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Fight For Flake’s Senate Seat… Candidates Eager To Win, But Seasoned Aide Cautions On D.C. Dirt

August 15, 2018 Frontpage No Comments

By DEXTER DUGGAN

PHOENIX — “All candidates have warts. You have to find the less warty” among the hopefuls, an experienced political aide told a Tea Party group’s evening meeting here as Arizona’s upcoming primary election on August 28 had voters pondering whom to pick.
Earlier during the July 30 meeting, Marcus Kelley, who worked both at the Arizona State Capitol and in Washington, D.C., expressed strong doubt that all political corruption can be swept away, although he didn’t defend it.
“Just the thought we are going to clean up the corruption in Washington, D.C. — we are fooling ourselves,” said Kelley, the administrative assistant to conservative Republican Andy Biggs when Biggs was president of the Arizona Senate.
Biggs subsequently was elected in 2016 to represent Arizona’s Fifth Congressional District, which runs along the eastern edge of the Phoenix metropolitan area, and has been an outspoken voice in the U.S. House.
The “swampiness” that President Trump opposes doesn’t exist only on the federal level, Kelley told the Arizona Project Tea Party meeting, but at the lower tiers of government, too, including the Arizona legislature.
“I think it’s more than we possibly can clean up. . . . I have libertarian leanings,” Kelley said. “I don’t think government is good.”
Two days later, on August 1, political maneuvering for Arizona’s open U.S. Senate seat on the ballot this year was a topic on James T. Harris’ “The Conservative Circus” talk program on Phoenix-based KFYI (550 AM).
Guest Constantin Querard, a political consultant and frequent source for The Wanderer, told Harris that he doesn’t think former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is in this Senate race to win, but only to deny the GOP nomination to one of the other two Republicans vying for the seat, conservative Kelli Ward, a physician and former state senator.
The third GOP candidate, the establishment-favored Cong. Martha McSally, benefits if Arpaio splits the conservative vote with Ward.
Also, Querard said, all of Arpaio’s tweets were attacking Ward, not McSally, which raised the question for Querard of whether Arpaio knows what’s in tweets being sent out in his name.
Querard told Harris that he thinks the most of the vote that McSally could get is 43 percent — hardly a majority.
Arpaio and Ward faced off against each other at a candidate forum in Phoenix for a little more than an hour on the following day, August 2. McSally declined an invitation to join them.
The two candidates were given high-legged chairs with backs on them, sort of like bar stools, as they sat to the left of moderator Alice Lara, co-host of the Hispanic-toned “Chips ‘n’ Salsa” program podcast.
Often keeping his arms crossed over his chest as he waited his turn to speak, Arpaio seemed edgy at a question from the audience about whether someone was paying him to run for the seat, and would he consider dropping out?
Ward is the one who should drop out, the 86-year-old Arpaio said, because he has more experience than she.
Apparently displeased over being asked whether he was paid to run, Arpaio said flatly, “The answer is no. . . . I don’t know what that question means.”
Of these three candidates, Ward got into the Senate race first, scaring unpopular incumbent GOP Sen. Jeff Flake from seeking a second Senate term in 2018. Flake dropped out with a surprise announcement on October 24, 2017.
Arpaio announced his entry on January 9, 2018, quickly followed by McSally. Although McSally’s campaign commercials speak of how tough she is, she waited more than two months after Flake’s exit to jump in, and was wooed into the race by establishment-oriented Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.).
On August 1 KFYI talk host Harris repeated his previously expressed view that McSally wouldn’t be in this race if Ward hadn’t made Flake drop out, which induced McSally to come “parachuting” in for the establishment.
Having been defeated for re-election as Maricopa County sheriff in 2016 by establishment-favored Democrat Paul Penzone, Arpaio suddenly found himself with more time on his hands after serving six four-year terms as sheriff.
Various observers thought Arpaio simply craved the usual attention back in the public arena in January as a Senate hopeful, as well as being a true admirer of Trump’s agenda and hoping to help advance it. However, as time passed, some began to question Arpaio’s motivation.
Asked by The Wanderer if he’d changed his opinion on Arpaio in this race, political consultant Querard replied on August 2: “I have evolved in my thinking. As time has gone on, he’s exclusively attacked Ward. And it picked up just in time for early balloting. There may be a disconnect between his wishes and his campaign team’s message, but even if he’s not in it for McSally, his campaign team clearly is.”
Apparently acknowledging possible voter concerns about his age, the healthy Arpaio has sworn to serve only one six-year term if elected to the upper chamber.
Although it’s welcome if a politician doesn’t intend to try to serve in Washington for decades, intentionally serving only one term deprives his party of the advantages of incumbency and experience when the very next election rolls around.
During the August 2 candidate forum, Ward said, “I am a term-limits person. . . . Twelve years is long enough for anyone to be in Washington….I don’t believe in career politicians.” Sen. John McCain had been there for nearly 40 years, and Flake for nearly 20, she said.
Both McCain and Flake served in the U.S. House before being elected as senators.
In her opening remarks, Ward said that now “we are experiencing American exceptionalism like we haven’t seen before,” due to Trump, but liberals want to drag the nation back.
Ward asked the overflow audience of perhaps 100 people in one dining area of a Mexican restaurant if they wanted another McCain or Flake filling the Senate seat. She received shouts of “No!” She said she wants to be the person “who’ll bring your great ideas” to the Senate floor.
Asked what would be the one thing he’d want Trump to do if he could, Arpaio replied, “Be himself, period. I love that guy. I’ve been with him from Day One. . . .
“I’m not going to Washington to make a career out of this job,” Arpaio added. “. . . You know I’m not a rubber stamp.”
If there’s a problem, he said, “I’ll take care of business in the back room” instead of doing “bad mouth” out in public. He wants the GOP “to get together to beat the Democrats,” Arpaio said.
Ward, replying to the same question, said, “I hope President Trump will continue to do what he has been doing,” from recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel to getting out of the Iran deal. “When America is better, the entire world is a better place.”
If Obamacare is repealed, Arpaio was asked, what should follow it? Things should go back to where they used to be, he said, when a person could go to one’s own doctor.
Answering the same question, Ward said, “This is my area of expertise. I will tell you we need to have full repeal of Obamacare.”
If a surgeon deals with a cancer, she said, the answer is to “cut it out,” instead of replacing it with another one or waiting around for the government to bring an answer.
Ward said she had successfully sponsored a bill in the Arizona Senate to allow insurance across state lines, but the measure couldn’t get a hearing in the Arizona House because of lobbyists’ influence.
She added later, “If Obamacare had not raised its ugly head, I would not have gotten into the arena” of politics.
Asked to state his priorities if he were to be elected, Arpaio included having the U.S. military go into Mexico, with the agreement of the Mexican government, to wipe out the drug trade there.
Before becoming sheriff, Arpaio served with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, including time in Mexico.
Arpaio told an audience questioner that he doesn’t read every tweet that goes out in his name — which served to answer Querard’s speculation on the Harris radio program the previous day about whether the former sheriff knows what’s in his tweets.
Querard told The Wanderer that one Arpaio tweet “made reference to lefties suffering from ‘libtarditis.’ Not a huge deal, but he had no idea where it came from, which was the point.”
For her part, Ward told the forum, “The tweets come from me. I know what the tweets say and I take responsibility for them.”
After the forum, The Wanderer encountered the chairman of the Arizona Project Tea Party, Ron Ludders, in the audience, and asked his opinion of the two candidates. Although Ludders said he hadn’t decided whom he’ll vote for, “I think the real person was Joe. She sounded too canned.”
On a different topic, The Wanderer asked Ward if she thought it was time for the ill McCain, suffering from aggressive brain cancer, to resign his Senate seat. McCain hasn’t been in Washington since last December.
Ward replied, “It’s up to him. The ball is in his court. We’ve got to move forward….We need to pray for him and hope he’ll make the right decision for the people of this state and the people of this nation. I’m laser-focused on this race” of her own.

Turning Their Backs On God

No doubt these candidates had high hopes. But Marcus Kelley, the political aide who spoke separately a few nights earlier to the Arizona Project Tea Party meeting, didn’t sound encouraging about defeating corruption on July 30.
“I promise you that is exactly the way things are done in Congress,” Kelley said, referring to buying congressional chairmanships for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Nor will term limits fix the problem, Kelley said, because if members are term-limited, that only makes elements like money, staff, and lobbyists more powerful.
Although he was pleasantly surprised at the “great job” Trump has been doing as a conservative president, Kelley asked whether people think the condition of the United States is pleasing to God now.
“In the Bible, Israel was punished multiple times because they turned their backs on God,” he said.

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