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.
We've had many people ask us over the last few months whether Project White House 2012 is serious, or just a big joke.
We find ourselves asking: Is Newt Gingrich's moon base a big joke? Is Ron Paul serious when he says that medical care for seniors was better before Medicare? Is Rick Santorum serious when he says that abortion doctors belong behind bars? Is Mitt Romney serious when he says his sons are serving the country by helping him get elected rather than enlisting in the military?
In light of all that, we believe the Project White House candidates are just as serious about running the country as the Republican Party's frontrunners.
In case you have not been following Project White House: We invited all of the candidates on the Feb. 28 Arizona presidential-primary ballot to participate in a Reality Journalism competition in order to win the Tucson Weekly's presidential endorsement. More than half of the Republicans on the ballot—12 out of 23—signed up, as did half of the Green Party candidates.
Over the last several weeks, we have presented them with a variety of challenges, from making Facebook pages for their campaigns to developing hit ads against their high-profile opponents. The competition culminated last weekend with a pair of presidential debates televised by our friends at Access Tucson. (If you missed 'em, they've been posted on The Range so you can size up the candidates yourselves.)
Now, with the Feb. 28 presidential primary just days away, the time has come for us to make our endorsements.
We must say: We're impressed with this year's crop of dark-horse Republican candidates. We think that Charles Skelley is right when he says that too many manufacturing jobs have left the United States. Al "Dick" Perry is right when he says that corporations have too much power and demonstrate too little civic responsibility. Peter "Simon" Bollander is right when he says we have too many lawyers in politics. Jim Terr is right when he says a cascade of money has corrupted our election process. Donald Benjamin is right when he says grocery stores are too confusing. And Kip Dean is right when he says the front-runners in the GOP primary are just plain unlikable.
That brings us to a fundamental problem with the GOP: It's in desperate need of a makeover. These old white dudes running for president—Romney, Santorum, Gingrich, Paul—just don't seem to be in touch with the modern world or remotely prepared to deal with its increasingly complex challenges.
And that's why we're endorsing Sarah Gonzales, the only Latina on the GOP primary ballot in Arizona.
In the Project White House televised debates, Gonzales described herself as "severely awesome"—and we're inclined to agree. We don't know that we agree with her stances on everything, but much of what she calls for sounds good to us.
We should spend less on overseas wars. We should pay teachers more. We should have more arts classes and physical education in our schools. We should crack down on white-collar crime. We should reconsider how many people we lock away, and stop the growth of a private-prison industry that turns a profit on putting people behind bars. We should invest more in solar energy. We should have more poetry in our lives.
And we agree with what Gonzales says about her platform: It makes a lot more sense than 9-9-9.
The Tucson Weekly endorses Sarah Gonzales in the 2012 Arizona Republican primary.
Three of the six Green Party candidates on the Arizona ballot are participating in Project White House: Richard Grayson, Gary Swing and Michael Oatman.
All of the Greens have done a lot to express their plans through Project White House, but we have been most impressed with Richard Grayson, including his plan to deport Republicans back to the 18th century, where they could be more comfortable with their tricorner hats and other Tea Party garb, and his demand that Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu be nicer to his ex-boyfriends. Few of the Project White House candidates have done a better job of responding to the issues of the day.
Arizona's Presidential Preference Election
The Green Candidates
The Republican Candidates
Wayne Charles Arnett
Raymond Scott Perkins