Nancy Pelosi, in Arizona, makes case against tax relief “crumbs”

PHOENIX — House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was in Arizona last week to make the Democratic Party’s case against tax reform.

Pelosi traveled to Phoenix Tuesday with the aim of convincing Arizonans that they will suffer “devastating effects” from the tax reform package signed into law by President Donald Trump, according to the Arizona Republic. She participated in a Facebook Live discussion moderated by the newspaper and visited the left-leaning Arizona Center for Economic Progress during her trip.

The Associated Press originally reported that Pelosi would visit Tucson two days later, but KVOA learned soon after that she would not be in attendance.

She was flanked at Tuesday’s event by U.S. Representative Raul Grijalva. The house minority leader hand-picked Grijalva — who represents a portion of southern Arizona and is considered one of the most liberal members of the state’s congressional delegation — to serve on the conference committee tasked with combining the U.S. House and U.S. Senate versions of the tax reform legislation in December 2017. Grijalva has called the legislation “a national disgrace.”

Pelosi received widespread criticism in January 2018 for dismissing $1,000 bonuses — which many workers are receiving as a result of tax reform’s passage — as “crumbs.” The Democratic former speaker said of the legislation, “This is the end of the world … This is Armageddon” and referred to it as “the worst bill in the history of the United States Congress.”

The tax reform package was the focus of Tuesday’s forum, which occasionally delved into other topics like ongoing negotiations over the DREAM Act. A one point, during a question about income equality, a member of the audience shouted, “How much are you worth, Nancy?”

“We’re not talking about that,” Pelosi responded, as the two struggled to talk over each other. “I’m a mother of five. I can speak louder than anybody.” (The house minority leader has a minimum net worth of $29.35 million and minimum assets of $42.81 million, according to Roll Call.)

“Workers don’t want one-time bonuses,” Grijalva said in Tucson Wednesday.

Last Monday, the New York Times released a new poll concluding that the tax relief package has significantly increased in popularity, including among Democrats, since going into effect. The chief research officer at SurveyMonkey, which conducted the poll for the newspaper, said that the improved public opinion about the legislation is “dramatically different” than it was only one month earlier.

The improvement is likely the result of taxpayers seeing their paychecks grow.

Thousands of workers in Arizona were eligible for these bonuses and pay increases. In addition, consumers across the state may soon see a reduction in their electricity bills.

Arizona Public Service (APS) currently is seeking a $119 million rate decrease from the Arizona Corporation Commission in order to pass along these benefits to families. Tucson Electric Power also is considering ways to bring relief to its customers in southern Arizona.

A version of this article appears at The Farley Report.


Poll: Arizona Democrats out-of-touch with voters on tax reform

PHOENIX — All four Democratic members of Arizona’s congressional delegation opposed the tax reform package signed into law by President Donald Trump, but, according to a new poll conducted for the New York Times, that’s not in line with how the American people see it.

The poll, released on Monday, was conducted by SurveyMonkey for the New York Times. It found that the 2017 tax reform legislation increased in popularity after it went into effect, with 51 percent of Americans now supportive compared to only 46 percent last month.

Support for the legislation “has grown even among Democrats,” the newspaper reported. SurveyMonkey’s chief research officer added, “Public opinion is moving in the direction of this bill . . . Considering where it was, it is dramatically different.”

In December 2017, Democratic U.S. Representatives Tom O’Halleran, Raul Grijalva, Ruben Gallego, and Kyrsten Sinema all voted against the legislation.

Grijalva, one of the congressional delegation’s most liberal members, was hand-picked by House Minority Leader Nancy to serve on the conference committee tasked with fusing the U.S. House and U.S. Senate versions of the tax reform package. He called both versions “a national disgrace.”

Gallego, who last week slammed President Trump as a “psychopath,” used similar language, calling the legislation “one of the biggest heists in American history.”

Sinema and O’Halleran issued more measured statements, both claiming that the tax package would not help middle-class families.

However, families across the country already have begun to benefit from the legislation in the form of tax relief and pay increases. The president of an aerospace company based in Tucson confirmed in an interview with the National Association of Manufacturers that the tax reform package will empower the business “to invest in more equipment and hire more people.”

Arizona Public Service (APS) announced in January that the utility will be passing along the benefits of tax reform to its customers across the state by seeking a $119 million rate decrease. Arizona Corporation Commissioner Justin Olson is supporting such efforts. Tucson Electric Power also announced in February that the southern Arizona utility is looking at ways to do the same.

A version of this article appears at The Farley Report.


David Garcia failed to disclose pollster’s partisan history

PHOENIX — Democratic gubernatorial candidate David Garcia cited a poll this week alleging that Governor Doug Ducey is politically “vulnerable” but failed to disclose the pollster’s bias and deep ties to the Democratic Party.

ProgressNow Arizona, the Grand Canyon State arm of national liberal group ProgressNow, released a telephone poll this week claiming that the Republican governor is “vulnerable” and adding that “this election has the potential to be a pickup opportunity for Democrats.”

Much like People for the American Way, a liberal group opposing Governor Ducey’s re-election, ProgressNow has ties to the Democracy Alliance, a secretive network of wealthy Democratic donors. It has led and promoted anti-Republican protests.

Garcia, who is in the middle of a contested Democratic primary against State Senator Steve Farley of Tucson, pounced on the claims.

“New polling shows Ducey is vulnerable,” he tweeted, urging social media users to join his campaign.

What Garcia failed to disclose is that the polling firm, Lake Research Partners, is funded by a host of clients that includes Democratic Party-aligned candidates, officials, and groups. The firm’s client list includes former President Bill Clinton and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who is facing pressure from her own caucus to step down from the leadership role.

Another controversial group included on Lake Research Partners’ client list is ACORN, which faced nationwide backlash in 2010 and subsequently filed for chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Employees at Lake Research Partners have contributed more than $60,000 to Democratic candidates and causes at the federal level alone, including Joshua Ulibarri, a Phoenix-based partner at the firm. Ulibarri has contributed to Democrats like U.S. Representatives Ruben Gallego and Kyrsten Sinema and former state attorney general candidate Felecia Rotellini, who now serves as chair of the Arizona Democratic Party.

In September 2014, Lake Research Partners released a similar poll claiming that then-State Senator Michele Reagan was losing her race for secretary of state by 16 percent. Secretary Reagan, as she is now known, ended up winning that race by 4.4 percent, a 20-plus percent swing from the polling results.


Ruben Gallego calls President Trump “a psychopath” (again)

PHOENIX — And they said President Donald Trump was fiery on Twitter.

U.S. Congressman Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) took to social media late Saturday night and slammed President Trump as a “psychopath” for his response to this week’s shooting in Florida.

“You are such a psychopath that you have to make even the death of 17 children about you,” Gallego wrote.

The Democrat, who represents Arizona’s seventh congressional district, added that “America will regret the day you were ever born.”

This wasn’t the first time Gallego called the president a psychopath — and, considering the attention he has received for doing so, probably won’t be the last.

After a producer from MSNBC claimed in August 2017 that President Trump receives a daily media-clip folder containing positive coverage of himself, Gallego responded: “So I would have my staff do this, but I am not a psychopath.”

Gallego previously served as a state representative for Arizona’s 16th legislative district from 2011 to 2014. He became a member of Congress in 2015.


David Garcia ditched Arizona on Statehood Day

PHOENIX — On February 14, Arizona blew out candles for its 106th birthday. David Garcia, meanwhile, blew town.

Garcia published a tweet Wednesday addressing Arizona Statehood Day but failed to mention that he had already flown the coop for greener pastures. Instead, the embattled Democratic candidate for governor quietly headed to Washington, D.C., to audition for a progressive group looking to sway the midterm elections in 2018.

That group, People for the American Way Action Fund, is the political arm of the like-named nonprofit. People for the American Way has ties to the Democracy Alliance — a secretive network of wealthy Democratic donors — through its founder, Hollywood producer Norman Lear. The group actively defended President Bill Clinton during his scandals of the 1990s, including by launching a $1 million ad campaign aimed at pressuring Congress to not initiate impeachment hearings.

The group’s event this week with Garcia was promoted through a little-noticed media advisory on the National Press Club’s website. While there, Garcia argued on-stage that he’ll siphon support from Trump voters in November. His attempts to appeal to Trump supporters are expected hit a few roadblocks, though. Garcia condemned the president’s “foolish border wall” in June and recently participated in a march opposing the administration’s infrastructure plan.

In reality, President Donald Trump’s first year in office has proven to be an engagement boost, but so far that boost is for the Arizona Republican Party. Voter registration numbers released by the Secretary Of State’s office found that the percentage of Republican voters in Arizona has actually increased, and the percentage of Democratic voters has fallen, since Election Day 2016.

This movement expanded an existing gap in voter registration that already favored Republicans.

Garcia, for his part, is in the midst of a bitter Democratic primary against State Senator Steve Farley of Tucson, who has criticized the associate professor as an out-of-touch academic. Farley significantly out-fundraised Garcia in the most recent campaign filing period.


Arizona Democrats face uphill battle in 2018

PHOENIX — Only a few months ago, Democrats across the United States looked at the national landscape and felt a twinge of optimism.

The unexpected victory of President Donald Trump over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was a blight on the party’s organizing efforts in 2016. Her loss drained the confidence of the Democratic Party’s biggest financial contributors, led to a messy leadership overhaul within the Democratic National Committee, and raised several questions internally, and often publicly, about the ideological direction that the party should take in order to get back on its feet.

It also presented an opportunity.

The Democratic Party — long expecting to enter the 2018 midterm elections as the underdog, defending a number of U.S. Senate seats while governing under an unpopular President Hillary Clinton — suddenly enjoyed the advantage of a deeply polarizing Republican figure in the White House.

For the Arizona Democratic Party, regionally-felt issues like the administration’s rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program could be used mobilize thousands of Hispanic voters in the southwest, with the aim of turning a traditionally red state blue. U.S. Senator Jeff Flake’s (R-Ariz.) decision in October 2017 that he would not seek reelection fanned the flames of that momentum.

Three months after Senator Flake’s announcement, though, that momentum is nowhere to be found.

The three officials expected to be at the top of the ticket in Arizona — Governor Doug Ducey, Secretary of State Michele Reagan, and Attorney General Mark Brnovich — have significant cash advantages over their prospective Democratic opponents. None face Republican primary challengers, either, virtually guaranteeing that the three officials will enter the general election unscathed and with plenty of money to spend.

U.S. Representative Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), currently running for U.S. Senate, was expected to face former State Senator Kelli Ward after Senator Flake dropped out. Many operatives have aimed to portray Ward as a weak general-election candidate whose presence would convince Democratic donors to invest in the race, in turn buoying down-ballot candidates. However, it is increasingly clear that the Democrat will be facing a stronger opponent: U.S. Representative Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), an Air Force veteran and one of the Republican Party’s strongest fundraisers who has represented a swing-district in southern Arizona since 2015.

Representative McSally announced her candidacy for the U.S. Senate in January 2018.

Representative Sinema’s candidacy, meanwhile, has been under a dark cloud since it was revealed last year that she accepted thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from individuals affiliated with the controversial website Backpage, which in March 2016 was held in contempt by the chamber to which she is seeking election. (She donated the contributions after media reports surfaced.)

Additionally, President Trump’s first year in office has not been the effective voter-registration tool that the Democratic Party assumed it would be. According to data released by the Secretary of State’s office, the percentage of Republican voters in the state has actually increased since the 2016 election while percentage of Democratic voters has fallen, expanding an existing gap that already gave Republicans an advantage.

In what may have been an otherwise politically tumultuous year for Republicans, their success in passing a decades-in-waiting tax reform package, repealing the individual mandate, opening new land to energy exploration, and confirming Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court is certain to boost the energy of Republican voters and the confidence of the party’s most generous contributors — leaving Democrats heading into the midterm elections exactly where they were before Election Day 2016.