and look to Independent candidate Dave Ewoldt for the future.

Establishment press would prefer that public does not see this debate, because it eventually becomes clear that Dave Ewoldt is the only viable choice for Arizona's District 28. The only Molotov cocktail in the meth lab.

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