On Oct. 6 in this space, comment was made about the race toward the center between the two contestants for the U.S. House in District 8, two-term incumbent Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and Republican challenger Jesse Kelly.
Some people interpreted that opinion writing as an endorsement of Giffords, and they wrote critical letters to the editor, which were published. Interestingly, the Giffords campaign took great exception to the editorial, and called to express their upset. Guess the editorial reached for the center as well. And there can be no doubt that the Democrats are on edge in 2010, as any party would be at the mid-term of a presidency.
The Giffords campaign has been persistent, much more so than the Kelly camp, in seeking editorial endorsements from newspapers. "If the media wants to be relevant, it has to be relevant" and endorse candidates, she said on a on a recent Saturday. Kelly could not be reached for similar conversation.
Giffords is personable … and persuasive. She is relatively moderate, able to listen, and able to change her mind. Giffords is not perfect, certainly. Still, this writer suggests a vote for Giffords in the Tuesday election.
Some words about Jesse Kelly. He's a good man, family man, military veteran. Terrific presence. Strong words, and strong beliefs. If he loses Tuesday — indications are it's relatively close — he should stay active in public life. Experience would help. Good campaigner, and his efforts —along with those of like-minded groups — have put Giffords on the defensive.
She responds well. Did Giffords help "bail out Wall Street?" She points out that President Bush approached Congress two years ago and said if it did not act, there would be no economy in a week. Giffords voted against TARP the first time. The market lost $1.3 trillion in a day. Her constituents called back. Of the $700 billion authorized to save Wall Street, $380 billion was actually spent, and more than half has been paid back, with interest, thus far.
America was in "the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression," Giffords said "People elected me for the hard votes. Had we not done this, the economy would have completely collapsed."
She defends her record on border security. Yes, it's true, were she in the Arizona Legislature, she would not have voted for 1070. "It does absolutely nothing to secure the border," Giffords reasons. From Washington, she worked to get the National Guard on the border, add Border Patrol agents, and provide funding to secure the border. It's a very complex, difficult problem.
"It's easy to film a TV commercial," Giffords said. "It's harder to solve the problem."
Did she vote to cut $500 billion from Medicare? "It's not true," Giffords said. The vote cuts overpayments and insurance company subsidies, she claims, and it extends the solvency of Medicare from 2016 into the end of the 2020s.
She recognizes the country has a large debt, and large deficit spending, and her party must come to terms with those problems. "The former administration spent a lot of money, and made a lot of mistakes," she said. Giffords voted for a bipartisan debt and deficit commission to "take this out of the hands of the legislators."
Giffords repeatedly makes reference to her moderation. She says the partisanship in Washington is "ridiculous," and non-productive. "This is serious stuff, these are serious problems. We've got to figure out how to pull together. Anger without solutions doesn't solve problems."
She's right. Giffords is better positioned to help solve heavy matters.
One vote suggestion, to the good people of the Marana Unified School District. We suggest a "yes" vote on the district's $43 million bond proposal.
Yes, it's a lot of money. Yes, times are difficult. But if our schools are the heart of our communities, and our schools are in need of maintenance, and state government may no longer have the money … what is the choice? There's really one – invest in our school buildings, buses and facilities. In so doing, we invest in our children, and ourselves.
Oh, and one more election suggestion. Vote. Please vote. Think of it as your ticket to complain about what happens.