How Progressive Democrats Can Beat Republicans: Arizona Case Study

Blue Dogs: The Democrats TEA Party?

by DA Morales on Aug. 02, 2011, under Education, Environment, Headline news, Native American

In Arizona a clear divide can be found in the Democratic Party and this state can be used as a microcosm of what is going on nationwide.

Blue dogs vs Progressives.

Before the 2010 election, the two progressives, Raul Grijalva who is also the co-Chair of the Progressive Caucus, and Ed Pastor guaranteed a decade of rule under Arizona 8-seat US Congress.

Of the three self-proclaimed “Blue Dog Democrats,” who coincidentally just happen to also be the non-minorities:

  • Kirkpatrick got beat big time despite spending millions and having the incumbent advantage, and squandered DCCC money to become a one-term loser.
  • Harry Mitchell is out after just two terms.
  • Gabrielle Giffords was the only winner, barely pulling off a ticket to her third term by beating a newbie by less than 2 points, which may have been due to Jesse Kelly’s dumb move of ignoring the importance of advertising in Cochise county.
Only the Progressive Democrats have lasted a decade, and Giffords barely pulled off a win against a neophyte by less than 2 points. Table from Wikipedia.

Should one be proud of being a Blue Dog?

A brief history of Blue Dogs from Time magazine:

When the Democrats lost Congress in 1994, some Representatives blamed the defeat on a party they felt had shifted too far to the left. These disgruntled Democrats decided to form a coalition to stand against their more liberal party members.

They held meetings in the office of former Louisiana Representative Billy Tauzin, who reportedly had one of Cajun artist George Rodrigues’ famous Blue Dog paintings hanging on his wall. The Blue Dog Coalition’s website also lists as an inspiration the 1928 term Yellow Dog, used to refer to a Southern Democrat who was more likely to vote for a dog than for a Republican. Instead of being blinded by party loyalty, this new group complained that it had been “choked blue” by its own party.

Originally comprising just 23 members, mostly from Southern states, the Blue Dogs supported the Republicans’ Contract with America, complained that the Clinton White House was too liberal and called for a balanced federal budget.

Read more:,8599,1913057,00.html

In case you have forgotten, the new GOP leader 1994 and the Contract with America was due to Newt Gingrich, and Blue Dogs felt that President Clinton was too liberal and sided with Gingrich instead.

Something to be proud of?

The Time article also adds that “Blue Dogs tend to come from conservative areas of the country, where voters see them as a nonthreatening alternative to Republicans.

It’s a thin red line between love and hate…

Blue Dogs will continue to lose

With the exception of Giffords, who as any reader can agree is in a special category due to recent events, the rest of the Blue Dogs will continue to lose and continue to not regain the seats they lost, such as Ann Kirkpatrick in CD1.

Why vote for a Democrat who feels they are being “choked blue” by liberals when you can vote for a conservative?

Why vote for a weak Blue Dog Democrat when you can just vote Republican?

If you really don’t want any reform for immigration, why vote for Kirkpatrick, who failed to vote for the DREAM Act, when you can just vote for the TEA Party?

If you are conservative, the Blue Dogs are no match for the TEA Party… but if you are a Democrat or a liberal, the question becomes:

Why vote for the Blue Dog when a Progressive is running?

Progressives will remain true to Democratic principles, while Blue Dogs venture out into GOP territory. Consider the issue of environmental racism, where mines are being built in spite of opposition from the Native Americans who live next to the mines and have to deal with the pollution and exploitation that will take place, just for non-American mining corporations to make off with our country’s natural resources.

The “before” image of where the Resolution copper mine, as it looks now.

A bill to clear the way for development of North America’s largest copper mine, near Superior, was approved Wednesday by a deeply divided House Natural Resources Committee.

The party-line vote by the committee was 26-19, with Republicans supporting the federal land swap needed to facilitate the Resolution Copper Mining project and Democrats opposing it.

Wednesday’s vote pitted U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., the bill’s main sponsor, against Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz. Both Arizonans serve on the Natural Resources Committee. The mine would be in Gosar’s 1st Congressional District.

Paul Gosar is TEA Party, Raul Grijalva is Progressive. Republican vs. Democrat.

But why is Grijalva opposed and does he have alternatives?

Grijalva said the bill threatens sacred Apache lands and could shrink the region’s already-scarce water supply. The Democratic congressman, who blocked the bill from passage in the previous Congress, acknowledged he is fighting a losing battle now that Republicans have the House majority.

“They’ve got a clear path to get it done,” Grijalva said. “I hope we don’t end up in a position where we have buyer’s remorse later on.”

Grijalva offered four amendments to Gosar’s bill, but they were all defeated. The amendments included requirements that Superior residents be given preference for mine jobs over out-of-state residents and that the U.S. Geological Survey assess the impact of the mine on the region’s water resources before the land swap can be completed.

How could the TEA Party be opposed to something locally empowers, an amendment that residents living in the town where the mine will be get preference for the mining jobs over people who don’t even live in Arizona? How exactly does that benefit Paul Gosar’s constituents to hire people who not only don’t live in his district, but don’t even live in his state?

Location of Resolution Copper mine which will be the largest open pit copper mine in North America.
Just outside of Superior on the Oak Flats campground.

Grijalva is also taking the side of the Native American tribes in the region, and also acknowledging the very real water supply problem. Mining takes huge amounts of water, and furthermore it pollutes the clean water in the area used for drinking. History shows that mines sometimes leave a huge environmental disaster, but leave town especially if they are foreign such as Rosemont Copper south of Tucson is, owned by Canadians…

… and Resolution Copper, the mine we are discussing above, is also foreign, part of the Rio Tinto Group which is British-Australian.

The TEA Party is outsourcing our very own mining operations and natural resources!

How ironic that they are so anti-immigrant (Latinos), yet let Canadian and British-Australian foreigners take billions of dollars of our natural resources; surely race is not a factor in which foreigners are welcomed and which are hated?

Where does the Blue Dog stand on this issue? The one-term former Congressperson from CD1, Ann Kirkpatrick was on the same side as the TEA Party and Paul Gosar.

During the previous session of Congress, the bill stalled in the House despite support from former Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, a Democrat who represented Flagstaff and Superior.

Ann Kirkpatrick has minimal to no support from the tribes in CD1 for what she is doing to Mother Earth and to their water and sacred sites.

Most of them have already been co-opted by the corrupt mining companies and only stand before the American people as a pretense.

Former CD1 Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, friend of mining companies over the American Indian tribes.

Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick has lied to the Native Americans and her office has lied to the Coalition of Concerned Citizens and Retired Miners saying she can’t find the time to meet with them. She has been putting off meeting with them since last Oct.

According to Manuel Ortega, Chair of Superior’s Concerned Citizens and Retired Miners Coalition, “The southwestern part of the United States is currently in a prolonged drought. Mining is one of the most water-intensive industries on earth. Mining on Oak Flat could dewater Queen Creek and its aquifer.

Superior and Oak Flat are in the Maricopa County Active Management Area, so whatever water is used for mining will affect the East Valley in addition to the local community.”

Why Kirkpatrick lost: don’t ignore the progressives!

If you try to be more right-wing than the TEA Party and you are a Democrat, you will lose.

Republicans will not vote for you, and Democrats will not even come out to vote since you have given them nothing to vote for (and they will never vote for TEA Party). This is what the Arizona Daily Sun, Flagstaff’s newspaper, noticed recently.

Don’t credit a tea party-driven Republican surge for electing Paul Gosar in the First Congressional District.

Instead, blame Democrats and independents for staying home in record numbers, costing U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Flagstaff, her seat.

Unofficial results released by the Arizona Secretary of State show that Gosar actually pulled in 11,400 fewer votes than Sydney Hay, the GOP candidate in 2008.

But Kirkpatrick’s tally in 2010 fell off by a whopping 68,000 votes, or 44 percent.

“It was underperformance by Democratic turnout, by and large,” that cost the party this seat, said Harriet Young, a vice chair of the Coconino County Democratic Party.

Two years ago, Kirkpatrick was elected with more votes in the 1st District than any other candidate this decade.

But in each of the three counties where Democratic votes counted big in 2008 — Coconino, Yavapai and Pinal — there were 47 percent to 50 percent fewer votes for Kirkpatrick this time than there were in 2008.

In a nutshell, Gosar should never have won, and indeed he was even less popular than the GOP candidate in 2008 that lost.

But the Blue Dogs are even less popular than the TEA Party!

Democrats were disgusted in CD1, and didn’t even bother to vote. (CD1 is very important to Southern Arizona because it stretches from the Four Corners and Flagstaff down to Eloy, Oracle and Safford. The latest redistricting maps have Giffords supporting the giving away of Saddlebrooke and parts of Oro Valley to CD1, turning CD1 even more upscale Republican by entering Pima County’s affluent area, and assuring she won’t have to run against Jesse Kelly and instead only face Jon Justice.) We are talking about 50% less voters and the reason is simple.

Kirkpatrick and Blue Dogs are not appealing to Democrats.

Wenona Benally Baldenegro, candidate for Congress from Arizona.

They are so unappealing to Democrats that Kirkpatrick is not even going to survive the primary because she is running against the progressive and highly intelligent (ASU summa cum laude and two masters degrees from Harvard) Wenona Benally Baldenegro.

CD1 has a real choice in the next election, not between dumb and dumber, but between intelligence vs failed rhetoric, between respect for the environment vs letting foreigners plunder our natural resources via water-intensive mining.

Kirkpatrick had millions of dollars, wasted her funds from the DCCC, and even with the incumbent’s advantage, she lost big time. She is a loser in every sense of the word and CD1 is done with her.

And they are done with Gosar too, who only won because there was no other decent candidate.

That was 2010.

The year 2012 brings with it many new futures, including the first Native American woman to serve in the US Congress, right here in Arizona, someone who will not only treat the tribes with dignity, but who will be a champion for all of Arizona.

For progress it makes sense to vote progressive where instead of focusing on hate, the focus is on using our brains to find real solutions to our problems; creating jobs, transitioning to a sustainable economy, promoting education and health for all Arizonans.

Blue dogs have left me blue with disappointment, but progress is on the way thanks to Progressives in Arizona and people like Wenona Benally Baldenegro.

The year 2012 will be a hopeful year in Arizona, our 100th birthday as a state, especially with Russell Pearce out of office.

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