Big congratulations to Arizona’s Sarah Gonzales, the big winner of Project White House and sixth-place finisher in Tuesday’s presidential primary.
Gonzales, who earned the Tucson Weekly’s endorsement in the Republican primary, had 1,464 votes as of yesterday. Gonzales clobbered former Louisiana governor Buddy Roemer, who got only 657 votes. She trails Texas Gov. Rick Perry by just 418 votes.
Gonzales, who describes her unexpectedly strong showing as “crazy,” suggests that, as the only woman on the GOP ballot, she was an attractive candidate to Republicans who are unhappy with the way the four GOP front-runners are talking about women’s rights.
“I think Republican women and some Republican in general are tried of extremist views, but there’s no other options for them,” Gonzales says. “So me just existing—I don’t think they knew my opinions or my views—gave them an option. With women’s bodies right now, it’s so crazy. It’s a battleground. There’s a war being waged on women.”
Despite coming in sixth on the Arizona ballot, Gonzales says she’ll likely suspend her campaign for the presidency rather than take it to the convention later this year.
“Somebody asked me if I was going to be Mitt Romney’s running mate, but I thought it was a ploy to get me to self-deport, so I said no,” says Gonzales, who still intends to remain a Republican for the time being and see how it works out.
The other Perry on the ballot didn’t fare quite as well. Al “Dick” Perry—who enjoyed a hot streak out the gate with mentions on Rachel Maddow, Talking Points Memo, and Texas Monthly—ended up with 288 votes, including family members throughout the state.
Perry said he believed his placement in the No. 4 slot on the ballot cost him votes because many of his supporters were looking for his name at the bottom and the ballot and inadvertently voted for Rick Perry.
"i think Rick Perry stole a lot of votes away from me," Perry said.
He said that he would be wrapping up his presidential campaign.
"I'm not cut out for for politics," Perry said. "The people have spoken."
Romney's beating Santorum, which is what most pundits will take away from the Arizona Presidential Preference Primary tonight, but the real news is the success Tucson Weekly endorsed Project White House candidate Sarah Gonzales is having so far. Currently, with 244 of 722 precincts reporting, she already has 1,095 votes, putting her in sixth place, behind Romney, Santorum, Gingrich, Paul, and Rick Perry. However, she's within striking distance of Perry, who currently has 1,418 votes.
Our Green Party endorsement has been less helpful, as Richard Grayson has 18 votes, trailing leader Jill Stein, who has 202.
More to come as the evening unfolds.
In case you don't have time to sit through the entire, one-hour Project White House Dark Horse Republican presidential debate (or the one-hour unofficial debate), here's a clip of highlights. And if that whets your appetite, you can watch the whole thing here.
Rasmussen has a new poll out in the wake of the Arizona debate that shows Mitt Romney taking big lead over Rick Santorum in next week's presidential primary:
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has widened his lead over leading challenger Rick Santorum in the Arizona Republican Primary race with the vote just four days away.
The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Arizona Republican Primary Voters finds Romney leading Santorum 42% to 29%. The survey, taken after the last scheduled debate of the GOP candidates, finds Romney up three points and Santorum down two from a week ago when it was a 39% to 31% race.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich earns 16% support, and Texas Congressman Ron Paul trails with eight percent (8%), marking virtually no change for either man from the previous survey. Only one percent (1%) favors another candidate in the race, and three percent (3%) remain undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)
This Arizona survey of 750 Likely Republican Primary Voters was conducted on February 23, 2012 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 4 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.
Romney is also taking a big lead over Santorum in Michigan, according to Rasmussen. Santorum has hit his high-water mark.
Takeaways from last night’s debate:
• Rick Santorum needed to score a knock-out blow to turn things around for him in Arizona. He didn’t. Baring something completely nutty over the weekend, Mitt’s gonna win the Grand Canyon State next week; Nate Silver is now giving him an 89 percent chance of victory here.
• Michigan remains up for grabs, but Santorum has been running on fumes for a long time and his bubble is set to pop. It appears to me that Republicans will settle on Romney as their nominee, despite their misgivings that he’s too liberal, too rich, too much of an android, etc.
• I suspect there’s truth to the theory that Ron Paul was helping Mitt out by ganging up on Santorum.
• Newt Gingrich was unusually kind to moderator John King. Maybe he really is cheerful these days. I came away wondering which of his ideas was less crazy: The whole moon-base mining colony by the end of his first term or the double-layer border wall by the end of the first year of his administration? In case you missed it, here was his promise, from the CNN transcript:
Now, the thing that's fascinating, though, John, is you quoted a government study of how much it would cost. That's my earlier point. If you modernize the federal government so it's competent, you could probably do it for 10 percent of the cost of that study.
The fact is —
GINGRICH: — what I would do, I would — I have — I have a commitment at newt.org, I would — to finish the job by January 1, 2014, I would initiate a bill that would waive all federal regulations, requirement and studies.
I would ask Governor Brewer here, I would ask Governor Martinez, Governor Brown, and Governor Perry to become the co-leaders in their state. We would apply as many resources as are needed to be done by January 1 of 2014, including, if necessary — there are 23,000 Department of Homeland Security personnel in the D.C. area.
I'm prepared to move up to half of them to Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. This is a doable thing.
Leaving aside the potential environmental damage that could result from building a fence willy-nilly across the border, we'll see how the Native American tribes deal with that whole "waive all federal regulations, regulations and studies" thing.
Also: Whatever you might think of the Department of Homeland Security's bloat, I'm skeptical that the country will be safer if we put those folks all to work building a fence.
• Romney was careful to say that he didn't want to round up illegal immigrants now in the country illegally, although he did say he wanted to do more to prevent them from being employed.
• Rick Perry was in the audience, sitting with Calista Gingrich a few seats down the row from me. He looked fairly sleepy throughout most of the debate—but then again, that's how he often looked when he was actually onstage in the earlier debates, so he was probably relieved to be in the audience instead. He left his seat before the debate wrapped up, so I wasn’t able to ask him how he felt about Al “Dick” Perry's presidential campaign here in Arizona.
• CNN was making a big deal about the fact that during this debate, the candidates would be sitting at a table. You know who had that idea first? The answer after the jump.
A new Public Policy Polling survey puts Arizona in play in November, but pollster Tom Jensen ultimately puts AZ in the GOP column:
Arizona is a great microcosm of how Barack Obama's reelection prospects have improved over the last 3 months. When we polled there in November his approval numbers were atrocious and his prospects for winning the state in the general election didn't look very good. Now he's getting more popular, the Republicans are getting less popular, and he appears to have a decent chance there.
Obama is tied with Mitt Romney in the state at 47%. He leads Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich each by 4 points, 46-42 and 48-44 respectively. The only Republican he actually runs behind is Rick Santorum, although only by a single point at 47-46. This is the latest in an increasingly long line of our polls recently that challenge the premise that Romney is a much stronger general election candidate than Santorum.
Obama's standing against Romney is greatly improved from November when he trailed by 7 points at 49-42. Part of the reason for that is Obama's own numbers have improved. He has a 46/52 approval rating in the state now where it was 41/54 three months ago. Obama's approval rating with Democrats has increased from 74% to 87% over that time. That's a trend we're seeing nationally- the longer the GOP race gets dragged out, the more Democrats unify around Obama. Obama's also flipped his numbers with independents from negative territory (35/57) to positive (51/46).
Part of Obama's resurgence is his becoming more popular. The other part though is Romney's numbers heading in the wrong direction. He was already unpopular in Arizona the last time we polled with a -13 favorability spread (38/51). Now he's dropped even further to -21 (35/56). Romney's numbers with Republicans are pretty much unchanged. But he's gone from having an unusual number of Democrats seeing him positively (25%) to only 15% who mar k him favorably across party lines now. And with independents he's dropped from a bad 32/56 to a worse 24/67. The drawn out nature of this campaign is not helping him for the general.
In the end I doubt Obama would be able to beat Romney in Arizona. He's getting 16% of the Republican vote right now and that seems unlikely to hold once the GOP gets unified around its nominee. But the fact that we're even talking about Arizona as potentially being on the board right now is a big a shift from where we were a couple months ago.
In advance of the CNN debate coming up in Mesa tomorrow, Republican presidential candidates on the Feb. 28 Arizona primary ballot gathered over the weekend for two televised debates among the lesser-known contenders, including Al "Dick" Perry, Sarah Gonzales, Peter "Simon" Bollander, Kip Dean, Donald Benjamin, Charles Skelley and Jim Terr.
Award-winning journalist Dave Maass of San Diego CityBeat flew into Tucson to moderate the Tucson Weekly/Access Tucson/Project White House Dark Horse Republican Presidential Candidate Twitter Debate 2012. He was joined by University of Arizona journalism student Amanda Hurley.
A huge thanks to everyone who helped with the debates, from the candidates to Lisa Horner and the great staff at Access Tucson, who spent a great deal of time making sure that Sunday's forum went off without a hitch. You really ought to buy a ticket to their upcoming shindig celebrating free speech at the Tucson Museum of Art!
We're also excited to announce that tomorrow, we're going to announce the Tucson Weekly presidential primary endorsements and the winners of Project White House 2012!
Below the cut: The first Project White House debate.
While I suppose it could be a lot worse, it looks like the days of true citizen democracy in the Arizona Presidential Preference Primary might be over in 2016:
On a 48-3 margin Monday, the state House voted to scrap laws which let individuals put their names on the presidential preference primary simply by filing some paperwork. The result is that the Republicans seeking to make their pick for president this year have to search through a list of 23 contenders, ranging from Wayne Arnett of Tempe to Tucsonan Ronald Zack, to cast a vote for anyone who actually has a reasonable chance of becoming the nation's next chief executive.
If the Senate goes along with HB2379, would-be presidential contenders beginning in 2016 will have to find at least 1,000 Arizonans willing to sign petitions to nominate them.
Rep. Eddie Farnsworth, R-Gilbert, the sponsor of the measure, said there needs to be some standard to limit the ballot to those who are "serious" about running.
What I personally resent, however, is that Rep. Farnsworth seems to think that just because a candidate is only on the Arizona ballot that they aren't "serious" about running. So, Rick Santorum drops in once before a debate, Romney seems to ignore the state altogether, and I don't recall Newt Gingrich stopping by in recent memory. How "serious" are these candidates about Arizonans and their concerns? At least the Project White House candidates have actually made an effort to meet people in town instead of dropping in on their private jets at the last minute. Maybe we could just save some money and ditch the primaries altogether. Someone else is essentially making these choices for us anyhow, so why pretend any of these candidates care all that much about our state?
But, instead, the national parties and their corporate patrons are upset that the ballot includes some names they don't recognize, so Rep. Farnsworth stepped up to the plate for them. Good for him.