Thursday, December 14, 2017

Election 2018: The US Senate is in play and “Arizona votes may just matter like they never have before.

Joe Ferguson at the Arizona Daily Star reports on CD2 with the announcement that Hispanic Chamber CEO Lea Márquez-Peterson enters Southern Arizona’s CD2 race. However, Márquez-Peterson promises to withdraw should current CD2 Republican Rep. Martha McSally run for reelection in CD2.

But the bigger story is what may happen to Arizona’s two US Senate seats with Flake not running and McCain’s uncertain health.

McSally’s silence on her political ambitions is a course of lots of speculation. Scriber’s favorite is this column by Blake “What the Devil won’t tell you” Morlock in the Tucson Sentinel, Showstopper: Ala. result means Senate control will rest with Az voters. 2 branches of government on the line; 2 Senate races possible here next year. Snippets follow.

We’ll have at least one hotly contested U.S. Senate race here next year, and it’s a distinct possibility we’ll have two happening at the same time. And control of the U.S. Senate will be on the line.

U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake announced in November he would not seek a second term in the Senate, just as hard-charging Democrat Kyrsten Sinema stepped up and conservative insurgent Kelli Ward, a former state representative, surged forth in the polls. Were it not for the Jones win in Alabama, Democrats could win Arizona’s Senate seat but in the best-case scenario, that would still leave the party in a 50–50 tie with the GOP. Vice President Mike Pence would break the tie and let the Republicans organize the majority. Arizona would be relevant but less than decisive.

Well, that all changed Tuesday night [with the election of Alabama Democrat Doug Jones to the US Senate].

The road for control of the Senate now runs down Speedway, up Central Avenue, traces along Montezuma in Prescott and threads through Broad Street in Globe to the railroad tracks in Flagstaff.

No Democrat has been elected to the U.S. Senate from Arizona since 1988 but we have been inching into the purple.

A lot of smart people on the right are going to dismiss the [AZ Rep. Kyrsten] Sinema threat. They’re kidding themselves. I’m not her biggest fan, but she is very smart, she works her ass off and she’s moved in Congress from the far left to the hippie-punching middle. She’s lost liberal friends but those butt-hurt lefties have seen the fruits of treating former friends like abject enemies. They got Donald Trump. Trump’s been nothing but kicking them in the ribs for going on a year. To fight back, they’ll have to vote for Sinema. So liberals will likely show that minimum degree of horse sense. I’m reaching, but we’re seeing it in Virginia and Alabama.

I have yet to mention U.S. Rep. Martha McSally for an uncomfortable reason. I have no doubt that we’ve seen the last of her re-election bids for the U.S. House of Representatives. Lea Marquez Peterson, head of the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, is a McSally supporter running for her House seat. Like everyone else, I’m making the obvious assumption that Peterson got the congresswoman’s “all clear.”

The question is (shift in my seat and figure out how to phrase it) whether McSally seeks Flake’s seat or holds out for U.S. Sen. John McCain’s. Captain Straight Talk is not doing well. A nasty strain of cancer has struck his brain. How much longer will he be in office? It would be terrible if illness cut his life and career shorter than it would be otherwise, but if happens Arizona is out two incumbents.

McSally could be appointed by Gov. Doug Ducey to take McCain’s seat and then have to stand for election at the soonest possible date. The good news for her would be that McSally could ascend to the Senate without facing a primary against “Chemtrail” Kelli Ward or a general election race against Sinema. But that seat may also be put before the voters next August (in the primaries) and November (to determine who’ll fill out the remainder of the term, through 2020).

Sinema can take Ward, who is running as Trump’s affirmation.

I get that would be a preferable path on one level but it’s less than ideal. I can’t imagine McSally would enjoy being caught waiting on McCain and depending on Ducey to appoint her. That’s a lot of moving parts and some icky karma.

But it’s a very possible scenario and it also explains why she’s taking so long to announce her bid.

The point is: Arizona could have two Senate seats on the ballot in the same year with control of the Senate on the line. That would be a political showstopper.

In the increasingly unlikely event McCain stays healthy and in office, McSally would have to duke it out with Ward in a nasty primary. Already, the culture warriors and laissez faire conservatives are lining up for Ward and against the Tucson Democrat. The big-business guys at Club for Growth and the Koch brothers’ Freedom Works are already on board for Ward. Ken Cuccinelli and the godfather of the Religious Right, Richard Viguerie, have pledged to beat McSally because she doesn’t suit up for the culture war (she just fought in real ones, but that’s not enough).

As an aside, Arizona’s almost certainly going to send our first female senator to D.C. We’ve sent 12 men over the century Arizona’s been a state, and this time, all of the top-level candidates are women: Ward and McSally on the GOP side, and Sinema and political newcomer Deedra Abboud for the Dems. What remains to be seen is which other candidates might yet jump in, especially on the Democratic side if that second seat is in play, but they’d face an uphill climb.

A lot of smart people are going to be trying to sound smarter than they are by detailing exactly what Jone’s victory means for the midterm elections. I kinda doubt Democrats are going to be lucky enough to face Republicans as flawed as Moore. There are only so many mall-trolling, tween-chasing candidates who are nostalgic for the days of slavery.

Say what you want about Kelli Ward but she ain’t that.

I’m going to go with the one analysis I trust. That’s from Alabamian and former New York Times executive editor Howell Raines. That’s right. The great grey flagship of the media elite was once run by a good-old boy from the South. Raines makes the case that Moore represents the fading glory of George Wallace’s Alabama. Much less eloquently, Charles Barkley hit the note with Trumpian aplomb telling Alabamians,”At some point, we gotta stop looking like idiots to the nation.” That’s would seem to be a Deep South thing aimed at the suburbs.

Moore was never that popular with Alabamians and the president picked Election Day to send out the most vile tweet of the Trump era. He called a sitting U.S. senator a slut performing sexual favors for campaign cash. Y’know, just in case women in suburban Birmingham were on the fence.

The effect of Alabama’s vote in a unique race will be overstated. Democrats can roll back into control of the House with the kind of turnout they showed in Virginia and Alabama. The Senate hasn’t been in play until now.

At some point in the coming months, the national political press will look at the map and their eyes will fall down to the bottom left side. They’ll be on a plane for Sky Harbor, about to learn the glory of bacon-wrapped hot dogs. Arizona votes may just matter like they never have before.

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