Democrats held mid-term “Happy Hour” hours after voting against 20% teacher pay raise

PHOENIX — Only hours after Democratic lawmakers tried to block a 20 percent pay raise for Arizona’s teachers, the state Democratic Party held a “Happy Hour” event to prepare for the mid-terms.

Republican Governor Doug Ducey recently approved significant new investments in Arizona’s education system, including a 20 percent pay raise for the state’s teachers by the 2020 school year.

“This is a real win for our teachers, for our kids, for our educators in the classroom,” Governor Ducey said before signing the annual budget.

The 20 percent pay raise passed both chambers of the state legislature — but not without opposition from the vast majority of the Democratic caucus. Thirty-four Democratic lawmakers voted against the legislation. The Arizona Democratic Party and one of its candidates for governor opposed it. Hiral Tipirneni, the party’s candidate in Arizona’s eighth congressional district, opposed it as well.

The 34 Democrats voted to block the teacher pay raise on the morning of May 3. Only hours later, though, the Arizona Democratic Party hosted a “Happy Hour” at an uptown Scottsdale restaurant to prepare for the upcoming elections.

An invitation posted online shows that the state party hosted the mid-term event on the evening of May 3. It also posted photographs bragging about the event, which was attended by Democratic Congressman Ruben Gallego. (Gallego was widely criticized earlier this year for calling the president “a psychopath.”)

The state Democratic Party hosted a similar “Happy Hour” event in Tempe less than one week later on the evening of May 9.


David Garcia, Democratic Party oppose Governor Ducey’s 20% teacher pay raise plan

PHOENIX — Democratic gubernatorial candidate David Garcia and the state Democratic Party are both pushing back against Governor Doug Ducey’s proposal to give Arizona teachers a 20 percent pay raise.

Governor Ducey, a Republican, announced a new plan Thursday to give a significant pay raise to teachers across Arizona. The plan includes an immediate 10 percent increase in salary, effective at the beginning of the Fall 2018 school year, and 5 percent increases at the beginning of each of the next two years — for a total of a 20 percent raise.

The investment is in addition to the governor’s proposal to fully restore recession-era funding cuts to education, which he announced earlier this year.

The Arizona Democratic Party issued a press release dismissing the plan as a “bandage.”

“There’s no doubt Arizona’s teachers deserve a respectful wage, but Ducey’s pay raise proposal is the sort of ‘political theater’ that only vulnerable governors pull on an election year,” Herschel Fink, the party’s executive director, said.

Laurie Roberts, a liberal columnist with the Arizona Republic, mocked the Democratic Party’s characterization on social media.

“Democratic Party just called @DougDucey’s 3-yr plan to raise teacher pay by 19% ‘a bandage,’” Roberts tweeted in response. “Seriously?”

Hank Stephenson, a K-12 education policy reporter at the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson, agreed.

“lol Dems are so mad rn Ducey just took just gave them what they wanted and now they have no campaign talking points,” Stephenson tweeted.

David Garcia, one of the Democrats running against Governor Ducey in 2018, said that the proposal did not pass the smell test for him and might be “robbing from other needs” in the budget. “We do not give Doug Ducey the benefit of the doubt,” he said.

Garcia has faced intense scrutiny over the past several weeks for his role in politicizing the #RedForEd movement, which critics saw as an attempt to benefit his campaign. The Democrat was confronted on the radio for “making it political” and having “trampled on #RedForEd’ Day” in March. Garcia lost the endorsement of the American Federation of Teachers, a union headed by Randi Weingarten, to his Democratic primary opponent one week later.

State Senator Steve Farley, Garcia’s opponent, offered a more measured response to Governor Ducey’s plan, praising it as a “first step.”

“While it looks like we may have turned the battle in our favor, the fight is never over,” he said.

When interviewed last month about the prospect of a teachers union strike, Farley initially refused to answer the question directly.

He responded that it was “hard to tell” if such a strike would be counterproductive but ultimately said: “If the teachers are leaning in this direction and we’re not getting any action when it comes to the legislature, then we should support where the teachers are going.”

A version of this article appears at The Farley Report.


Oops! AZ Dem Party’s tone-deaf GIF shows Pennsylvania shooting missile at CD-08

PHOENIX — There’s nothing quite like an accidental nuclear missile to make constituents feel safe.

After Democrat Conor Lamb won the special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th congressional district earlier this week, the Arizona Democratic Party tried to capitalize on the victory by claiming that momentum is in their favor.

The state party sent out several fundraising emails to supporters making the case that, if Lamb can win in Pennsylvania, Democratic congressional candidate Hiral Tipirneni can win in Arizona.

“Last night, a SOLID TRUMP district elected a DEMOCRAT in Pennsylvania’s special election,” one of those emails said. “The next big special is RIGHT HERE in Arizona and we’re going all out to make sure Dr. Hiral Tipirneni is the next Democrat to SHOCK the political world.”

But the GIF embedded in the middle of that email . . . caught recipients’ attention.

What was likely intended as celebratory fireworks moving westward looked a lot like Pennsylvania shooting a missile at Arizona’s eighth congressional district, culminating in explosive sparks and all.

Last week, the Arizona Democratic Party sent out another email begging donors for “a spare room or bed” or even a “top bunk” for out-of-state operatives looking to influence the state’s special election.

Tipirneni — whose prospects of winning have been called a “pipedream” by the Arizona Republic’s liberal columnist — was mocked this week for accidentally holding a “Meet & Greet” event for prospective constituents outside of the congressional district that she’s running to represent.

Tipirneni will face Republican former state senator Debbie Lesko on April 24.


Arizona Democratic Party begs donors for “a spare room or bed” for out-of-state operatives

PHOENIX — The Arizona Democratic Party sent out a fundraising email last week begging supporters for “a spare room or bed,” “a couch,” or even a “top bunk” for out-of-state political operatives.

The state party said that it is seeking extra residential space for Democratic operatives from other states looking “to turn AZ blue.”

“Folks all across the country are packing their bags and getting ready to head where the action is in Arizona, and they need a place to drop those bags on their way to the office,” the fundraising email said. “We’re asking our best supporters: Can you host a staffer?”

In recent months, the state Democratic Party has projected public optimism about its chances of winning the open seat in Arizona’s eighth congressional district — but the optimism has largely been met with ridicule.

Laurie Roberts, a liberal columnist for the Arizona Republic, criticized Arizona Democratic Party chair Felecia Rotellini as “delusional” for promoting a “pipedream” that Democrats could win the heavily-Republican district.

Hiral Tipirneni, a campaign donor to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, won the Democratic nomination in February. During her first televised interview after the primary race, the candidate responded to a question about her immigration platform by saying that a border wall was “not the answer.” She suggested spending the proposed funds on, among other things, “clean energy” and “renewable energy sources” instead.

Tipirneni will face Republican former state senator Debbie Lesko in the general election on April 24.