Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Research report - Krysten Sinema's votes reveal progressive values ...

… but her staff needs to work on people skills.

GV News Editor Dan Shearer published an editorial in the June 3rd edition, Campaign 101: How not to do it. He was quite critical of Rep. Krysten Sinema (AZ CD9) and some of her staff. Here is a sample.

Sinema is a Democrat running for U.S. Senate. She’s up against a doesn’t-have-a-chance candidate in the primary and is raking in the campaign donations. A lot of people believe in her.

I received a call from a campaign aide last week who said Sinema would be in Green Valley and would like to come by the paper. No problem, I said.

Then she told me I’d have all of 15 minutes with her.

Not enough, I said. I need at least a half hour. I explained that we don’t endorse, but if candidates care enough to come through our community, we’ll meet with them and write a column about where they stand on the issues, particularly those specific to us.

She listened politely, then said that Rep. Sinema had official congressional duties mixed with campaign work and was really, really busy.

Here is another sequence.

… I asked what Sinema would be doing in Green Valley. She avoided the question the first time. Then I pressed. And pressed again. She seemed evasive and uncomfortable, so I took a wild guess: Private meeting with donors?

She neither confirmed nor denied. It’s not surprising. Money-grubbing is a necessary evil in politics.

You have to read the editorial to get the complete picture of his gripes, but here are some of my observations. First, in my prior life, I dealt with newspaper editors and reporters. My lesson learned was to be very nice to those folks. They were just as busy as I was. Moreover, they wield the power of the pen. You do not want to piss them off. Sinema’s staffer has yet to learn that most valuable lesson. The second observation concerned those evasions. In the absence of disclosure, many things other than the truth are possible and inferable. Shearer’s “wild guess” is one of those inferables. Third, I received an invitation to the “private meeting” stating that an RSVP was required for admission. (I did not attend.)

In the June 10 edition of the GV News, State Senator Andrea Dalessandro replied in the following letter to the editor.

Sinema supporter

I was disappointed in a recent editorial regarding Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema’s visit to Green Valley (“Campaign 101: How not to do it,” June 3). In my view, it was a complete mischaracterization of her time spent in our region. And I would know how her time was spent because I hosted the Congresswoman in my home.

At no point did she make a request for money. She introduced attendees to her background, the challenges her family faced, and how she draws upon her career working with Arizona students and families and her own life experience to get results for our state. Importantly, she also fielded questions.

I know that Congresswoman Sinema doesn’t need me to come to her defense — but I do feel the need to raise my voice when it’s on my turf. I hope that my home is a welcoming place. I may not be able to hold all of Green Valley in my living room, but I was happy to bring together dozens and dozens of Arizonans to meet a strong, independent-minded female candidate for U.S. Senate. I look forward to her returning to our region as the campaign continues and will be proudly standing with her in November.

Andrea Dalessandro, Sahuarita

Whether Shearer’s editorial was “a complete mischaracterization” I leave to you to decide. I’ve got another set of questions about this “strong, independent-minded female candidate for U.S. Senate” and why our LD2 Senator Dalessandro “will be proudly standing with her in November.” To address these questions I consulted public sources of voting records.

Ballotpedia “is the online encyclopedia of American politics and elections. Our goal is to inform people about politics by providing accurate and objective information about politics at all levels of government. We are firmly committed to neutrality; here’s why. Ballotpedia’s articles are 100 percent written by our professional staff.”

Sen. Dalessandro’s voting record based on several score cards reported in her Ballotpedia entry seems to me to be about as close to a true progressive as you can get. On the left, organizations like Planned Parenthood and the Sierra Club give her perfect scores. On the right, organizations like Americans for Progress and Center for Arizona Policy give her failing grades. I took a sample of several of those scores and calculated a median of about 93% progressive.

For Sinema’s record in the U. S. House, I used 538’s Tracking Congress In The Age Of Trump. An updating tally of how often every member of the House and the Senate votes with or against the president. One measure is “how often a member votes in line with Trump’s position.” Sinema scores 57.3% and is the third highest Democrat in the House in voting with Trump.

However, that percentage is misleading. Here is why. The percentage includes lots of bills that provide stop-gap funding to keep the government running or that deal with other budgetary matters. Votes for these kinds of routine bills will tend to inflate the percentage score - assuming we all want to keep our government running. (Disclosure: I’ve used that percentage score to criticize other candidates before. Now I have to reevaluate that practice.)

Instead of using the overall percentage we need to look at votes on legislation that matter to progressives, for example, denying funding for Planned Parenthood, punishing sanctuary cities, increasing the availability of guns, repeal of Dodd-Frank, and repeal of regulations that provide for clean air and water. I pulled the records for 33 such bills from January 1, 2017 to present. I counted the number of instances in which Sinema voted against legislation supported by Trump. Her score was 85% opposed to Trump’s position.

You might ask how good is that score. To establish bounds on that measure I used the same method to compute the progressive scores for Raul Grijalva (AZ CD 3) and Martha McSally (AZ CD2). Grijalva scored a perfect 100% opposed to Trump’s positions and McSally, voting almost entirely with Trump on everything, scored 3%. (By the way, Trump’s score on the same measure was a perfect 0%.)

At the time of this writing, it appears that a likely match-up for the AZ U. S. Senate seat will be between Sinema and McSally. When it comes to deciding on how to vote, if you want ideological purity, you could point to the difference between Sinema and Grijalva (100% - 85% = 15%) and stay home. But if you want to flip that seat held by Republican Jeff Flake to a Democrat, you should focus on the difference between Sinema’s progressive score vs. that of McSally (85% - 3% = 82%) and Get Out to Vote.

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