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What the Devil won't tell you

Farley vs. Trump: Is spite enough?

Tucson Dem could ride a wave to gov seat or get trumped by GOP voters warming hands by dumpster fire

Steve Farley is running for governor. You can hear the “pfffts” from here. He's not from Phoenix. He's too liberal. The SOB went to art school. No way will he be governor of bidness-loving Arizona.

Gov. Doug Ducey will raise so much money, so fast from the kitten-grabbing Global Bro Posse that the state senator out of Tucson is toast before he starts.

The Democratic Chess Team of strategists has their prototypes and Sen. Farley ain't it. For them, you gotta be a woman, business-owning crime-fighting combat veteran who can't be tagged as being liberal by Republicans, who could successfully rebrand a right-wing military junta as Nancy Pelosi kommissars.

What the chess team means is a “liberal” can't raise money and that doesn't bode well for paid consultants with their eyes on Maui property and a third kitchen remodel for house number four.

The Know It All Media probably has a much simpler rationale for looking down their noses: Farley isn't from Phoenix. See, the thinking goes that unless there's substantial name recognition in Maricopa County, a Democratic candidate will get swamped by straight-ticket Republican voters.

I see that argument and raise you some snoot. In any normal year, he'd be set to lose by nine to 11 points, assuming he survives the primary against David Garcia (who didn't pull off what should've been a winnable 2014 race for Superintendent of Public Instruction against Diane Douglas). Farley can't beat Ducey in a normal year. But these aren't normal times.

Farley needs his base to turn out and the man can speak liberalese a lot better than most. Won't that undercut him with all those Republicans voters who decide what's what? If they don't turn out, it doesn't matter what they think of Farley.

Any Democrat has a case to make on the state of our state's education alone. Throw in an economy lagging with “tired, old” regimens of tax cuts and schools cuts, and that's just a three-point loss. But the landscape here will be determined by tectonics out there.

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The road to the governor's chair in Phoenix runs through Mar-a-Lago, Fla., and that's where it gets interesting because what may look like an imploding disaster may be, in fact, buyer satisfaction among the GOP.

The 2010 wave election put Republicans in governors' chairs in Maine, Iowa, Kansas and Tennessee. It could happen in Arizona.

You gotta look at the big numbers.

Nationally, the universe of voters who show up shrinks from 130 million during presidential elections to about 80 million during midterms. Turnout in Arizona shrivels from 2.5 million to 1.6 million. So the trick is mustering the army, not persuading the skeptical.

So we don't know who the hell is going to show up. Historically, it's almost dead certain that the party that just won the White House does more of the shrinking and the party that lost is eager for a rematch and turns out in bigger numbers.

Hillary Clinton won 1.2 million votes at the top of the Democratic ticket in 2016 and Ducey won 800,000 at the top of the ticket during the 2014 midterm. There's a Democratic electorate big enough to beat Ducey if it turns out at 2/3 the level it did for Hillary and the GOP stays home just a teensy bit more than it did in 2014.

Republicans have never turned out more than 45 million votes in a mid-term election. They've never turned out more than 40 million with a Republican in the White House. Democrats just turned out 66 million in the general and their rank-in-file are supposedly so apoplectic about Presdient Donald Trump they can barely do yoga. If George W. Bush inspired 45 million Democratic votes in 2006, then what does Trump mean as a unifying force next year? Is a 50 million to 40 million spread conceivable (note: we are talking votes cast in U.S. House races because the whole country votes for them and it's the easiest way to get a God's Eye view of the electorate)?

A 10-million-vote election victory for the Democrats would be unprecedented because a five-million vote victory is historically a mid-term wipe out. 

Don't be confused by the talk of chess out of the guys calling knight to queens seven. Democrats just have to play checkers: Simple moves. Direct attack, souls to the polls, go to Maui, upgrade that countertop to the really nice marble. Republicans are the ones who will try to appeal to Trump voters while showing independence from him. That's not chess. That's impossible.

Steve Farley first, a base man

Democrats would seem to control their destiny, which is never good news for the party.

The Democratic base is the key to a mid-term election because they just traditionally don't show up without a president at the top of the ticket. Liberals doesn't turn out so campaigns skew right to try to coax those who do vote to vote for them. The base then feels slighted even more and turns out even less.

Farley can speak to the base, if his team of consultants lets him.

Farley made a name for himself politically by challenging those of us who thought grade-separated interchanges were smart and light rail was stupid. He was the chief spokesman fighting a 2002 city transportation initiative that included provisions to shoot Campbell over Grant Road and 22nd Street. He looked like an effete artiste with one of those little beard dots beneath his lower lip and wearing glasses a French mime might choose.

Word, though, kept bubbling up: No, Farley is smart. He could handle all comers. Sure enough, his side won big at the ballot.

The next year, he backed an initiative to build a cross-town light rail line all the way down Broadway, with another route down South 6th Avenue. Voters nixed that, but Farley built up his public profile.

He then ran for City Council and lost in the primary to Nina Trasoff. Then he ran for the Legislature and won after gaining name recognition from his first failed bid (hint, that's a smart way to do it, aspiring politicos).

Republicans are probably salivating about the chance to savage a Tucson graphic artist who wants big new welfare state spending. At the same time, I guarantee you, there's a catch in their thought: No, Farley is smart.

See, he can articulate a message, though that may be a moot point in a state where the media devotes resources to a blow-by-blow election coverage. He'll have to spread his gospel block by block or have the ground rise under his feet.

A tale of two job reviews

But say that happens and Farley roars to 1 million votes. Who's to say Republicans won't show up, especially to defend Trump because he seems like such a disaster and not in spite of it? That's one we haven't seen before.

Political junkies see Trump's presidency as a spiraling failure by all metrics we know how to use. Job approval, achieving legislative victories, avoiding scandals and generally seeming up to the job. I'm not sure those metrics apply anymore to the Republican base.

So it comes down to a tale of two job reviews that reflect alternate realities facing side by side:

Professional development review by moderates and Democrats:

We are very disappointed in Donald's performance. Donald doesn't like it when we call him a fascist. So we will just point out that he is seeking to racially marginalize populations. He attacks the free press and intellectuals. He undoes alliances with free, democratic states to sidle up with authoritarian regimes. He has sought to avenge national humiliations. But even if Donald wants to be a fascist, he has proven astoundingly ineffective at it. He shows zero personal discipline and never misses an opportunity to undercut his own team by tweeting to satisfy his own personal sense of aggrievement.

All of this has meant that Donald couldn't score a single legislative achievement during his first 100 days. Health care reform should have been ready to go on Day 1. It wasn't. Tax cuts should already be done. They have barely taken shape in any sort of legislative form. Infrastructure should be teed up and it seems like a year off. Donald was warned early on that he has a year to get his program through Congress before election-year politics make it increasingly difficult to do so.

None of this gets easier for Donald if he lets himself get impeached, which is increasingly likely because he keeps confessing to what appear to be felonies.

Most alarming though, is Donald's own inability to take responsibility for his own mistakes. When Donald loses he is as likely to say he "won bigger than anyone has ever won, ever and that's beyond dispute."

This is why Donald's job approval is at 38 to 42 percent and has never been above 50. And we will give him the whatfor, so long as each Democrat running for office commits to our free-range non-linear, anti-patriarchy and community-based alt-list of 74 micro demands (otherwise, what's the point?)

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(Attached please find the 480-page addendum discussing in detail Donald's propensity to lie so spectacularly as to shift the tilt of the Earth.)

Job review by the Republican base:

You show 'em Donald. We elected Donald to burn down the system and he's doing exactly that. While others choose to focus on how you and Paul and Mitch control policymaking but can't get legislation done, we know that's the Democrats' fault.

So spite them, Donald. Spite the media by lying to them. Spite our "allies," who do nothing but screw us over by publicly humiliating them. Spite the PC types who say you can't judge a book by its cover, when everyone knows exactly what terrorists look like. Spite the illegal immigrants who have destroyed our way of life. Spite the welfare queens who took all our money and blew up the deficit. Spite your own team if they stab you in the back.

Maybe Donald's victory required some collusion with the Russians (hey, whatever it takes, right?) but if that pisses off the right people, then you are on the right track.

People like us who built this country know they are coming to take it from us, so spite them all in the name of the U.S.A. Spite them and watch them burn themselves down. We are the winners so spite the losers for daring to take what's ours. Jobs and legislation would be nice but that's secondary to punching the right people in the mouth and Donald is doing that. Keep up the good work and 45 million of us will be there for you in 2018.

Gunner Von Singlewide

P.S. And screw this Paris climate accord. France is so weak, it's called France.

Customer satisfaction

Both parties seek to sow anger. Typical Republicans conjure that anger as a rationale to unleash the free market and some whoop-ass overseas. Democrats try to harvest anger to take more collective action to fill in the free-markets gaps and less whoop-ass overseas (but enough to feel a bit like FDR).

Trump has mined anger and smelted it into spite. Jobs? Who cares? Growth? Over-rated. U.S. leadership? Stop already. Spite is the end in Trumpworld. It's not a means and this is new. The enemy is ISIS and the media. It's al Qaeda and Congress. It's enemies within and without. The GOP base may just see the whole point of the Trump presidency as pissing off the right people. That's it.

The dumpster fire may be the point. Neither party has yet to wipe that smirk off Trump's face because millions of voters seem to want exactly what they get in Trump. Farley's fate – or that of any Democrat who gets the nomination – depends much more on Democrats bloodying Trump's lip than anything to do with Ducey.

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For this reason, impeachment is all but off the table. A Republican Congress would be suicidal to take out the guy delivering the goods to the GOP base.

Donald J. Trump is the show that will steal the 2018 election, one way or another. A loss that includes the Arizona governorship would wipe the smirk off Trump's face but no one has been able to do that yet.

Blake Morlock covered Arizona government and politics for 15 years, including 11 in the Tucson Citizen. He also worked on Democratic Party campaigns in the field of political communications. Now he’s telling you things that the Devil won’t.


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Dylan Smith/TucsonSentinel.com

Farley announces his candidacy at the Arizona Inn on Monday.

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