Monday, November 11, 2002

The Election Column

There will be time for serious analysis of the election results. This week, it was time for serious fun at the expense of Matt Salmon --who finally conceded late Sunday night. To web page readers (as opposed to the newspaper and email kind), sorry about reusing the opening line.

There's another interesting fact about last week's election. In the Attorney General's race, Terry Goddard far outpaced a right-wing wacko, running ahead of both Janet and Prop. 202 statewide. He even carried Maricopa County, which is 3:2 Republican in registration. Much of that margin probably came from the extreme views of his opponent (Grant Woods said that the Republican, after the primary, would have to move back to the middle, but in his case it meant the Middle Ages), but in a Clean Elections world, where down-ballot candidates have very little money to spend and are matched and capped in fundraising, name identification is paramount. Even where a candidate last ran statewide in 1994, and even if that election was a loss, that kind of name ID can win a statewide race for any office other than governor.

Hmm. Excuse me, I gotta go and make some phone calls....

East Valley Tribune, Nov. 10, 2002

Welcome to Arizona -- one of the few places electing Democrats this year.

So Massachusetts just elected yet another GOP governor, and a Republican also wins in Maryland. Meanwhile, Democrats capture the governorships in Arizona, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Wyoming. As the kids say, what’s up with that?

I’m more accustomed to the usual pattern, where we Arizona Democrats get our heads handed to us but can take solace from successes in the rest of the country. This past week, I’ve been relatively sanguine about what happened elsewhere because we had good results here, including winning the big enchilada. Who’da thunk it?

Even poor, beleaguered, and underfunded George Cordova managed to finish within 3 points of Rick Renzi. Consider it a moral victory. Check out here, where the fourth place finisher in the Democratic primary tries to convince you that his race was “virtually a four way tie.” By that standard, Cordova is a “virtual winner.” Who says close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades?

I know everybody’s gun-shy from miscalling states on election night in 2000, but the governor’s race is over, done, finished. Oh, they need to count more ballots than the margin, but there’s just no way the result changes. Trust me on this one; I’ve been on the wrong side of these final counts so many times, hoping somehow that ballots in one box are statistically different than those in every other box. Of course, if you believe that, the next time the doctor wants to take a blood sample, don’t let her take just that one little tube -- make her take it all.

By this week’s deadline, Matt Salmon still hasn’t woken up and smelled the numbers. Instead, he’s asking for “closure” and talking about how “everybody has a right to have their vote counted” and that we must “count every ballot.” He’s even sounding like Al Gore now.

If he hasn’t conceded by the time today’s paper hits your driveway, it’s only a matter of time before Salmon starts wearing earth tones, grows a beard, and invents the Internet.

Salmon’s putting off conceding as long as possible, because what on earth does he do now? The man managed to lose the Arizona's governor’s race during a historically exceptional Republican year. You don’t think J.D. Hayworth won’t be reminding every GOP donor (and/or people with business before the “powerful Ways and Means Committee,” as the cliché goes) for the next four years how Matt managed to blow it and doesn’t deserve another chance?

Also, as soon as he concedes, Salmon goes back to lobbying. Maybe he can hook up with Alfredo Gutierrez; they’ll both have about the same juice under the new regime. Those make-work jobs and consulting gigs are a lot easier to snag when you’re on the way up.

Fair? Of course not. But who said politics is fair? After all, this is a country where it’s appropriate, even applauded, if Sen. Hillary Clinton gets booed at a benefit for 9/11 victims and relatives, but it’s an unspeakable vulgarity (of which we won’t cease speaking) for Democrats to get too rowdily partisan at the Wellstone memorial service. Whether we get booed or do the booing, it’s always the Democrats’ fault. Welcome to our world, Matt.

Speaking of double standards, Gov.-elect Janet Napolitano will be constantly reminded that she won a “narrow” victory, “barely” got elected, and “squeaked” into office. The people -- and reporters -- making these statements, of course, never seem to remember that each of them applies to George W. Bush.

Still, Janet has one thing on the president. At least she got more votes than her opponent.

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