The Skinny

Trouble in School

Babeu's past continues to haunt him as he tries again to win a congressional seat

Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, the Republican candidate who is facing Democrat Tom O'Halleran in Congressional District 1, has been hammered throughout the campaign for his history as a headmaster at a Massachusetts school for troubled youth some 16 years ago.

Several of Babeu's GOP primary opponents hit him for his past support of what certainly appear to be the school's abusive practices, but he still emerged on top of a crowded primary with one-third of the vote. But it didn't take long for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to weigh in with their own ad highlighting Babeu's sketchy past.

Babeu called the press together last week with almost no notice in an effort to proclaim his innocence, but news outlets haven't exactly exonerated him.

Babeu offered some 1,700 pages of background material for the press to examine that he claimed would show his innocence.

But the fundamental problem for Babeu in his effort to clear his name is a damning bit of evidence that he both knew what was happening and approved of it. It's a videotape of Babeu himself praising some of the abusive techniques. The tape was made by Babeu's sister Lucy, who has a strained relationship with her brother. She provided it to ABC-15 Dave Biscobing, who has been covering Babeu's history at the school for years.

In the video, Babeu describes one of the techniques called "cornering," which involved forcing kids to sit in chairs facing the corner of a room and not allowing them to interact with anyone else at the school. Babeu says in the video that the school's students "need to feel hopeless and feel depression and complete failure."

Babeu has said that he was not prosecuted for any wrongdoing and, at other times, said he was unaware of the disciplinary techniques, but the videotape shows that he was aware of at least some of them and defended them. At last week's press conference, he said that he no longer supported that kind of disciplinary action.

Beyond his sister's damning videotape, Babeu has other problems. The DCCC is willing to spend to amplify this story, while the National Republican Campaign Committee has not reserved ad time to defend him. Babeu himself has spent roughly $100,000 for some new TV spots that are aimed at showing that he's tough on border issues, but voters in CD1, which stretches from Oro Valley and Marana all the way to Flagstaff and includes much of rural Eastern Arizona, are mostly hearing the story of Babeu's time running the troubled school that eventually shut down after multiple clashes with the state of Massachusetts.

CD1, which is now represented by Democratic Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick (who is giving up the seat to challenge Sen. John McCain), is one of the most competitive in the country. In past cycles, the NRCC has been willing to invest in candidates, so the fact that the committee is not spending this time suggests that polling is not in Babeu's favor.

Meanwhile, O'Halleran—a retired Chicago cop and former Republican state lawmaker—is up on the air today with a positive ad stressing his support of ethics reform, an obvious effort to set up a comparison between himself and Babeu.

CD2 Showdown

Team McSally releases poll that shows her way ahead of Democrat Matt Heinz

In Southern Arizona's Congressional District 2, Republican U.S. Rep. Martha McSally is facing a challenge from former state lawmaker Matt Heinz.

While the district is a competitive one—McSally unseated Democrat Ron Barber two years ago by just 167 votes—McSally appears to be in a strong position. She's a rising star in the GOP, she's raised more than $2 million for her campaign and she's got a good resume for the district: She's a former A-10 pilot and squadron leader and she's worked to reverse the Obama administration's push to shelve the A-10, which has endeared her to the local business community and the many vets in CD2.

Heinz is hoping to whittle away at her support among pro-choice voters by pointing out that McSally has repeatedly voted to defund Planned Parenthood. McSally has tried to say that she still supports funding clinics that provide services for women's health, but wants to move the money to organizations that don't also provide abortion services. Leaders in the local health-clinic community have rebuffed those efforts because they believe Planned Parenthood provides vital services that women depend on.

Earlier this week, Team McSally released a poll showing her with a 19-point lead over Heinz. The survey of 400 likely voters, conducted by WPA Research, showed that 56 percent supported McSally, while 37 percent favored Heinz.

Team Heinz was quick to dismiss McSally's polling numbers.

"I hate to be dismissive but a 19-point lead is a joke," Heinz campaign strategist Bill Scheel told the Weekly via email. "Notably, demographics of the sample are not included, so must be terribly skewed to reflect this result. This is a 50-50 district—it's never been anything other than a 50-50 district—and we expect the race to go down to the wire."

While McSally is touting a big lead, the campaign team is taking no chances. For example, McSally passed on the opportunity to do a televised debate with local PBS affiliate KUAT-TV. In fact, McSally—in a total gangster move—announced right after the general election that she would participate in only two debates: One out in Vail, in the heart of McSally's support in Pima County, and one in Sierra Vista, where she's also popular. There was no negotiations with the Heinz campaign; McSally just announced these were the debates and Heinz could show up or not.

As it turns out, Heinz decided to accept the Sierra Vista debate, but he declined the one in Vail, so as of now, there is no debate between the two candidates scheduled in Pima County, though we hear some negotiations are ongoing.

It's a far cry from two years ago, when McSally repeatedly accused Barber of being scared to defend his record in debates even after he'd agreed to a televised debate with AZPM as well as a debate in Sierra Vista. Barber also agreed to participate in a debate with the League of Women Voters that would have been televised on local NBC affiliate KVOA-TV, but Team McSally dropped the ball and failed to agree to terms, according to multiple sources close to the organizers.

Why is McSally avoiding a televised debate? It's hard to say, but McSally has been sidestepping the question of whether she'll vote for Trump in November and maybe she didn't want to talk about the GOP nominee in front of televised audience.

In retrospect, Trump may not have been the liability Team McSally was anticipating; according the aforementioned poll that gave her a big lead, Trump is leading Clinton by 5 percentage points in CD2, 43 percent to 38 percent.

The Sierra Vista debate is at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 12, at Buena High School, 5225 Buena School Blvd.

Correction: This story originally reported that Heinz had agreed to participate in the Vail debate.

Ally Oops, Again

County officials honor Ann Day, but Supervisor Miller makes a scene before fleeing ceremony

A big crowd turned out on Saturday, Sept. 24, to honor the late Ann Day, the former state lawmaker and Pima County supervisor who was killed in an auto collision on Mother's Day weekend.

The Pima County Board of Supervisors has named a park on Mona Lisa Road for Day and the dedication ceremony brought together many former supervisors, along with Day's family and others who had worked with her. Speakers included Supervisors Sharon Bronson, Ray Carroll, Richard Elias and Ramon Valadez.

"When Ann was on the board, there were two things that she talked about," Bronson told the crowd. "It was conserving the environment and it was more soccer fields for kids."

Elias said that Day "was strong and she did what she thought was right, rather than what might have been politically convenient. And that's really the mark of a person who cares, the mark of a person who is a good steward, a person that places the needs of the many above the needs of the few. And that was my friend, Ann."

One county supervisor who was not invited to speak was Republican Ally Miller, who now represents the area. We hear Miller was making noise about joining the ceremony after the program had already been printed, but county officials said it was too late to add her to the official list.

Miller has never been much of a fan of Day. She besmirched Day's reputation when she was running for the office, saying she would fix the many problems Day hadn't attended to. And Miller skipped Day's memorial service at Brandy Fenton Park, skipped another ceremony that honored Day at a bridge dedication and had nothing to say following a moment of silence held at a board meeting after Day's death.

Miller did turn up on Saturday morning, but was told there was no speaker slot available to her. She responded by accosting Day's grieving daughter to demand to know why she wouldn't be able to say a few words.

Pima County Supervisor Ray Carroll, who has frequently tangled with Miller, had to intercede and offered to recognize Miller, but Miller angrily left rather than remain to honor Day's memory.

After the ceremony, Carroll told The Skinny that Miller has never shown much public sympathy for Day's passing.

"There has never been a lot of praise, or even concern, remorse," Carroll said. "In fact, there's really been no condolences offered to the family."

Instead, Carroll added, there's been "confrontation only, like this one. I told her there was a misunderstanding or a miscommunication, sure. Let's just leave it at that, but she wanted more. She wanted to be able to speak and I told her that I would be happy to recognize her during my time with the audience, but she didn't like that and stormed off."

Speaking of Miller: She recently told the Sun City Oro Valley Government Affairs Committee that she wouldn't be attending a forum featuring county candidates on Monday, Oct. 10. Miller's opponent, Democrat Brian Bickel, will be in attendance.

Miller, who has been embroiled in a controversy over her refusal to turn over public records related to her email all summer, has also skipped the opportunity to debate Bickel in a televised forum with Arizona Public Media and turned down the chance to meet with the morning daily's editorial board.

Pay Dispute

McCain opposes minimum-wage initiative, while challenger Kirkpatrick embraces it

When it comes to the minimum-wage issues, there's a huge gulf between Sen. John McCain and his Democratic challenger, Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick.

Last week, Kirkpatrick came out in support of Prop 206, the Fair Wages and Healthy Families Act that voters will decide in the November election.

The proposition would increase the Arizona minimum wage from the current $8.05 an hour to $10 in 2017 and $12 by 2020, with future increases based on cost-of-living adjustments. It would also mandate that employers provide with at least three days of sick leave.

Kirkpatrick said that she encouraged "every voter to stand with Arizona families" in a prepared statement.

"No one who works 40 hours a week should have to live in poverty and decide between buying groceries, medicine or paying the bills," said Kirkpatrick. "Raising the minimum wage offers hardworking families the opportunity to put food on the table, care for their children, and creates a better future for our state."

But in an interview with the Weekly, McCain said the proposition would be bad for Arizona families.

"Twice I've talked to groups of franchisees here in Arizona, Taco Bell and McDonalds, those places that give you the first rung on the ladder," McCain said. "They said, 'Fine. The next time you drive up to a window, you won't be talking to a person. The next time you they hand you a hamburger and French fries, it will come out a slot. ... They have a certain profit margin. They cannot raise their cost of their product or people will stop purchasing it. So what are they going to do? They're going to automate. So somebody is going to have to convince me that it's good for employment in America, and I don't think it is."

Prop 206 has the support of the Arizona Education Association, Arizona AFL-CIO, Arizona Building Trades and Construction Council, Pima Area Labor Federation, Planned Parenthood Arizona, United Food and Commercial Workers and other groups.

But business organizations such as the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Tucson Metro Chamber and Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce are opposed to the initiative.