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.

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David Garcia quietly fundraises with Alec Baldwin in Beverly Hills

PHOENIX — Democratic gubernatorial candidate David Garcia quietly attended a fundraiser Thursday co-hosted by Hollywood celebrities like Alec Baldwin and Alyssa Milano.

The fundraiser was first reported by the entertainment-business trade magazine Variety. It was attended by two other Democratic candidates, Stacey Abrams and Andrew Gillum, who are running for governor of Georgia and Florida, respectively.

The same trio attended an event in Washington, D.C., last month, where they received an endorsement from People for the American Way, a liberal group with ties to the secretive Democracy Alliance donor club.

Thursday’s fundraiser, which took place at the Beverly Hills home of Heather Thomas and Skip Brittenham, was co-hosted by entertainment figures like Alec Baldwin, Rashida Jones, Norman Lear, Alyssa Milano, and Tracee Ellis Ross, according to the magazine, noting that “Hollywood has given lopsided support to Democrats for decades.”

Thomas, an actress, and Brittenham, a lawyer, have become major donors to Democratic candidates and causes over the years, contributing thousands of dollars to the campaigns of Senator Elizabeth Warren, former Senator Al Franken, and others.

The fundraiser’s co-hosts also are notable supporters of liberal causes. Baldwin is best known these days for his recurring impressions mocking President Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live, while Milano has ramped up her political donations, contributing to the failed campaigns of Democrats like Jon Ossoff and Brianna Westbrook.

Garcia — whose campaign was criticized earlier this month for having “trampled on” a grassroots demonstration organized by teachers — recently lost the endorsement of the American Federation of Teachers to his Democratic primary opponent, State Senator Steve Farley of Tucson.

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David Garcia slammed for politicizing grassroots event organized by teachers

PHOENIX — David Garcia’s gubernatorial campaign was slammed on the radio Wednesday for its role in politicizing a grassroots effort focused on teachers.

Garcia, a Democrat, won an endorsement from the Arizona Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, this week over his primary opponent, State Senator Steve Farley. However, Garcia’s campaign and the union were criticized for announcing the endorsement at a press conference in the middle an unrelated demonstration that had been spontaneously organized by teachers.

The grassroots event — called “Red For Ed,” meaning “education” — was intended to give educators a platform to discuss public policies affecting their classrooms.

During a call-in appearance afterward on KTAR (92.3 FM), radio hosts Mac & Gaydos told Garcia that they thought “making it political” by injecting his campaign distracted from educators who were trying to share their message.

“Did you feel like you were, you know, you being endorsed by the teachers union trampled on ‘Red For Ed’ Day?” the host asked. “‘Cause I think it did.”

(Click Here To Listen To The Exchange.)

Garcia responded that this was “the very first time I’ve heard this (criticism) all day,” adding that “today is not about my campaign.”

The radio hosts quickly cut in.

“But if it’s not about your campaign, why do it today on ‘Red For Ed’ Day?” they responded. “It is about your campaign, I think.”

Garcia tried to reiterate that the event wasn’t about his campaign but ended up coming full-circle.

“I am proud that the AZEA (Arizona Education Association) has endorsed my campaign,” the candidate concluded.

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Steve Farley loses teachers union endorsement to David Garcia

PHOENIX — In another blow to State Senator Steve Farley’s gubernatorial campaign, Arizona’s largest teachers union on Wednesday endorsed his Democratic primary opponent, David Garcia, for the state’s top office.

The endorsement from the Arizona Education Association occurred during an unrelated outdoor demonstrated called “Red For Ed” — the latter word standing for “education” — which was organized by teachers. The effort urged educators to show up wearing the color red and to advocate for public policies affecting their classrooms.

Garcia and the teachers union scheduled a press conference in the area, with most attendees also dressed in red.

“We believe that we have found someone that will step into the role as governor and turn this state around, who will address the teaching crisis head-on, who has ideas of ways to bring in the resources for teachers to be successful and will reverse the trend and end the status quo of mediocrity in our schools,” said Joe Thomas, president of the Arizona Education Association. “And that person is David Garcia.”

Garcia, wearing a red tie, spoke after Thomas.

“I am not running to be an education governor,” the candidate told the crowd. “When we win, we will elect an educator, a teacher, as governor.”

Garcia and Farley have been locked in a better primary race for the Democratic nomination.

Garcia, a professor at Arizona State University, recently won the endorsement of People for the American Way Action Fund, a liberal political group with ties to a secretive network of top donors to the Democratic Party called the Democracy Alliance. The professor accepted the endorsement on Arizona Statehood Day when he traveled to Washington, D.C.

However, Farley significantly out-fundraised his opponent in the most recent campaign-finance filing period. The state senator raised $513,000 for his gubernatorial run, while Garcia raised less than $300,000 — and reported having already spent more than two-thirds of that amount.

Garcia recently cited a poll characterizing Republican Governor Doug Ducey as politically “vulnerable” during the 2018 midterm elections, but the firm behind the poll was revealed to have long-standing ties to the Democratic Party, raising the question of whether the data was tainted by bias or partisanship.

A version of this article first appeared at The Farley Report.

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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.

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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.

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