When circular firing squads converge - The Explorer: Editorials

When circular firing squads converge

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Posted: Wednesday, November 11, 2009 12:00 am | Updated: 1:22 pm, Mon Apr 18, 2011.

Reading military history, you notice battles where both sides bungled badly and the decision was resolved by something other than great leadership.

It is not without relevance that in the 2,000 years between Alexander and Frederick, few others were known as the great. The recent Tucson election was a classic example.

Early on, the local GOP leadership and a group of nominally Republican businessmen decided it was finally time to replace the twits on the Tucson City Council. Recruiting moderate Democrats to run in primaries is an option now precluded by the general leftward movement of the Democratic Party, particularly in Wards 3 and 6. The only option for change was electing Republicans.

Having accepted the myth that Republicans are too badly outnumbered, at 24 percent registration, to win without some political talisman (a myth clearly refuted by minimal fact-checking — GOP registration was 24 percent in the '50s, when Republicans had the mayor and all six council seats and Democrats were at 64 percent as opposed to 40 percent now) they sought help from a Phoenix political consultant.

The advice, apparently based on rudimentary polling data, was to drop a bundle not on a direct assault but on an oblique move based on a public safety initiative that was supposed to draw out voters more inclined to elect council candidates who supported it. This became the now infamous Prop. 200, ultimately defeated 70-30.

Other advice included having the GOP legislature change Tucson elections to non-partisan and by ward, a move almost as addled.

There is no such thing as a non-partisan election. It's a goody-two-shoes myth. Democrats have known this for years. Note their direct involvement in Marana, Oro Valley and Sahuarita elections. Republicans claim "there's no Democrat or Republican way to empty a garbage can." Horsepucky. Democrats want it done by public employee union members, Republicans by a private hauler.

While election by ward is something some support in principle, GOP Councilman-elect Steve Kozachik is already a one-termer in a ward he just lost to a dingbat. Four of the six wards will be Democrat for quite a while, and the other two could be too if the GOP is dumb enough to drink non-partisan Kool-Aid.

Too many local Republicans are like a battered spouse who's husband didn't whomp them this week, exulting over Steve's election, just missing by 200 votes in Ward 3, and getting 47 percent in Ward 5 for a guy some wrote off. Reality check — the glass is 2/3 empty. If the business guys hadn't blown 400 grand on Prop 200, they could have put the other two over the top.

What saved Kozachik besides a tough campaign by himself was that Democrats formed a circular firing squad of their own. Panicked over the possible loss of funding by other city programs to public safety if 200 passed, they rallied around public employees and various artsy-craftsies to attack it. They were tactically brilliant in making it a fight against higher taxes, but strategically inept by raising the turnout among Tea Party-type independents who then voted against incumbents and their ally. All they did was beat 200 by a wider margin while almost beating themselves.

Like all battles where the high command is faulty, there were numerous instances of those on both sides more than carrying their loads. I do not wish to disparage any individual until things are further sorted out, but it should be clear that there are some overpaid consultants who deserve to be recognized and humiliated along with the rubes who pay them with other people's money. Stay tuned for the next issue.

Hear Emil Franzi and Tom Danehy Saturdays 1-4 p.m. on KVOI 1130AM.

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