Fryer for Arizona Blog

We Are Rising: Post-Election Reflection from a Supporter

From Deb Maher:

“Last night, I left the campaign party with deep sadness and anger after Kelly’s loss. I was sad because there is an urgent call for fearless leadership, kindness, big heartedness, the ability to really hear people and help them see their own self-worth so they can act on their own behalf.

Supporters wore these to our primary election night party, saying, “This is the only way for a woman to get recognition in the gubernatorial Democratic primary in Arizona… Wear a mustache!”

This is not over

I was angry that she was marginalized by the media and the Democratic party. They portrayed her as “not a viable” candidate when in fact her campaign gathered twice the number of signatures necessary to get on the ballot. She was consistently left out of articles while the focus was given to the two men in the race. The outcome; only 386,954 Democrats turned out to vote in the entire state! This is a travesty and speaks to the alienation of our citizens. Nevertheless, Kelly received 17% of those votes, was a viable candidate and deserved the same amount of coverage as the other two candidates.

This morning Kelly issued a call to action to support David Garcia and graciously thanked all her volunteers but most importantly, she reiterated that this is not over.

We are rising

Kelly is right, “the mold has been broken”, we are rising, and we are mentoring new inspired leaders! The spark of this campaign has ignited revived engagement and we are not going away. We will not be bullied by corporate greed and we will continue to be engaged in saving our schools, finding ways save the natural environment while supporting the economy, creating humane border and immigration policies, and building an even stronger sense of community to overcome racism and disenfranchisement.

Most importantly, we as individuals, will not be overwhelmed. We will join with others and together we will find joy in the struggle. The human spirit is so much more that political systems or money or the media. This spirit, this energy is stirring all over the world and it is beyond what we can see in the headlines. It surfaced in this campaign and it re-affirms our humanity. It cannot be stopped and if you pause and look closely, you will see that kindness and generosity takes many different forms. We will continue to meet each other every day and we will find each other and re-group and morph as the times and situations require. We are here, and we are not going away.

I am full of gratitude for the people I met in Kelly’s campaign and grateful that she demonstrated such generosity, leadership and inspiration.”

This is epic

This is an historic year in Arizona.*

 

  • We have more women running for office than we’ve ever had.
  • We have more people of color running than we’ve ever had.
  • We have a differently abled candidate, maybe for the first time.
  • We have more openly LGBTQ candidates than ever and two transgender candidates, definitely for the first time.
  • We have a Muslim running for a statewide office, definitely for the first time.
  • We have more Democratic candidates, period, running than we’ve ever had.
  • We have more contested primaries than we’ve ever had at every level – this is the first time we’ve had a contested Democratic primary for governor since 2002.
  • We have more diversity in our candidates, in both personal characteristics and policy positions, than we’ve ever had.
  • We have more first-time campaign staff and volunteers than ever, and a whole list of candidates whose daughters are in key positions and even leading their campaigns.
  • We have grassroots Democratic leaders calling foul about the state party’s attempts to “pick the winner” in certain races, and even resisting state party operations inside of their LD offices.

Arizona politics and our public square will never be the same – and that is a very good thing.

Democrats, from now on, will expect to have choices, expect to be engaged, expect to have our voices honored and heard.

It is frustrating to watch as the establishment – including the mainstream media in Arizona – fails to tell or even grasp what an epic year this is, as they continue to use old metrics and models to understand and analyze this election.

No, really, guys. Money isn’t everything.

While the media and the establishment continues to judge the “viability” of a campaign based on how much money is raised, most of us think that the amount of money that gets spent on political campaigns is outrageous. It prohibits regular folks from running. It creates a dangerous and undemocratic relationship between donors and candidates.

And, well, it’s just a stupid use of money, which could be going to do actual good in our communities.

via GIPHY

Voters are ready for new faces, new ideas, new ways of doing “politics.”

I predict we will see real and SURPRISING change at the ballot box tomorrow. That’s why my campaign is getting ready for a celebration and then to take the fight to Doug Ducey in the general election.

But trust me. One way or another, this isn’t over.

We are just getting started.

 

(*The list of epic things happening this election cycle was inspired by a FB post by Deedra Abboud, candidate for U.S. Senate)

 

 

 

This is how we end up with children in cages

This is an interesting glimpse into what’s going on in Arizona and in our nation these days. In a summary of the most contested elections this month, the Arizona Republic described me as:

A “take-no-prisoners leftist”

They got this part right: Nobody will fight harder for the people of our state.

I kind of like the “take no prisoners” description. They know I’m fierce and will stand up for the people I love, the communities I care about and my values.

But a “leftist?” Hmmm.

I think the Arizona Republic is right. A lot of folks probably do think of my platform and this campaign as “leftist.”

But don’t you wonder?

When did a commitment to human rights, compassion, freedom, justice, dignity and opportunity for all become “leftist” – and not just “American” – values?

American values are now left of center?

The values I’m running on are pretty similar to the mission of YWCA, the organization I’ve been working for these past few years.  YWCA has a long history of service to country, including in times of war. We were one of six agencies that joined together to launch the U.S.O. during WWI.

Today we say our mission this way: Ending racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. I often say that I’m running for governor to bring these values to our state government.

But, these days, patriotism is the shield behind which nationalists, white supremacists, greedy corporate capitalists and U.S.-based global oligarchs do their nasty business.

So patriots who take a knee, march for human rights and call on our nation to live up to our highest values – freedom and justice for all – are marginalized. We are no longer in the center. We are now left of center.

This is what a moral crisis looks like

When I say that we’re in a MORAL crisis – not just a political crisis – this is what I’m talking about.

We have drifted so far away from our fundamental values, we can’t even see the shore, anymore.

And THIS, my friends, is how we end up with children in cages.

Vote your values this year.

Vote. Vote. Vote.

What the abortion debate is really about

“Are you pro-choice or pro-life?”

I got asked that question by a voter again the other night.

You probably won’t be surprised to hear me say:

I reject this line of questioning.

via GIPHY

The abortion debate is not about “babies”

I love babies. I’ve had two of my own. I’ve cuddled my grand-baby. Hand me a baby and I get all melty and start making goofy noises and funny faces.

Babies are bouncing little balls of joy, even when they are stinky and have strained peas dribbling down their chins. Babies are alive, lively, lovely little human beings.

Babies have been BORN.

Babies need safe housing, good healthcare, healthy food to eat, clean water and air, good public education from cradle to career, quality childcare and economic opportunity for their caregivers.

When they grow up, these babies still need all those things PLUS they need accurate information about their own bodies, including WHERE BABIES COME FROM, and how to control if and when to have babies of their own.

In other words, BABIES need all the things that most “pro-life” politicians are doing their best to make sure they never have.

The real agenda

So, you see, the abortion conversation isn’t really about BABIES.

Abortion is a medical procedure that allows doctors – for a variety of reasons – to remove the cells that are forming inside a uterus before those cells become babies.

The political “debate” over the medical procedure called abortion is not about babies. It is a cover for the real agenda, which is controlling the bodies of women.

Now, I know there are some folks out there who disagree with the scientific and the medical community and who, for religious reasons, really believe that abortion is ending the life of a human. As a theologian who knows her Bible inside-and-out and who has studied church history, it’s my view that anti-scientific views on abortion have been manufactured by patriarchal religious leaders who think sex is bad, and that women are the source of all evil and must be controlled. Nevertheless, I respect your right to have that opinion and, if you really believe it then, by all means, don’t have an abortion.

As the governor of Arizona, however, I can’t let you impose your religious views on everybody else. That’s one of the most American values there is. (Here’s my policy on the separation of religion and state.)

So, am I pro-choice or pro-life? I am pro-human.

As governor, I will do everything in my power to protect and defend the rights of all the human beings in our state.

For the sake of this discussion, that begins with the right to have comprehensive reproduction education and health care, including the right to end a pregnancy.

Nothing is more basic or more essential to freedom than the right to make decisions about my own body.

That’s a value most Arizonans share.

“Pro-life” politicians want to control women’s bodies. Let’s stop letting them control the narrative, too.

 

My plan for public education

My plan for education has been published on my website since the beginning of my campaign. It includes a plan for funding that looks a lot like the Invest in Ed ballot initiative, which I support 100%, as well as additional proposals. It also includes my opposition to Prop 305 and to any tax credits/vouchers that support private schools; and my commitment to making charter schools “transparent, accountable and rare.”

As governor, I will take swift and assertive action towards these goals.

This is how I’ll do it

In my first 100 days, I will sign an Executive Order to protect parents and children, support teachers, and begin rebuilding our public school system in all 15 counties. This Executive Order will include directives to:

  1. Revise the funding formula for district schools to create equity and to ensure that schools in distress and in low-income communities receive appropriate and adequate support;
  2. Require the Arizona Department of Education to release additional funding to district schools, which are required to absorb new students after the closure of a charter school outside of the 100 day attendance standard;
  3. Require that all charter schools must meet the same environmental standards of public schools, including testing for lead in the water;
  4. Establish criteria for charter schools by Jan 1, 2020, evaluate each charter school in the state by Jan 1, 2021, and WITHDRAW THE CHARTER from any school that does not meet the standard after a 12-month grace period.

This last bullet describes a thoughtful, inclusive, collaborative 3-year plan to make sure our tax dollars are only supporting those charter schools that are meeting the needs of students, whose needs cannot be met by the local public school…yet.

I predict that shady charter school operators, whose only interest is making money off of our kids, will begin closing up shop and leaving the state as soon as we start holding them accountable. That’s exactly my intention.

These are the things I can do immediately, as governor. I will work through the budget process, in the legislature and with education experts and activists to create further change in support of rebuilding our public school system.

I am not neutral in the “school choice” debate

The “school choice” movement is a scheme by people like Betsy DeVos, Doug Ducey and the Koch brothers to privatize and profit off of education in Arizona.

Any politician who refuses to say that is no friend of public education.

First, “school choice” activists defunded and systematically dismantled our public school system. Then, they created laws that made it possible for charter school operators to sweep in and set up shop with no oversight. Desperate parents, who grew frustrated with what was happening in their local district schools, pulled out and put their children in these new charter schools. Now, many of these parents are starting to see that the charter schools they put their faith in are only interested in one thing: Making money off the kids, not giving them the best education.

Here’s just a sample of recent articles exposing the school choice scam:

A word to parents

I know parents in Arizona are frustrated. As a mom, I would do almost anything to make sure my kids have every opportunity to succeed. For many of you, a private or charter school seemed like your only option. Now the truth is coming out.

Continuing down the path of privatizing our educational system is not the answer.

My goal is to make the best school for every kid, in every neighborhood in Arizona, their local district public school. And, yes! I’m talking about LGBTQ kids, kids with special needs, gifted kids, athletic kids, kids who want to be artists or scientists or change makers. There is no reason every public school in our state can’t be the best with the right investment of resources, attention and support.

Unlike the charter schools that have skipped town in the middle of the night, leaving parents high and dry, I will make sure any changes we make will be made thoughtfully, collaboratively and with the best interest of every child in mind.

It’s going to take time to undo the educational disaster created by decades of bad laws and scam schools.

I’m willing to take it on and I have a plan to get started on day one.

Elections aren’t meant to be “nice”

I woke up to texts, tweets and Facebook messages about the new book by David Garcia called “School Choice,” which will be published in September (conveniently just days AFTER the Democratic primary election).

His supporters are calling on me to be nice, by which they mean, I’m not supposed to challenge their candidate on the issues.

This is what Democracy looks like

His supporters don’t want me to challenge their candidate on his very clear and public statement that he doesn’t support ending the death penalty (“…he walked it back,” they say, “as soon as the debate was over!”). They also don’t want me to point out that he has also walked back his call to abolish ICE and now says that abolishing ICE is a “narrative that we need to reject” and that the most important “value” we have to defend on our border is “security” (watch this video of a recent debate – his statement is at 1:06 on the video) not the human rights of the vulnerable people begging for our help.

And they don’t want me to point out his support for charter schools.

Well, ok, I won’t. I’ll leave that up to the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and the Arizona Republic, which endorsed him in 2014, in part because of his support for “school choice” – he was actually serving on the board of a charter school until Nov 2017 – and they endorsed him again this year, in this race.

For the record, I have a plan to make charter schools transparent, accountable and RARE. My vision is a state where the best school for every kid, in every neighborhood, is the local district public school. (Read the plan I have for Education in my first 100 days here.)

Photo by Brian Munoz/The Republic (Read the article at https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/politics/elections/2018/07/31/arizona-democratic-candidates-governor-debate-steve-farley-kelly-fryer-david-garcia/872254002/)

It’s been a LONG time since Democrats had contested primaries in this state, so I don’t blame anyone for forgetting that primaries are the place where candidates are supposed to battle it out. I’ve addressed this before. Voters have a right to know what we really think and how we’re different. Primaries produce better and tougher candidates, candidates that are more prepared for the general.

Let me be clear: It isn’t unfair or mean to point out where candidates differ on the issues. That’s actually what an election is for.

How “nice” do you think Doug Ducey and the Koch brothers are going to be?

So…why should I support your mom?

Kelly & Emma

A message from Kelly’s Daughter/Campaign Manager:

I recently received an email from someone who basically asked: why should I support Kelly if she’s in last place in the polls?

[By the way, I had to train myself to call my mom ‘Kelly’ for the campaign!]

His question about the polls is fair, and I’m glad he asked, because after spending some time writing a response, I’m more convinced than ever that my mom is going to win this election. Here’s what I said.

***

Dear xxx,

Your question about polls is a good one. So far, there has been one independent poll in this race – the rest have been paid for by another candidate (and some have not even included Kelly as an option). Here’s what the independent poll shows:

  • 48% of voters are undecided – even though they’ve had two options for over a year now, who have spent over $1 million combined
  • Kelly is right on the heels of the candidate who has raised the most money and has been in politics the longest
  • David does not poll above 34% in ANY polls, even those that are paid for

 

I learn two things from that:

  1. This race is wide open. Almost half of the voters haven’t been sold on either of Kelly’s opponents despite the time and money spent.
  2. Kelly is building momentum VERY quickly. She entered the race almost a year after the other guys (at the beginning of this year), so the fact that she’s already catching up in the polls says a lot.

 

Kelly has quickly built name recognition and excitement by traveling over 27,000 miles to all 15 counties since February 1, and through a strong digital and social media program (if you compare the 3 candidates’ Facebook pages, you’ll see Kelly has more engagement by far – and again, starting from scratch early this year vs. the guys who have had their pages and audiences for multiple years). She has electrified voters, and her speech at a recent Dem convention will show you why.

 

Kelly has accomplished all of this even as some of the traditional media has excluded her. (Read and watch). She has, however, received some national attention, including being listed as one of Cosmo’s 16 LGBTQ candidates to watch this year. Kelly has also attracted the attention of the Republicans – the Republican Governor’s Association released a TV attack ad on her this month. They would not be spending up to $1 million attacking her if she didn’t think she’d be a serious threat to Doug Ducey.

 

Again, I appreciate your question – it’s a good one. Here’s what sets Kelly apart in this race, and why I hope you’ll consider supporting her from afar:

  1. She’s our best bet to beat Doug Ducey and the Koch brothers – and to actually make real change happen in Arizona. She can go head-to-head with Ducey as they are both CEOs; however, her work as a CEO has been in community, for PEOPLE. Ducey has been a CEO for his own profit. Kelly has 29 years of senior leadership and CEO experience, and a proven track record of turning around struggling organizations.

 

  1. She’s 100% in it for the people, not politics. She isn’t playing [typo! Leaving it in for the sake of transparency 😊] running a traditional campaign with the old playbook – she’s talking about ALL the issues, not just the “safe” ones. She’s committed to transparency – we’ve posted 70 videos since January 1, live stream most of her appearances, and she has the most detailed policy proposals on the most issues of anyone in her race: fryerforarizona.com/issues.

 

Thanks again for taking the time to write, and I hope you will consider supporting her candidacy. We got started late and have prioritized meeting voters over raising money, so we need all the help we can get. We’d be truly grateful to have your support.

 

All the best,

Emma

 

Arizona for everyone means…everyone

Today I spent time talking with families at a back-to-school event on Tucson’s Southside. About 90% of the folks I talked with are Latino, many are immigrants. Almost all are registered to vote. They are parents and grandparents. They love our community. They were excited and interested to talk with someone running for office, especially governor. They wanted to take pictures of me with their kids. I loved every minute.

Here are the top 5 things these families wanted to talk about:

  1. Education – it was a back to school event and this was the #1 issue on their minds. The kids know who Doug Ducey is because of Red for Ed and they know he doesn’t care about them or their schools. They want a new governor.
  2. The economy – They keep hearing that “the economy is getting better,” but they don’t feel it or see it in their own lives. I didn’t meet many Republicans but, the ones I did meet, agreed that their lives aren’t any better, either…no matter how many times they hear people on TV talk about “the GDP.” Everyone is starting to see that the only people benefitting are the bigwigs. People want better pay, more job security and they don’t want to have to work 3 jobs just to get by.
  3. Contaminated water – I heard stories of whole neighborhoods where people all up and down the block have cancer, tumors, kids with leukemia. The stories about contaminated water on the southside go back decades. People don’t feel heard or seen, and they don’t feel like their concerns are being taken seriously. I’m taking them seriously because I know that environmental injustice is a reality – and that it disproportionately impacts communities of color.
  4. Private prisons – They know that their neighbors, family and friends are being jailed at a disproportionate rate – and they know it’s because somebody is making money on it. They want it to stop.
  5. Immigration – They want families to be kept together. They want to live in a nation they can be proud of, not one that cages children. But more than anything they want to feel safe in their own homes and communities, not afraid of our government. Mind you, these are registered voters I’m talking about – Americans. The way our federal government has militarized this community has made us all feel less safe, not more.

We talked about a lot of problems but, in the end, this day was full of hope.

I met a young boy, whose father recently died, and his mom. They were surprised to learn that I am running for governor…and gay. The conversation this young widow had with her son made me feel so hopeful. I think you’ll feel the same way. Listen:

I love the people of our state so much.

I promise I’ll do everything in my power to address the concerns you have…and make Arizona work for all of us.

When you can’t beat ’em…just spread rumors

It’s been a good week for media, finally! Yesterday, I was interviewed by The Young Turks, the largest online news show in the world (woot) – I’ll link to the podcast as soon as it’s available.

Also, Tucson blogger Larry Bodine is doing a story about my campaign. I would love to be answering questions from him about my platform but, hey, gossip!

The whisper campaign

I’ve been hearing whispers that some of my opponents’ supporters are spreading rumors and innuendos. The ones Larry lists below are just the start. I’ve also heard that links to my oped articles are being circulated to Democratic donors and Party leaders with this message: “She can’t get elected…she wrote articles about white supremacy!”

That one is true, by the way. You can see all of my articles right here on my website. I do think it problematic that some folks are raising concerns about a candidate who opposes racism, but that’s a topic for another day.

An excuse to show family photos

Then, there’s this one: “Did you know she’s GAY?!” Lol. I beat them to the punch on that one. Here’s my life story, right on my website. And here are a couple photos from our family shoot. This one is actually on the back of my campaign flyer – the one that 100,000 people are going to get delivered to their front door.

And this is one of my wife, Tana, and me goofing around with our granddaughter. She’s 3 and she is very funny.

Are you getting the picture? I’m trying to be as transparent as I can possibly be on this campaign. I think voters deserve that. So, as long as I’m at it, I thought I’d share my answers to Larry’s questions with you.

My responses to the gossip Larry heard


From: Larry Bodine
Date: July 26, 2018 at 9:30:46 PM MST
To: kellyfryer1416@gmail.com
Subject: Fwd: Article for Blog for Arizona

Kelly,

Since your talk at the LD9 Democrats yesterday night, I have learned of several issues concerning your past. In preparation for the article I am writing for the Blog for Arizona, I am hoping that you can confirm or deny them.

  1. I understand that you were fired from the Arizona List. Is this correct?

MY RESPONSE:

No.

I left Arizona List to accept a position as Executive Director (and then CEO) of YWCA Southern Arizona.  After helping Arizona List grow its membership base by 44% in one year and elect 39 women to office, I was excited by the challenges and opportunities offered at the YWCA. This is the congratulatory email I received from the board chair after I submitted my resignation:

 

If you are interested in more information about my time at Arizona List, please contact former Arizona List board member and philanthropist, Barbara Farmilant, whose endorsement of my campaign is based in part on my accomplishments there. Ms. Farmilant’s full endorsement can also be found on my website. 

  1. Is it true that you registered to vote in Arizona in Summer 2016 in Bisbee, and that you registered as an independent?

MY RESPONSE:

I registered as an Independent and not as a Democrat for the first time in my life, after buying my home in Bisbee in spring 2017. I think I heard my union organizing grandfather turn over in his grave. I come from generations of Democrats but I was deeply frustrated – as many Democrats have been and still are – with the disastrous Nov 2016 election and the way in which young voters, people of color and progressive voters have been sidelined by status quo Party leaders. I changed my registration back to D after a few months and made the decision to fight for what this Party stands for and what I believe in. That is what I’m doing now.

  1. Janet Marcotte, Executive Director, YWCA Tucson 1987-2012, states at https://tucson.com/opinion/letters/politics-local/letter-kelly-fryer-takes-too-much-credit/article_b31e520a-8ed6-11e8-8277-f3c0905957e3.html that the YWCA was not in bad financial condition when you stepped in as Executive Director/CEO and that it was not a turnaround situation. How do you respond to this?

MY RESPONSE:

I do not wish to tarnish my predecessor’s legacy in any way, however, her letter to the editor does not reflect reality. This can be confirmed by reviewing the organization’s financial statements, which are available for public review. Current and former staff, board members and volunteers, will also confirm that the YWCA was in an extremely challenging financial position when they hired me.

Cheryl House, who was a member of the YWCA board of directors from 2002-2017, has said:

“When our long-time executive director retired, we really didn’t know if the organization would survive. Then we met Kelly Fryer. We interviewed several accomplished nonprofit leaders but Kelly was the only one who brought new ideas about how we could generate revenue, pay off debt and get back on solid financial ground.

 “Looking back, I know that if we had not hired Kelly, we would have kept following the same fundraising formula, and the YWCA would likely be out of business.”

 You can read Ms. House’s full statement here.

Greg Hart, who was a member of the board from 2008-2017, submitted a letter to the editor in response to Ms. Marcotte’s letter. This is his full statement:

“Regarding the July 26th letter to the editor: ‘Kelly Fryer Takes Too Much Credit.’ I was on the Board of Directors at the YWCA of Southern Arizona from 2008 until 2017, serving for approximately four and a half years while Kelly Fryer was the YWCA CEO (2013-2017) and approximately four and a half years prior to that with her predecessor.  Based on my experience and intimate knowledge of the what has happened at the YWCA over the last few years, Kelly Fryer does not take too much credit for the current strength and effectiveness of this vital organization, she does not take enough.”

  1. The YWCA lists you as CEO (Sabbatical Leave). Are you still drawing your salary from the YWCA?

MY RESPONSE:

I am taking an earned, paid sabbatical leave, which is available to all YWCA employees, per board policy. For further questions, please contact YWCA Board Chair, Patricia Mars, who can be reached through the YWCA office.    

  1. If this is the case, does this mean that the YWCA, a 501c3 organization, is making a political contribution?

MY RESPONSE:

No.

The YWCA board consulted with their attorneys and worked with me to set up a firewall, ensuring strict compliance with election laws. And Larry – I really hope folks out there aren’t trying to harm a non-profit that is doing incredible work for some of the neediest in our community.

Please feel free to call me in my office at xxx-xxx-xxxx or on my cell at xxx-xxx-xxxx.

Larry Bodine
Tucson, AZ


Hey, Larry, let me know if you need more info

I’m running on my resume, as well as my ideas and vision for Arizona. So your questions are valid and I want everyone to hear my answers directly from me.

I’m assuming that you have all the info you need about my platform and what I plan to do as governor, since that’s all on my website. I hope you plan to cover these things in your article.

Let me know if you’d also like to talk with me about what I’ve learned after traveling 27,000+ miles and meeting thousands of people in less than 6 months, how this campaign has made its way into the national discussion and has become a target of outside Republican attacks, and how I’m polling neck-and-neck with the guy who has raised the most money and has been in politics the longest. I’ve done it all in just 6 months, spending 1/10th of what my opponents have spent so far. I think there’s a story in there, somewhere.

While we’re at it, here’s another story idea! I bet voters would like to hear about how I grew Arizona List and then turned around the YWCA to drive immense growth and built such a powerful, diverse leadership team – and how that same sort of leadership makes economic and ethical sense for our state government.

Just a thought.

A matter of life and death

On Saturday, at the governor’s forum, I said I hate politics. One reason I gave was this: Progressive organizations that endorse candidates that don’t share progressive values.

Here is a case in point. At a public forum Saturday, all three Democratic candidates for governor were asked a simple question and asked to give a “yes” or “no” answer.

Do you favor abolition of Arizona’s death penalty?

We were asked the question twice, for clarity.

Each time I said, “Yes.” Steve Farley also said yes.

David Garcia said, “No.”

This video has been clipped for brevity, but you can see the entire forum here – the “lightning round” questions begin at 46:00 on the video – in order to see that this clip hasn’t been taken out of context.

Why is it hard to connect these dots?

I’ve been calling for an immigration system based on a human rights framework for years and, immediately after the Trump administration started taking children away from their parents and putting them in cages, I called for an end to ICE. After all the celebrity progressive candidates did the same thing, David finally made a similar statement.

Here’s what I’m wondering: If you don’t trust the way the state is managing the lives of innocent migrants and refugees, why would you trust the state to decide who dies? 

David is already walking back his “no” answer, according to statements I’ve seen from his supporters and campaign staff on social media today. Of course he is. He’s been endorsed by organizations that are working to abolish the death penalty. (Maybe this question should have been part of the application process?)

But, you know what? I call bs.

No one who has spent even a minute working in community would hesitate to condemn the death penalty. This is, literally, a matter of life and death.

Even Steve, who supported the the “blue lives matter” bill, which Democrat Senator Martin Quezada called nothing more than a “pointed response to the Black Lives Matter movement,” gets it.

The death penalty is barbaric and unfair

The death penalty is a violation of the constitutional ban against cruel and unusual punishment, it is uncivilized in theory, and it is unfair and inequitable in practice. Let me count the ways:

  1. Racism: Our criminal justice system is shot through with unconscious bias and structural racism. I’ve gone on record about this in the past, led an organization that has been a critical part of the conversation and addressed it in my policy proposals. People of color and those who cannot afford expensive representation are more likely than whites and people of means to receive this sentence. In Arizona there are currently 117 people on death row and 15% of them are African American, even though African Americans make up just 5% of Arizona’s population.  (Chart is from https://deathpenaltyinfo.org/death-penalty-black-and-white-who-lives-who-dies-who-decides)
  2. Mistakes: An execution is a sentence that cannot be reversed – and there have been too many people killed by the state who were later found to be innocent. According to the ACLU, since 1973, over 156 people have been released from death rows in 26 states because of innocence.  Nationally, at least one person is exonerated for every 10 that are executed.
  3. Ineffective: There is zero evidence that the death penalty deters crime.
  4. Immoral: Policies that support state-sponsored killings do not show support to victims and their families. In fact, many victims’ families are standing with those who oppose the death penalty because these policies actually serve to devalue – not honor – human life.
  5. Expensive: Keeping people on death row – where the average stay in Arizona is 19 years – is far more expensive than sentencing them to life in prison.

The death penalty has been under deep scrutiny in Arizona since a widely-covered, horrifyingly botched execution of Joseph Wood in 2014. But we’re late to the conversation. A total of 38 states have abolished the death penalty (19), have a moratorium stopping them (3) or haven’t actually executed anyone for at least the past five years (16).

There is no rational reason for supporting policies that allow the state to murder people. There is every reason to oppose it.

The governor’s role in death penalty cases

In Arizona, the governor’s power to grant reprieves, commutation, and pardons is limited by state statute. There is a board charged with hearing all requests. The governor can refuse to approve a recommendation from the Board, but she cannot stop an execution without this Board’s recommendation.

The Arizona Board of Executive Clemency has never recommended stopping an execution.

The thing is, the governor appoints the Board members.

I can tell you who I’ll be appointing to the Board of Executive Clemency: Individuals who are committed to human rights and opposed to the death penalty.

And I’ll work hard – probably with many of the organizations that endorsed David Garcia – to get a constitutional amendment passed that abolishes the death penalty in Arizona.

Read my policies on criminal justice reform and racial justice.

These aren’t just “issues” and candidates for governor can’t afford not to know this stuff. People’s lives are at stake.

This matters.

P.S. To those of you who may be feeling squeamish right now

I’ve had some Democrats tell me you don’t like when I challenge my opponents on the issues. I have a couple of things to say to that:

  1. In yesterday’s forum Steve made fun of David’s bus and I think he actually compared me to Trump, but I don’t hear complaints about them. Boys will be boys, right? I smell sexism in the water, people.
  2. The establishment media has decided that my views aren’t important enough to include, so I have to use other means to get information out there – like this blog.
  3. I know it’s been a LONG time since we had contested primaries in this state, so I don’t blame you for forgetting. But this is what a primary is for! Primaries are the place we are supposed to battle it out. Voters have a right to know what we really think and how we’re different. Primaries produce better and tougher candidates, candidates that are more prepared for the general. How “nice” do you think Doug Ducey and the Koch brothers are going to be?

Toughen up, friends. Things are just heating up.