Thursday, June 05, 2008

Politics 101: A Tale of Two Incumbents

...On one hand, we have freshman Democrat Harry Mitchell. He's defending his seat a district where he faces a crowded field of Republican challengers hoping to take advantage of a daunting Republican registration advantage in the district.

Instead of running scared (which has never been Mitchell's style in nearly four decades of public service anyway), he has simply been doing his job, working for the people of his district.

- He's been working tirelessly since he took office in January 2007 to support the Fifth District's (and America's!) veterans with H.R. 5740, the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008, prodding the Veterans' Administration over its almost-criminally lax efforts to meet the medical, psychological, and social needs of injured veterans (here, here, and here), meeting with his Veterans Advisory Council here in the district, or myriad other efforts on behalf of vets.

Here his efforts have been less focused on ideology than on people.

- Since late last year, Mitchell and his staff have been working to address the failures at a water treatment facility that resulted in many of his constituents being exposed to TCE-contaminated drinking water. Again, his instincts are to help his constituents.

- More recently (Wednesday, as a matter of fact), he's working to help Corona del Sol High School by bringing national attention to the plight of students, faculty, and staff. They've been dealing with air-quality related medical ailments as a result of the poor air inside the aging school.

AZ Rep coverage of his floor speech here; the actual floor statement starts on this page of the Congressional Record, and goes on to the next.

Yet again, he focuses on working for his constituents.

In short, the longtime teacher, Tempe city council member and mayor understands Politics 101, best summed up by the title of Tip O'Neill's book, "All Politics Is Local."

...On the other hand, we have 7-term incumbent Republican incumbent John Shadegg. He's defending his seat against a relative political newcomer in Bob Lord (he's not new to public service, but is new to elected office). He's in a district that has an even wider Republican registration advantage than CD5 and he's an experienced campaigner.

This should be a cakewalk for him, right?

It probably would be, except that he is failing Politics 101, and failing miserably.

- He fights against efforts to help America's (and the Third District's) veterans, whether in empty gestures of support, or in a pattern of outright opposition, usually rationalized with in the name of his "small or no government" ideology.

- When many of his constituents in Paradise Valley were dealing water taps that delivered poison instead of water, he ignored it in favor of campaigning for fellow Republican John McCain in South Carolina.

He couldn't even be bothered to send an intern to NIBW meetings or have a low-level staffer write a press release expressing his concern over the issue.

- He even opposed the Act (H.R. 3021) that Harry Mitchell spoke in support of on Wednesday, voting against modernizing public schools and educational facilities.

Even the invitations to his re-election fundraisers don't bother to tout the work that Shadegg has done for his constituents, because there isn't any such work to tout.

The invite for this Saturday's fundraiser with Sens. McCain and Kyl touts Shadegg's record as "one of the most principled and steady conservative leaders" in Congress.

In something of an ironic twist, Saturday's fundraiser is at a home in Paradise Valley. Wonder if the house is in the service area of Arizona American Water, operator of the treatment facility that caused all the furor in November and January?

Mitchell's record is one of concern for and advocacy on behalf of his constituents; Shadegg's record is that of someone who places the interests of his party and his large campaign contributors above the interests of his constituents.

Is it any wonder that Harry Mitchell is ahead of the leading Republican contenders in this April poll of head-to-head matchups, and that John Shadegg's support is in decline and free fall in this current poll?

Part of Shadegg's problem may be his experience, or lack of it - unlike Mitchell who had a long resume of public service prior to entering Congress, Shadegg's pre-Congress resume is primarily that of a professional Republican, not a professional public servant. The closest he came was as a special assistant attorney general during the 1980s under Republican AG Bob Corbin.

Not exactly a job that motivates the jobholder to worry about the concerns of the people he meets during the course of his duties. :))

Anyway, about the only good news from the poll for Shadegg was the fact that he is outpolling the President - Bush has a 30% favorable rating, and Shadegg has 31% support for his reelection.

On second thought, maybe that isn't such good news... :)

Note: If you are interested in seeing the actual invitation to Shadegg's fundraiser, leave a comment with your email addy; I'll be happy to forward it.


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