Laurie Roberts: Felecia Rotellini Is “Delusional” Over CD-8 “Pipedream”

PHOENIX — Laurie Roberts, the liberal writer known for her columns in the Arizona Republic, called the state Democratic Party’s chairwoman “delusional” Monday because of how much the time and energy the party is spending on Arizona’s eighth congressional district.

Felecia Rotellini, who served as an appointee of former Democratic Governor Janet Napolitano, was elected as the Arizona Democratic Party’s new chairwoman in January 2018. Since then, the state party has sent out several fundraising emails to supporters about its efforts to “flip” control of the seat from Republican to Democrat.

During an interview this weekend with CNN, Rotellini said of the open congressional seat: “I believe, bottom-line, we can win.”

That interview apparently prompted Roberts, whose columns almost always take a hostile position toward the Republican Party, to publish a response to the Democratic Party’s overflowing optimism about a seat widely considered safe in Republican hands.

“It’s official: Arizona’s Democrats have moved to fantasyland,” Roberts wrote. “How else can you explain the party’s top dog predicting that a Democrat will be replacing Trent Franks in Congress?”

She went on to wonder if Rotellini was “either delusional or it’s just a part of the job description that she’s required to promote this pipedream that Democrats can win in Arizona’s 8th Congressional District.”

Rotellini was immediately mocked upon taking the new job as chairwoman after the state Democratic Party bragged that she would “rip all of the [Republican U.S. Senate] candidates to shreds.”

“Just like she ripped [Mark Brnovich] to shreds in 2014, right?” the Arizona Republican Party’s then-spokeswoman replied, referring to Rotellini’s state attorney general race. (Attorney General Brnovich took office in January 2015.)

The general election for the open congressional seat between Republican Debbie Lesko and Democrat Hiral Tipirneni is scheduled for April 24.

Tipirneni gave her first major interview of the general election on Sunday, when she criticized President Donald Trump’s immigration plan by saying, “The idea of a (border) wall is not going to make us safer.” She suggested that the funding for the wall could be better spent on other things, including “clean energy.”


ASU Professor: Tom Steyer ballot proposal “a scam”

PHOENIX — A professor at Arizona State University is calling the ballot proposal tied to Democratic megadonor Tom Steyer “a scam” that will make the state more dependent on fossil fuels.

Earlier this year, a political group connected to NextGen America — founded by investor-turned-environmentalist Tom Steyer — announced that it would be spearheading a ballot initiative to require the state’s utilities to obtain half of their energy from renewable sources.

But Peter Rez, an Oxford-educated professor in the physics department of Arizona’s largest public university, is now dismissing the initiative as a “scam,” saying that the proposal will actually increase the state’s dependence on fossil fuels.

“The problem with renewables is that they don’t necessarily generate electricity when people want it,” he said in a recent interview with The State Press. “Either one has to have massive amounts of storage or to be backed up by fast-response gas turbines.”

The ballot language submitted to the Arizona Secretary of State’s office has been roundly criticized for, among other things, excluding nuclear energy from the list of clean energy sources that can be applied toward the 50-percent threshold; nuclear energy — considered by many to be a “cleaner” source of electricity as it pertains to carbon dioxide emissions — comprises a significant portion of energy generation in the state’s portfolio.

“So summing it up, this initiative is a scam,” Professor Rez told the newspaper.

Others have made similar arguments. Arizonans for Affordable Electricity, a coalition fighting against the ballot initiative, recently explained that the proposal would have “no impact on the air quality that we see” in Maricopa County and Pima County because there already are no coal plants in those regions.

But residents in the state would still be forced to pay higher electricity costs — in other words: all pain, no gain.

“We know that, if this is adopted into the Arizona Constitution, it’s going to double the cost of the utility bill for the average Arizona family,” the affordable energy coalition’s spokesman said.

“Arizona is in a good position … And they’re putting that at risk.”


Democrat Hiral Tipirneni: “The (border) wall is not the answer”

PHOENIX — Democratic congressional candidate Hiral Tipirneni slammed President Donald Trump’s border wall proposal Sunday evening and called for more regulations on gun owners during her first interview in the general election.

Tipirneni, who is running for the open U.S. House seat in Arizona’s eighth congressional district, appeared on 3TV’s “Politics Unplugged” to talk about her ongoing campaign and what she wants to accomplish in Washington, D.C., if elected.

Tipirneni and host Dennis Welch touched on several issues throughout the interview, including the administration’s trade policies — which the Democratic candidate dismissed as not “well thought-out” — and the country’s immigration system.

“I absolutely support a clean DREAM Act if possible but definitely that path to citizenship,” she said, defending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy implemented by President Barack Obama. “You know, it starts with temporary permanent residency and then permanent residency and then citizenship.”

Tipirneni contended that there is more Congress can do to secure the border between the U.S. and Mexico but argued that “the wall is not the answer … The idea of a wall is not going to make us safer.”

(WATCH: “The Wall Is Not The Answer”)

When pressed for details on her notion that the border wall funding should be directed elsewhere, the Democratic candidate responded that “clean energy” and “renewable energy sources” would be a better place to spend the money.

Debbie Lesko, the Republican nominee, took a different tune, calling DACA “totally unconstitutional” and saying that “what we have now is basically amnesty.”

“I agree with President Trump’s plan to secure the border because government’s number-one role is protecting its citizens,” Lesko, a former state senator, said. “I think we need to build the wall. We need to add more border agents. We need to end the chain migration.”

Welch then asked Tipirneni, the Democratic candidate, about her thoughts on the second amendment and whether Congress needs to take action on the issue. She responded that more gun regulations and stronger enforcement of existing regulations are needed, including “comprehensive background checks.”

“We need to make sure there’s that no-fly, no-buy policy in place,” Tipirneni said. “If you can’t fly on a plane because you’re a potential threat, you certainly shouldn’t be buying a gun. Making sure that people are properly registering their firearms and that they’re properly trained and properly storing them.”

Tipirneni also said that Congress needs to close “loopholes like gun shows and person-to-person sales and Internet sales.”

The special general election is on April 24.