Anita Malik praises ‘nationalization of health care,’ says she’s ‘definitely against’ a border wall during AZ-06 debate

PHOENIX — The two candidates running to represent Arizona’s sixth congressional district faced each other on stage Friday evening in what turned out to be one of the most interactive debates so far.

The debate, hosted by the Arizona Republic’s Yvonne Wingett Sanchez and Arizona PBS’s Ted Simons, was described by the former as an “open exchange of ideas” and “opportunity for give-and-take” meant to facilitate conversation between the candidates — and it certainly did.

U.S. Representative David Schweikert, the Republican, has represented Arizona’s sixth congressional district since 2013. (He had represented the fifth congressional district from 2011 until redistricting.) Anita Malik, the Democrat, has worked in media and marketing.

One of the first topics of discussion: The tax relief package signed into law in 2017. Schweikert, who voted for the legislation, touted his elevation to the House Ways and Means Committee. The committee, chiefly responsible for overseeing tax policy, is a coveted position on Capitol Hill.

However, the Democrat called Schweikert’s position on the House Ways and Means Committee “a concern.” Malik — a C-suite executive, vice president, and graduate of the private University of Southern California — called herself “part of the working class” and claimed that the legislation is not helping middle-class workers.

“That tax bill is not supporting the middle class,” Malik said, “and that is why I believe the GOP is trying to pass ‘version two’ of that tax bill right now — as a political tool right before the November elections.”

Schweikert countered that wealthy Americans are actually paying a larger portion of income tax revenue now, after its passage.

“Ms. Malik, I’m sorry, but your math is quite wrong,” Schweikert responded. “Under the old tax code, with all of its gimmicks and its loopholes, the top 20 percent of income earners paid 84 percent of all the federal income tax. Today, under the revision, the rewrite, they no longer pay 84. They pay 87.”

Malik also dismissed the economic benefits of tax reform, stating that the “average person” will only receive about $1,000 per year in tax relief and are “not feeling that.”

“The tax reform was actually designed to maximize vitality in the economy,” Schweikert said. “And, look, the early data is pretty impressive right now.”

In Arizona, the legislation allowed Arizona Public Service (APS) to seek a $119 million rate decrease and companies like Cox Communications to free up money for bonuses and permanent pay increases for their employees.

Malik repeatedly attempted to tie Schweikert to the Trump administration, contrasting it with what she described as her independence.

“It is time that we start to put this party politics aside,” she said. “We need to stop using negative campaigning and soundbites.”

However, critics have pointed out that Malik’s partisan rhetoric on the campaign trail — such as claiming about Republicans on Twitter: “Weapons are their priorities not people” — has told a different story.

On stage, Schweikert defended his record and pointed out that he outperformed President Trump in the district by double digits in the general election in 2016.

“We have the healthiest economy right now in the world,” the Republican said. “Our productive gains are finally starting again. The reinvestment in capital equipment, particularly in this community, is wonderful and stunning and actually creates a fairly bright future for us.”

The conversation then turned to health care. The candidates talked about the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act and Bernie Sanders’ plan to provide free health care for all.

Asked by her opponent, “Do you support ‘Medicare-for-all’ or nationalization of health care?” Malik answered: “I do.”

“The way I look at getting to a universal system is that we start today,” the Democrat said. “You take Medicare, where it is now, you bring in the public option — something that was stripped out of that original plan, the [Affordable Care Act] — you let people buy in … We don’t have to do it overnight, but we need to get there.”

While Schweikert agreed with the general goal of increasing access to affordable health care, he added: “My fear is that nationalized health care is a horrible way to move that needle.”

The debate touched on issues like trade policy and border security — to which Malik responded, “I’m definitely against the wall” — as well but more or less focused on whether Arizona is doing better today than it was yesterday.

“We’ve come so far,” Schweikert said, “and my desperate hope is we can continue to adopt policies that continue to bring this renaissance to our community.”


Moses Sanchez slams City Hall as “dysfunctional and disconnected” in first mayoral debate

PHOENIX — Four candidates running to become the next mayor of Phoenix participated in a fiery debate Monday night, challenging each other’s qualifications for the city’s highest office.

The debate, hosted by KPNX, touted a packed stage featuring Daniel Valenzuela, Kate Gallego, Nicholas Sarwark, and Moses Sanchez.

Valenzuela and Gallego, the Democrats in the race, are former members of the Phoenix City Council who both resigned earlier this year to run for the Mayor’s Office. Valenzuela works as a firefighter in Glendale. Sarwark is running under the Libertarian Party.

Sanchez, the only Republican, is a 22-year veteran of the United States Navy. If elected, he would be the first Republican mayor that Phoenix has seen in nearly 15 years.

A demonstration took place outside before the debate began protesting Gallego. The protesters’ signs — many of which donned the phrase “corruption” — criticized the former councilwoman’s decision to accept $75,000 in campaign donations “from developers who want to repurpose Chinese Cultural Center, according to the Arizona Republic’s Jessica Boehm.”

The candidates debated water policy, public pensions, light rail, law enforcement, and much more.

Asked by a member of the audience how they would plan ahead and get things done, Valenzuela and Sanchez highlighted their experience bringing people together.

“The mayor, if nothing else, the mayor of the City of Phoenix must be a coalition-builder and a problem-solver,” Valenzuela, the Democrat, responded. “And I’ve done that.”

“I have a lot of experience — 22 years of experience — as a veteran in the Armed Forces leading men and women, both here at home and abroad, on very complex missions,” Sanchez, the Republican, said. “In order to achieve those complex missions, we had to be brilliant at the basics.”

Sanchez continued: “The status quo at City Hall, quite frankly, is dysfunctional and disconnected. There’s a lot of partisan bickering to the point where recently we barely passed a budget … How do you get people to work together if they can’t function?”

Brahm Resnik, the host, pressed Gallego about the “corruption” protest outside and asked about her ties to the developers in question.

“Why would that one company, TrueNorth, give you so much money? What do they want?” Resnik asked. “Why should voters trust your vote after hearing that you received $75,000 from these executives at some point in the process?”

Gallego defended her position on the cultural center. However, the exchange took a strange turn when Gallego compared criticizing the developers to criticizing Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“We get asked to condemn people all the time, like Vladimir Putin,” she said. “I don’t like Vladimir Putin, but that doesn’t mean it’s an appropriate use of city time to be condemning people.”

The debate then shifted to law enforcement, the funding for which garnered significant scrutiny under former Mayor Greg Stanton as a result of a hiring freeze.

“I apologize that the City Hall and status quo have let you down,” Sanchez, the Republican, said, speaking to Police Chief Jeri Williams and her team in law enforcement. “Our police officers are under-supported and under-staffed … We need to properly man, train, and equip our police officers.”


VIDEO: Ruben Gallego: Democrats will ‘kick the shit out of the Republicans’

PHOENIX — Congressman Ruben Gallego called Republicans “cowards” over the weekend and said that he’s looking forward “kicking the shit out of” them in November.

Gallego, a Democrat, represents the state’s seventh congressional district.

He spoke at a get-out-the-vote event Saturday evening hosted by Maricopa County Democratic Party. At the event, in a video captured by an Arizona Republic reporter, the congressman predicted that his party will win the mid-term elections in a blue wave.

“We are less than 60 days from totally kicking the shit out of the Republicans …” Gallego said, the latter portion of his remark being drowned out by applause from Democrats. “And I’m not just talking in the blue districts … We are going to win and turn this state blue.”

(You can watch the speech here.)

The congressman added that he believes Republicans are “cowards.”

“Every day we are out there, we have to fight,” Gallego continued. “We have to fight ‘cause Republicans are cowards and they’re gonna continue to be cowards.”

The Democrat has gained a reputation for using fiery, combative rhetoric to excite his party’s base.

He called President Donald Trump “a psychopath” earlier this year and recently suggested that Special Counsel Robert Mueller should investigate the president because of his tweets.

Gallego announced last week that he is considering a run for U.S. Senate in 2020.



David Garcia endorses open borders: “Just imagine … no wall in southern Arizona”

PHOENIX — Democratic gubernatorial candidate David Garcia asked an applauding audience of progressives Saturday night to imagine getting to live in an America with no borders.

Garcia, one of two candidates running for the Democratic nomination, attended the liberal Netroots Nation conference in New Orleans over the weekend. The annual confab is a gathering of far-left politicians, candidates, and activists talking about their political agendas.

Participants in this year’s conference included Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democratic for office in New York. Ocasio-Cortez — an admitted socialist who believes that “capitalism … will not always exist in the world” — was spotted dining with Garcia on Sunday.

Speaking on stage, Garcia asked the applauding audience to “imagine” a borderless America.

“As we come together to close Netroots, I want to just take a second and imagine,” the Democrat said. “Let’s just imagine … Just imagine no wall. No wall in southern Arizona.”

(You can listen to the speech here.)

Garcia has taken a number of controversial positions about border security since launching his campaign. He has called for the abolishment of ICE and the dismantling of the Border Strike Force, which targets cartels and traffickers along the border. He also suggested during a radio interview in June 2018 that Arizona “should pull our resources from the border,” including the National Guard.

The Democratic primary between Garcia and former state senator Steve Farley takes place on August 28.


Adrian Fontes flubs early-voting process, affecting 2,000 Arizona voters

PHOENIX — Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes is under intense scrutiny after a news report revealed Friday that an undisclosed ‘computer glitch’ in his office put nearly 2,000 Arizonans at risk of not receiving early-voting ballots.

Fontes, a Democrat, was elected to his position in 2016 after running on a campaign platform of “rebuilding trust in the election system.”

But, for the more than 1,900 Arizonans affected, Fontes’ campaign pledge isn’t living up.

“Almost 2,000 independent voters nearly did not receive early ballots — and more than 750 are still at risk of not getting an early ballot — because of a computer glitch on the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office website,” the Arizona Republic reported in a front-page story.

The County Recorder’s system failed to ask independent voters which party ballot they would like: Republican, Democrat Party, or Green. Those voters have to resolve the issue and request another, proper ballot. “If they do not do so before Aug. 17, they will likely not receive an early ballot,” the newspaper continued.

The controversy was covered during ABC 15’s nightly newscast, which noted that the “ballot blunder” has left more than 750 voters still at risk. “If it stays that way, depending on the race, results could be affected,” anchor Steve Irvin explained. KTAR also covered the controversy on-air throughout Friday evening.

Fontes is a lawyer by trade. While running for office, the Democrat politicized similar ballot-box problems, painting them as deliberate attempts by his opponent — then-Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell — to suppress the vote.

“This wasn’t just an inconvenience,” Fontes told the liberal magazine Mother Jones, referring to long lines on Election Day. “This was a deterrent, an intentional deterrent to keep people from voting.”

The Democrat used a taxpayer-funded committee hearing to promote his campaign that March, unexpectedly telling the attendees that he had “decided that I was going to run.”

“Hold on. Don’t take my time,” he snapped at members of the audience who were making noises. “I will tell you right now that I do not want Helen Purcell to resign. I want to beat her at the ballot box … At ElectFontes(dot)com, you can get more information.”

Fontes came under fire earlier this year for telling a constituent and candidate for office to “go F-yourself” on social media, adding, “By the way, is your Mom also running your campaign?”

The Democrat responded afterward that “I would like to move on” from the controversy.


Ruben Gallego: Mueller should investigate Trump for tweeting

PHOENIX — Congressman Ruben Gallego said Thursday that Special Counsel Robert Mueller should investigate President Donald Trump for tweeting.

Gallego, who represents Arizona’s seventh congressional district, appeared on CNN’s “Situation Room with Wolf Biltzer” Thursday afternoon to talk about the special counsel’s ongoing investigation. Blitzer said that Mueller is “taking a very close look at the president’s tweets to see if they amount to witness intimidation, obstruction of justice.”

Asked if the Twitter feed rises to that level, Gallego responded in the affirmative and claimed that the public sees his tweets as “a form of intimidation.”

(You can watch the exchange here.)

“Certainly,” the Democrat said. “Look, if this had been the president writing letters or letters to the editor and publishing it in the New York Post or New York Times, Washington Post — I think a lot of people would have actually said, ‘Yes, this is a form of intimidation, a form of obstruction of justice.’”

“That is a worthwhile reason why Mueller should be investigating,” he continued.

Gallego came under fire in February when — for the second time in one year — he called President Trump “a psychopath” and ominously warned that “America will regret the day you were ever born.”


Unearthed: In racist posts online, Juan Mendez celebrated “white flight” from public schools, compared Arizona to Jim Crow South

PHOENIX — State Senator Juan Mendez published racially charged posts on social forums in 2016, celebrating what he called “white flight” from public schools and deriding those Arizonans as “evil.”

Mendez, a Democrat, retweeted several Twitter posts this month calling on a colleague to resign for making other racially charged comments at a fundraiser about the number of white children in public schools. However, the Democrat made similar comments online celebrating “white flight from the public schools” just months before entering his position in the state legislature.

His comments, reported on for the first time today, were quietly published by the Democrat on the social forum website Reddit in 2016.

Responding to a user who asked what it was like in Arizona, Mendez wrote that the state is “pretty bad” and that living here “takes it’s [sic] toll” on him.

“People who supported Jim Crow laws of our racist past would be proud with how we’ve pretty much instituted and brought about the effects that they were hoping for,” Mendez wrote under his username.

The Democrat added that the only reason some areas were “not so bad” is “because of the economic segregation and the white flight from the public schools — the evil and ignorant people pretty much keep to themselves.”

In another forum post, Mendez again derided Arizona, saying that “if it wasn’t for this racist state and it’s [sic] backwards politics I would [sic] be as liberal as I am today.”

“I think everyone should come to AZ like people did with the South,” the Democrat added, another reference comparing his home state to the Jim Crow South.

Mendez faced significant scrutiny earlier this year after admitting that he had plagiarized a candidate questionnaire while running for office. However, his serial plagiarism went on for at least five years, something for which the state senator — who works as a co-instructor at Phoenix College — still has not provided an answer.

Mendez is running for re-election in November 2018. He is scheduled to debate his primary opponent, Debbie Manuel, on June 27.