Wednesday, August 27, 2008

You meet the nicest nuts running for Congress in Arizona's CD1

There are interesting advantages to living in a small-towny area -- advantages like meeting congressional candidates in person while you (and they) are shopping at Home Depot. So when Barry Hall, a retired Baptist minister with plastic hair who is contending for the GOP congressional nomination, pressed his business card into my hand by the refrigerator display, it was no great surprise. I promised to check out his Website and went on my way.

Unfortunately, his Website ( is off-line, so I had to rely on Google's cache to discover that the Reverend Hall is a bit ... off. The cache of the site promises that "Barry has already sat in Congress for 70-80 hours" and the front page is half-consumed by a more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger diatribe against PACs.

What does he plan to do? Who knows. I give him credit for admitting, "Some of my concerns are like rough boards that might need your help to build upon or improve." His similes could use improvement too, of course. But one of those rough boards he might want to sand or polish or whatever is this: "Social Security must be fixed, not destroyed or allowed to go bankrupt. I wish I knew exactly how."

There aren't a lot of firm proposals on his political views page although -- interestingly for a conservative preacher -- he appears open to same-sex civil unions as long as they aren't called "marriage."

Maybe I'm being mean by focusing on Hall. After all, he isn't really a viable contender.

The "serious" candidates in the race consist of the usual sort of Republicans (generally good on economic freedom, sucky on personal liberty, and want to blow everybody up) and Democrats (decent on civil liberties, lousy on economic freedom, don't want to blow up other countries except for, maybe, Sudan).

Ann Kirkpatrick appears to be positioning herself as the "moderate" (read, electable in a Republican district) Democrat, by being not so socially tolerant and not so economically idiotic. Her Website follows in the fine tradition of American moderation by being unconscionably vague. For instance, on education, she promises to "make education a priority" and "work for real change." On Gitmo, surveillance and the PATRIOT Act she ... makes no mention whatsoever.

Sandra Livingstone combines an insistence on calling herself a "doctor" (her Website is despite a total lack of medical credentials (her PhD is in law) with close ties to the Bush administration (she worked for the State Department) and a hefty dose of "fair trade" economic populism (in an interview she specifies the Cato Institute as a think tank whose lead she would not follow).

Guess who I'm not voting for!

Howard Shanker seems to fall in line with a recent local Democratic tradition of running congressional candidates who meant to file in Manhattan but accidentally submitted their paperwork in Arizona's CD1. (Ellen Simon, an attorney active with the ACLU, was the previous holder of this honor). Shanker's particular interest is environmentalism of the sort that's hostile to property right, private enterprise and modern civilization, and his Website complains "Our economic instability is due largely to the government's failure to provide comprehensive planning."

Comprehensive planning? Oh goody. Can we announce your plan on May Day?

Shanker's Positions page also includes nothing -- nada -- about privacy, the PATRIOT Act, or other civil liberties.


Sydney Hay appears to be the most free-market of the Republican contenders (and of the candidates in general). She sat on the board of the Goldwater Institute and wants to abolish the income tax. She also wants to get the feds out of funding and regulating public schools and expand school choice. Of course, she also touts her endorsement by Arizona Right to Life and praises the idea of a border fence to stop brown folks and drug smugglers.

Why not just dig a moat while you're at it? You could fill it with what's left of the Colorado River.

And Mary Kim Titla, a Democrat, may be the most photogenic of the candidates. The Democrat's attractive mug -- she's a former spokesmodel ... err ... TV newscaster -- stares from posters all over the district. She's also the most tech savvy -- her ad pops up on Facebook whenever I sign on to taunt an old college friend.

Titla's Website actually endorses the use of spending earmarks. Otherwise, it speaks in broad generalities -- except for a promise to "protect Social Security from the jaws of privatization."

Tom Hansen, a rumpled-looking electrical engineer, combines a stereotypical Republican vague nod toward something resembling free choice in economic matters -- he criticizes "a myriad of rules, regulations, reports, legislation, tax incentives, tax disincentives, standards and paperwork that adds costs to American business," for instance, but hedges his bets on Social Security -- with an equally stereotypical Republican disdain for anybody who might want to follow his grandparents' path into this country. He also doesn't like gay marriage or abortion.

So there you have it. A choice between economic liberty and social thuggery or economic authoritarianism and social ... Hey, didn't I say Democrats are good on civil liberties?

Actually, the Democrats are a bit better on personal freedom issues than their Websites suggest. When pressed by the Daily Sun, they do concede that, sure, they have some concerns about the PATRIOT Act and the death penalty. They're just not going to advertise the fact that there are any attractive elements to their candidacies. (Republican Hansen also seems to object to the PATRIOT Act -- I think.)

There's no Libertarian in the race, but Independent Brent Maupin thinks our problems will be solved once we elect "incorruptible leaders."

Yeah. Good luck with that.

Hmmm ... Maybe the Reverend Hall doesn't stand out so much from the pack after all.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

So who are you going to vote for?

August 27, 2008 8:24 PM  
Blogger J.D. Tuccille said...

Good question ...

I'm not eligible to vote in the primary, so I'll have to see who gets the nod from the two organized crime ... umm ... major parties. I could probably vote for Hay based on her reasonably sane economic positions, though I might consider a Democrat who didn't act as if an interest in civil liberties was a shameful family secret.

Basically, I have to see how this shakes out between now and November.

August 27, 2008 8:33 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

We do have a Libertarian running in this Congressional District, as well as each of the other 7. Some are running as write-in's for the primary, and if they get sufficient write-in votes (around 10 or so), they will be listed on the general election ballot just like any other regular candidate.

See a list of our Arizona Libertarian candidates here:

-- Michael Kielsky
Chairman, Arizona Libertarian Party

August 27, 2008 9:07 PM  
Blogger Fred said...

What I often do in partisan elections is vote for the Libertarian Party candidate. If there's no LP candidate, I often don't vote. That often happens in our congressional races up here. The Democrat really isn't all that hot (although not as bad as some of the other Dems holding office in my district) but the Republican is War Party. Vote NOTA.

Except, in California, the Democrats have controlled the state legislature for decades. If there's no LP candidate for state senate or assembly, I'll usually vote for the Republican. The legislature needs to be balanced out so I'll always vote for the minority.

August 28, 2008 7:20 AM  
Blogger J.D. Tuccille said...

There are Libertarian candidates running? Good -- although I wish they were more visible. I'll keep an eye out for them and probably cast my vote that way come November.

August 28, 2008 12:29 PM  
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March 19, 2009 1:45 AM  

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