Republican legislative candidates escape the drag of top ticket candidates in 2022

The Democrats were bracing for disaster. 

President Biden’s approval ratings were at record lows. Inflation skyrocketed and the economy was unstable. Not to mention the pain at the pump. By every measure and metric, Republicans were predicted to cruise to majorities and flip several key races in 2022. All the signs were there.

But when the polls closed in Arizona and the first batch of votes posted to the Secretary of State’s website, it wasn’t a celebration that ensued. Instead, a nauseating feeling of distress crept into the stomachs of Republicans. This wasn’t how it was supposed to go.

Over the course of the week, as the votes rolled in, it became increasingly clear that Republicans had lost the top offices in the state: Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, and U.S. Senate. A dramatic turn of events.

However, there was one silver lining for the GOP: securing legislative majorities.

So what went wrong for the top of the ticket — and right for legislative candidates?

Top of the ticket Republicans weren’t talking about issues Arizonans had rated as their top concerns, like jobs and the economy, border security, and education. Instead, they were focused on fringe, polarizing issues that deterred voters. That’s why it’s no surprise voters in competitive districts reject them by significant margins.

Meanwhile, legislative candidates focused on topline issues, stayed on message, and took their message to voters across their respective districts. They were more focused on building coalitions than dividing the party and telling independents to take a hike. Legislative candidates were rewarded with victories. 

Taking a closer look at the numbers, here’s what we know.

In LD2, Steve Kaiser won by a little over 3 percent, while Blake Masters trailed Mark Kelly by over 6 percent. Kari Lake trailed by 2. According to the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (AIRC), LD2 was rated an R+3.8 percent district. 

Steve Kaiser’s story isn’t an isolated occurrence. 

Look at LD13, an R+1.6 percent district according to the AIRC, where J.D. Mesnard won with a comfortable 3 percent. Kari Lake was down nearly 4 percent and Blake Masters by 8 percent. That’s an 11 point difference between Mesnard and Masters, respectively.

Even in LD16, where T.J. Shope won by 10 percent, Kari Lake squeaked a majority with just over 3 percent while Blake Masters still trailed by 2 percent. 

Losing these key districts cost Blake Masters, Kari Lake, and the rest of the top of the ticket their races. 

Now with Governor Hobbs on the 9th Floor, the only thing standing between her and turning back the clock on our state’s progress is our legislative majorities. The top of the ticket GOP counterparts failed to keep Democrats out of our top offices. 

Maybe Republicans should take the hint and get back to talking about issues Arizona cares about -— then they might start winning again. 

Dems Being Treated Unfairly

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif) complains that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s determination to keep him off the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) “is so unfair.”

McCarthy defended his position, pointing out that “Swalwell’s long-term sexual liaison with a Chinese spy indicates that he should not be privy to the kind of sensitive national security information that the HPSCI deals with on a regular basis.”

Swalwell called McCarthy’s explanation “unconvincing. President Biden stored classified documents at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement in Washington, DC. This Center was funded by Chinese Communist Party money and included sharing office space with CEFC China Energy. If I’m not fit for sitting on the HPSCI, how is Biden fit to remain president?”

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif) is also targeted for removal from the HPSCI by McCarthy “for his incessant leaking and lying,” the Speaker said. “Leaking is a violation of the law. And the constant lying marks him as untrustworthy. There’s no way he should be on this committee.”

Schiff dismissed McCarthy’s standards as “naive and out-dated. The election of President Biden–perhaps the most prolific liar to ever hold the office–shows that the voters don’t demand honesty from their rulers. As an elected official, McCarthy ought to abide by the wishes of the American people.”

By John Semmens

Dems & GOP Spar Over Debt

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif) rejected President Biden’s demand for a “clean” debt ceiling hike, saying “cramming a bloated federal spending package through during the ‘lame duck’ session showed total disrespect for the American people’s concerns about government overspending. The Republican majority in the House intends to give these concerns a fair hearing. Fending off bankruptcy should be a bipartisan effort.”

Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen called the Republicans’ focus on the national debt “naive. The federal government isn’t your random seeker of borrowed money. It is the most powerful organization on the planet. It can crush any opposition–foreign or domestic. It can take whatever it needs from anyone it wants to. It can even create new money out of thin air. The debt ceiling is just an arbitrary number. A simpler solution would be to abolish the ceiling.”

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) called McCarty’s resistance “futile. The GOP may hold the majority in the House, but they can’t force the Senate or the President to compromise. Sooner or later, the Republicans will have to give in. If they don’t, we and the media will blame them for whatever calamities or inconveniences that result from failure to pass a clean debt ceiling increase and the voters will then punish them at the polls.”

“The Democrats’ insistence on no limits to federal spending has sparked the highest inflation in since the 1980s,” McCarthy argued. “Taxpayers are now paying $500 billion in interest on the money borrowed because we don’t have a balanced budget. This cannot go on.”

Yellen asserted that “what the Republicans don’t understand is that the federal government would actually come out ahead if our dollar becomes worthless. As the world’s biggest debtor, a collapse of the dollar will let the US government off the hook. All the debt would be wiped out by a flood of newly created worthless dollars. The only losers would be those who foolishly hold dollar-denominated assets like cash and bonds.”

Biden Mishandles Classified Documents

The Democrats’ quest to demonize former President Donald Trump for having classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida was dealt a serious setback when it was disclosed this week that President Biden had stashes of classified documents–some of them marked “Top Secret”–in separate locations.

One of the locations was the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement in Washington, DC. This “think tank” was funded by a grant of $54 million from donors linked to the Chinese Communist Party.

A second location was in a garage where he keeps his Corvette at his home in Wilmington, Delaware. Biden rejected suggestions that a garage might not be a very secure site, saying “my Corvette’s in a locked garage so it’s not like it’s sitting on the street.” Notably, the surveillance cameras at the address were disconnected a few years back because an excessive number of false alarms sparked complaints from neighbors.

A third location now undergoing a search for classified documents is an office shared by Joe and Hunter Biden with CEFC China Energy. Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre expressed doubt that any classified documents would turn up “because the President was between his terms as vice-president and his later election as president. The partnership was solely focused on profit-making opportunities in oil and gas, not matters of national security.” She rebuffed allegations that the President had falsely denied any knowledge of his son’s business activities, saying “the President was just a figurehead whose name was being used to help open doors for his son–something any good father would do for a son.”

Not everyone was buying these innocent explanations. Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga) claimed “the President’s enemies are setting him up. Those MAGA terrorist dudes know where the President’s home is. They probably waited until he was far away on his border inspection to sneak in and dump the classified stuff in his garage.” This suspicion was also voiced on ABC’s “The View” where Joy Behar, Whoopi Goldberg, and Sunny Hostin reasoned that “since the key beneficiary of this turn of events is Trump we have to believe his supporters may have engineered this seemingly fortuitous blemish on the President’s sterling record of achievement.”

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif) called the differential treatment of Trump and Biden “further evidence of DOJ’s blatant political bias. The DOJ was first aware of Biden’s mishandled documents on November 2, 2022, yet declined to make this information public so as ‘not to influence the elections’ six days later. They had no such qualms about staging a well-publicized armed raid on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence in August 2022. This blatant protection of Democrats and maligning of Republicans is an abuse of the law-enforcement powers entrusted to the DOJ.”

By John Semmens

Is America’s Investment in the Ukraine War Worth It?

Both President Biden and Congress have sent tens of billions of our tax dollars in the form of weapons, ammunition, and cash to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky to help save his regime from Russian invaders. While support for these outlays has come from both Democrats and Republicans, no clear benefit to our country can be detected.

Ostensibly, the claim is that we are trying to save Ukraine’s democracy. But is Ukraine really a democracy? In the past week, Zelensky signed legislation that allows the Ukrainian government to censor news sites, control the flow of information to the Ukrainian people, and shut down news sites that are deemed insufficiently loyal to the government. Zelensky says “we were inspired by revelations that the US government has been doing the same thing.”

US Secretary of State Tony Blinken cautioned against “drawing the wrong conclusion. Censoring the enemies of democracy–whether domestic or foreign–is sometimes necessary. Making our covert suppression of free speech public like Elon Musk has done has needlessly damaged America’s image. Our credibility as a foe of Russian dictatorship has been undermined.”

On the other hand, many members of Congress have accrued substantial profits from well-timed purchases of stock in corporations that manufacture the weapons we are providing to Ukraine. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore) got a 40% return on his investment in defense industry stocks. Rep. Marjorie Taylor (R-Ga) got a 35% return. Blumenauer was irked that Greene also profited from these stocks. “She voted against aid to Ukraine,” he complained. “It isn’t fair that she should make almost money as I did since I had to help with the heavy lifting.”

In related news, Gov. Kathy Hochul (D-NY) signed a bill raising state legislators’ salaries by 30% to $142,000 per year. Income from other employment is also capped at $35,000 per year to discourage gainful employment. “We don’t want them to work themselves to death,” the Governor said. “Likewise, there are no limits on gifts from admirers, or investments because salaries are never enough to fulfill all the needs of the people’s representatives.”

By John Semmens

Administration Refuses to Condemn China’s Crackdown

The experience of seeing mask-less players and fans at the World Cup soccer matches in Qatar on TV this week sparked millions of Chinese to take to the streets to protest their continued home-confinement under their country’s severely restrictive covid lockdown policies. Videos of protesters being clubbed in the streets has sparked outrage around the world.

In the US, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif), likely to be the next House Speaker, tweeted: ‘The Chinese Communist Party’s lockdowns have imprisoned people against their will—many have died. As Chinese citizens bravely protest, Joe Biden and the corporate class shrug. Our Select Committee on China will do what Biden refuses—finally reckon with the pariah that is the Chinese Communist Party.”

Republican Rep. Mike Waltz (R-Fla), member of the House China Task Force, complained ‘The White House statement Monday reiterated ‘everyone has the right to protest’, but didn’t go far enough in condemning the Chinese Communist Party for their overt atrocities.”

Rep. Lauren Boebert tweeted: “The people of China are standing up and demanding freedom, even knowing the major risk of doing so in their country. People are born to be free, not oppressed by government regimes. They need our moral support.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken took a more balanced perspective, saying that “while we are sympathetic to the idea that people ought to be free to speak their minds and demonstrate to express their grievances, we also must recognize that China has the right to govern as it sees fit. How would we like it if foreigners tried to interfere with the lockdowns, mask requirements, and vaccine mandates that our President and many state governors have deemed necessary? Theoretically, people ought to be free, but from a practical perspective they must sometimes be forced to obey the government for the common good. We can’t be too critical of China’s positions and methods since we may one day have to take these same positions and use these same methods here.”

Twitter Suspensions Called Unfair

The Twitter accounts of CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan, The New York Times’ Ryan Mac, The Washington Post’s Drew Harwell and others were abruptly suspended by Elon Musk this week. “To be thrown off the platform with no warning or explanation is the worst kind of censorship,” O’Sullivan complained. “This never would have happened under the previous ownership.”

Musk challenged the assertion that the suspensions were unfair and unexplained. “The reason these individuals had their accounts temporarily suspended is that they were using Twitter to dox me,” Musk tweeted. “Any account doxxing real-time location info of anyone will be suspended because it is a physical safety violation. This includes posting links to sites with real-time location info. The notion that so-called journalists have a special privilege of helping would-be assaillants and assassins find their targets is pernicious.”

O’Sullivan called the suspension “chilling. Freedom of speech is a fundamental principle of an open society. Censoring it as Musk has done is a significant step on the road to totalitarianism.”

Musk replied, saying “I am encouraged that O’Sullivan expresses support for freedom of speech. It would have impressed me more if he had spoken out against the rampant censorship that Twitter practiced before I bought the company.”

O’Sullivan defended the prior censorship, saying that “freedom of speech doesn’t protect disinformation or misinformation. All who speak have an obligation to be honest. There was nothing dishonest about the posting of the precise locations of Musk and his family. If the FBI had objections to doxxing they would have contacted me directly. Their hand-in-glove cooperation with the previous owners of Twitter to ferret out misleading tweets was crucial to the government’s vaccination program and played a significant role in thwarting the election machinations of the enemies of democracy. Criticizing it is unpatriotic.”

The European Union has threatened to levy sanctions against Twitter for the suspension of these journalists. Commissioner Vera Jourova said that “the suspensions violate our new Digital Services Act (DSA). The DSA requires respect of media freedom. The arbitrary suspension of journalists for linking to a site that tracked Musk’s private airplane is worrying. Sanctions are coming if Musk fails to reverse course. The DSA authorizes us to impose fines of up to 6% of Twitter’s annual gross revenue.”

US & Russia Exchange Prisoners

This week President Biden announced that he had reached a deal with Russia to exchange Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout for Brittney Griner. He touted the deal as “a victory for American diplomacy” and “something former president Trump could never have achieved.”

Trump wasted no time in confirming that “I would never have freed one of the biggest arms dealers in the world. He was responsible for tens of thousands of deaths and horrific injuries.” John Bolton, former national security adviser during the Trump Administration and now a dedicated ‘never-Trumper,’ agreed with his old boss’ assessment, saying “there’s a lot of very understandable human emotions here in getting Griner released, but this is a very bad mistake by the Biden administration.”

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark) predicted that “more people will die now that the ‘Merchant of Death’ is no longer behind bars. More terrorists will get more weapons as Bout goes back to work for the Russian government. I also think that more Americans will be unjustly detained in the future because they realize that Joe Biden will give anything in return for any American citizen.” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga), Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala) Rep. Kevin Hern (R-Ok), Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla) made similar remarks about the prisoner exchange.

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) said “the news of Brittney Griner’s release is a welcomed development toward our collective efforts to secure the return of all those wrongfully detained in Russia. Ms. Griner should have been released unconditionally a long time ago. But this swap of prisoners will encourage dictatorial and rogue regimes to take more Americans hostage as bargaining chips.”

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Tx) called the opposition to releasing Bout “harsh. Viktor hasn’t been proven to have killed a single American. All we can say is that the guns he sold to terrorists might have been used to kill Americans. Likewise, the hash that Brittany brought into Russia might have been used to harm Russians. So, in my mind the swap was a fair deal.”

Presidential Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre defended her boss by pointing out “millions of Americans know and love Brittany. She is a WNBA megastar and an icon for the LGBTQ and BLM communities. Hardly anyone knows who either Paul Whelan or Viktor Bout is. If we had taken Whelan in exchange for Bout no one would’ve cared. Besides, Whelan is a MAGA Republican. We don’t need anymore of those kind in our country. Our only regret is that this trade was not completed before November 8th when it might’ve enabled Democrats to win control of the House.”

Russian media called the deal “a steal. We gave up a basketball player who was stupid enough to bring vape pens with hashish oil into Russia for a tournament, despite the country’s reputation for having some of the strictest drug laws on Earth. We got back one of our nation’s most successful international businessmen. And Saudi Arabia got the US federal lawsuit against Saudi Prince Mohammed Bin Salman for his involvement in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi dropped.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin speculated “I think more prisoner exchanges are possible between the two countries. Plenty of American tourists arrive in our country every year. Who knows how many of these people are American spies? We will redouble our efforts to find and arrest them.”

By John Semmens

Jim O’Connor turned his back on the very GOP grassroots, Arizona voters who put him in office in the first place

Arizona Republicans will breathe a sigh of relief when Kevin Thompson and Nick Myers join the ranks of the Corporation Commission in January, expanding the GOP majority to 4-1. 

Why? Because Republican Commissioner Jim O’Connor has consistently voted with Democrats to push California-style, Green New Deal energy policy and drive up costs for Arizonans. For the past two years, since Mr. O’Connor joined the commission, he has bucked the grassroots and turned his back on Arizonans by supporting the very policies he promised to oppose.

Before diving into Mr. O’Connor’s record, let’s remember how he came to power. 

In 2020, Jim O’Connor became the success story of the year for the Arizona Republican Party after winning a write-in campaign, and subsequently being elected to the Arizona Corporation Commission. 

No small feat, of course. But behind every successful campaign is a team of dedicated volunteers and activists. Mr. O’Connor needed 6,600 write-in votes to make the general election ballot — he received more than 20,000 in Maricopa County alone. Without the rapid mobilization of the party’s base, it might have been nearly impossible for Mr. O’Connor to gather the number of signatures he needed.

What someone says on the campaign trail doesn’t always translate into what they do as an elected official. In the case of Mr. O’Connor, there was no follow-through on the promises he made to the GOP grassroots and Arizona voters. 

If you browse his campaign website, Mr. O’Connor told Arizonans he would fight “job-killing green energy mandates” and work “tirelessly to save you money.” Mr. O’Connor ran on a platform of cutting government red tape and protecting Arizona citizens from higher utility rates. 

Actions speak louder than words. Look no further than Mr. O’Connor’s voting record. 

Despite claiming to be an advocate for ratepayers, Mr. O’Connor joined Democratic Commissioners Sandra Kennedy and Anna Tovar to deny ratepayers a refund for their bill. Instead, he approved an amendment to the plan from Tuscon Electric Power Company to use over-collected funds — approximately $12.4 million — to fund the Commission’s energy efficiency programs.

Dollars taken right out of the pockets of hardworking Arizonans to fund government programs. 

Remember when Mr. O’Connor said he would also fight green energy mandates? 

In 2021, Mr. O’Connor rubber-stamped Arizona Public Service Company’s (APS) Renewable Energy Standard and Tariff (REST) Plan, which forced APS to invest up to $15 million annually in solar installations. Ultimately, ratepayers — hardworking Arizonans — will foot the bill for that investment.

Following the closure of the Navajo Generating Station, and the future closures of the Cholla Generating Station and Four Corners Power Plant, the Navajo Nation has asked the Corporation Commission for nearly $145 million to be paid out to the Navajo Nation, Hopi Tribe, and surrounding communities. Dubbed the ‘Just Transition Agreement’, the reality is that there is nothing just about using ratepayer dollars to subsidize one group over another. 

Unfortunately, Mr. O’Connor has signaled support for the agreement, so if you see your utility bill go up in the future, you know who to blame.

With Republicans like Mr. O’Connor, who needs Democrats to usher in Green New Deal policy and turn Arizona into California? The success story of the Republican Party has turned out to be the proponent of the Democratic agenda on the Arizona Corporation Commission. 

GOP Leadership Wants to Aid Dems in Lame-Duck Session

With Republicans set to be the majority in the House in January, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex) is severely disappointed in Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ken) who seems intent on giving Democrats everything they want during the “lame-duck” period between the elections and the start of the next session.

“Rather than wait until a Republican-led House can serve as a counterweight to the Democrats’ spending spree, McConnell seems determined to help them pass another gargantuan appropriation that can only worsen the inflation the nation is currently experiencing,” Cruz complained.

McConnell defended the accommodation, saying that “we cannot risk the possibility that government programs might suffer from insufficient funding. Granted, a large portion of the money will be wasted on outlays of little or no value to the American people, but if we don’t fund this waste Democrats will short-change essential programs like national defense. As for inflation, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has assured us that consumer spending is the chief culprit.”

Yellen confirmed McConnell’s perception by pointing out that “too many people are buying stuff they don’t need. For example, despite the fact that the majority of our population is overweight they aren’t cutting back their spending on food. They continue to buy expensive meat instead of lower-priced beans as their main source of protein. Another example is driving around in a personal vehicle instead of riding public transit. This kind of undisciplined self-indulgence takes resources away from vital government programs. I commend Sen. McConnell for having the courage to join with Democrats to divert more resources to government use.”

In related news, New York Mayor Eric Adams is planning to hire a “rat czar” to help reduce the city’s population of these destructive rodents. “I think we can accomplish two objectives,” he said. “First, we can decimate disease-carrying vermin. Then by converting these animals into food we will be able to provide a less expensive source of protein for consumers struggling with high food prices. Eating rats is routine in many parts of the world. Rat-on-a-stick is very popular in Vietnam and Cambodia. And the British eat rat pie.”