Friday, May 11, 2012

The Arizona Capitol Times is definitely not a sports newspaper - they don't know the difference between hardball and beanball

In a baseball game when a pitcher knows that the batter is going to lean out over the plate and try to lay down a bunt, and the pitcher delivers his first pitch high and tight to back the batter off of the plate.

It doesn't exactly endear the pitcher to the batter, but so long as there is no attempt or intent to cause physical harm, it's considered to be just "hardball."

There might a few hard looks exchanged, and some chirping from the benches, but not much more (ok, usually not much more :) )

Compare that to a pitcher deliberately throwing a fastball at a batter's ear, putting the batter's career, health, and even life at risk.

That's an open invitation for things like retaliatory bean balls, spikes-high slides on the basepaths, and, of course, bench-clearing brawls.

This week, the Arizona Capitol Times published a story, written by Jeremy Duda, taking the position that the Democratic primary in CD9 has quickly become the nastiest in the state this cycle (subscription required).

There have been condemnations of some apparently race-baiting mailers in a previous election, allegations that the other candidates are engaged in dirty politics, duelling calls for a clean, issues-oriented campaign, and more.

And while the race has gotten more colorful and more quickly than I (and many others) would have predicted, most of it seems to within the realm of "hardball", but nothing more.

The candidates and their campaign staffs may be thinking bad thoughts about each other, but sooner or later (probably sooner), they'll settle down to an issues-oriented campaign discourse.

And if any of them are, ummm, "recalcitrant", about that?  The voters will set them straight, because they are both the paying fans and the umpires in this game.

On the other hand, what is taking place in the Tempe mayor's race is more like one-sided beanball..  It's not about "clean" or "hardball"; it's about personally destroying the opponent by any means possible.

A week before the election, the Monti campaign, aided and abetted by Jason Rose, have gone into "beanball" territory by loosing an allegation that Mark Mitchell, a member of the Tempe City Council and the other candidate on the ballot, sexually assaulted a girl almost 30 years ago.

To his credit, Mitchell has denounced the allegations while not engaging in similar tactics, as seen in this video from Thursday night's candidate open mic session in the Tempe City Council chambers.

Also as seen in an email from Mitchell -

Angry doesn’t begin to describe how I feel this morning. Disappointed doesn’t do it justice. But one word does seem to fit my mood.

I am determined not to let the people hell-bent on stealing the Tempe Mayor’s election get their way. I am determined not to let their lies take root, determined not to let the most vile political smears imaginable hand my opponents the leadership of our City.

By now, you’ve seen or heard the garbage they’re spreading. Let me be perfectly clear:

I've done nothing wrong, not now and not 30 years ago, when I was 12 years old.

For 30 years, there has never been a complaint against me, never been a police investigation into these false claims, never even been a smear suggesting something like this, until now, on the eve of the mayoral election.

This is politics at its worst. The kind of politics I’m determined to defeat. To do that, however, I need your help. I need your phone calls. I need your shoe leather and word of mouth. I need you to spread the word – that a vote for Mark Mitchell is a vote against lies, false attacks and politics taken to a disgusting new low.

If you have a ballot sitting in your mail pile, please grab it and vote. Circle Tuesday, Election Day, on your calendar and go vote. If you have voted, thank you. Now, please, convince one of your friends to go to the polls and support our campaign.

I’ve worked hard to keep contest for Mayor on the issues we care about, like creating jobs and making neighborhoods safer, just as I’ve worked hard to be a leader who makes Tempe proud. I’m determined to keep fighting for you, to keep doing what it takes to make Tempe special. But right now, I’m even more determined to do one thing.

Win a race that has me pitted against people who will do absolutely anything, including lie and smear, to win.

Thank you for your support. And thank you for standing with me. Just like every vote will count in this race, your kind words to me and to my family have meant the world.


As disgusting as Monti's tactics have been (and to be clear, this may be the worst, but it isn't the first, of Monti's forays to the darkest side of politics), this kind of move often is more damaging to the candidate doing it, not the intended victim.

As of right now, the primary effect has been to motivate the Arizona Republic to endorse Mitchell in Tuesday's election; we'll see on Tuesday what the voters, the ultimate arbiters of this conflict, think of Monti and his tactics.

More AZ Republic opinion on this matter here.  Credit where credit is due time:  the Republic is usually on the wrong side on most political matters, but they've set the right tone on this subject.

Mark Mitchell in late April, before the latest bit of sleaze from the Monti campaign

A couple of quick thoughts:

- This ugliness may be a preview of Scottsdale's campaign season.  The aforementioned Jason Rose has a history of "consulting" candidates into engaging in some pretty sleazy tactics, and he is helping Jim Lane run for reelection as mayor.  Scottsdale voters are going to need goggles and hip waders because the mud will be flying and the s**t will get deep here before it's all over.

- During the same open mic session in the Tempe City Council chambers, Monti also spoke.  I can't read his mind (or his heart), but Monti may have given voters a clue as to where his true loyalties lie - in his last campaign speech to a wide audience, he made sure to work in a plug for his restaurant.

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