Democrats are blowing it in a race that has life-or-death implications for democracy: conservative

Democrats are blowing it in a race that has life-or-death implications for democracy: conservative
Image via Creative Commons.

Arizona’s political landscape has changed dramatically from what it was during the 1980s and 1990s. In those days, Arizona was a deep red state that was synonymous with the conservative politics of Sen. Barry Goldwater and his protege in the U.S. Senate, John McCain.

Goldwater, thanks in part to the infamous “daisy ad” aired by Democratic supporters of President Lyndon B. Johnson, suffered a landslide defeat in 1964’s presidential election. But in Arizona, Goldwater remained an icon of the conservative movement — and McCain was proud to call himself a “Goldwater conservative” or “Goldwater Republican.”

Arizona, however, has since evolved into a swing state. President Joe Biden won Arizona in 2020’s presidential election, and both of Arizona’s U.S. senators are centrist Democrats: Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly, who is up for reelection.

READ MORE: 'Are they out of their minds?’: Former Reagan staffer slams WSJ for overlooking Kari Lake’s 'extremism'

On one hand, Arizona is much more Democrat-friendly than it was during the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s; on the other hand, the MAGA Republicans who have gained considerable ground in Arizona are way to the right of yesterday’s Goldwater conservatives. Goldwater, during the Watergate scandal in 1974, famously told President Richard Nixon that he could not count on his support if an impeachment trial came about in the U.S. Senate; in contrast, Kari Lake — Arizona’s 2022 gubernatorial nominee — is a far-right conspiracy theorist who is unwavering in her devotion to the MAGA movement and is campaigning on the false claim that the 2020 election was stolen from former President Donald Trump.

In an article published by The Bulwark on October 24, Never Trump conservative Tim Miller warns that Lake is not only a threat to Arizona — she is a threat to U.S. democracy in general. And Democrats, Miller fears, are blowing it in this race.

Polls have been showing a very close gubernatorial race in Arizona. Some polls are showing Lake slightly ahead of her Democratic opponent, Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, while other polls are showing Hobbs with a narrow lead. Miller, a former Republican strategist and scathing critic of the MAGA movement, is rooting for Hobbs but believes she is running a lackluster campaign.

“The stakes in Arizona’s governor race could not be higher,” Miller warns. “The Republican nominee, Kari Lake, is the most zealous election denier this side of the South Florida Sigmaringen. She has indicated she would do everything in her power to tip the scales for Donald Trump in this swing state in 2024. She is a talented political performer, perhaps the most talented in the entire party. Her rise has been foreseeable for at least a year.”

READ MORE: 'How democracy self-destructs': Why Kari Lake's candidacy may harbinger a future right-wing dystopia

The Never Trumper continues, “So, you would expect that the Democrats would have had a plan for that. That they would be deploying their best and brightest to figure out how to deal with this clear and present danger. If so, you would be sorely mistaken.”

Miller doesn’t mince words when describing how weak a campaign he believes Hobbs is running.

“The Democratic nominee for governor in Arizona, Katie Hobbs, has been a dog’s breakfast served inside a dumpster fire,” Miller laments. “She’s turning over staff after getting sued by a past employee for discrimination. She is ducking debates and hiding from the press. She’s proven incapable of rhetorically taking the fight to her opponent, despite the extensive hit list to choose from. The liberal columnist for the local paper and co-chair of Biden’s campaign in Arizona have ripped her campaign. And the more prominent, popular Democrats who might aid her effort are MIA. Not. Great. Bob.”

Miller continues, “Now, I want to be clear, this article is not a pre-mortem for Hobbs, who could still win. When I called her team to talk through this story, they pushed back aggressively, stating that Hobbs is ‘leading in fundraising, ads on the air, and in the polls’ — pointing to private data showing their candidate in the lead. As it stands, the 538 polling average has Lake ahead by 1 point.”

Miller also laments that prominent Arizona Democrats, namely Kelly and Sinema, should be doing more to help Hobbs.

“Hobbs might not be the best candidate,” Miller argues, “but she is also not a deranged sociopath who pals around with domestic terrorists and wants to make Donald Trump an unelected autocrat. From where I sit, on balance, she would probably be fine, even if I disagree with her on the matter of school choice…. So, it was incumbent on Democrats outside her campaign to help build her up. On that score, it’s another zero.”

Miller adds, “Hobbs has the benefit of running in a state with two senators who have reputations independent from the generic Democratic brand: Mark Kelly, with his astronaut special sauce, and Kyrsten Sinema, who might not be the belle of the ball on MSNBC, but polls show has decent favorables among independents and Republicans in Arizona.”

Given how much is at stake in Arizona’s gubernatorial race, Miller emphasizes, Democrats should be doing everything imaginable from keeping the “bats***t” Lake from winning.

“Candidates do matter,” Miller writes. “The stakes are great. This is not the time for putting the nation’s future in the hands of those who are not up for the fight.”

READ MORE: 'Disappointed': Jake Tapper grills GOP Virginia governor over support of election denier Kari Lake

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