Dark Money Matters

Last night’s primary election results were a little unexpected, but certainly not shocking: It was a bad day for the good guys. I was “hopeful” for a better result, but not “optimistic” about it…and I’m a strong proponent of knowing the difference between hope and optimism.

I take some solace in the fact that Kathy Littlefield and Cindy Hill didn’t get eliminated from the Scottsdale City Council race. There will now be a six-way runoff for three seats in November’s general election, with bottom-finishers Bill Crawford and Michael Auerbach heading back to the barn. Perhaps Crawford’s anti-establishment votes will swing to Littlefield and Hill.

However, I would not have seen in my wildest imagination that more than 7000 Scottsdale citizens would have voted for last-place Auerbach. Given my cluelessness about why, I’m at a loss to see which candidates will get Auerbach’s voters in November.

Since Auerbach came up through the Tea Party, I guess the candidate or candidates perceived as most-conservative will get those votes. Which of course boils down to who among the posers raises the most money to propagate that pretense…because the campaign contributions never favor the REAL conservatives like Kathy Littlefield.

One surprise was the poor showing by one of the leading fundraisers: Nice-guy (but not necessarily “good guy”) Dennis Robbins. As an incumbent with virtually the same track record as top vote-getter Linda Milhaven (also an incumbent and easily the worst representative of the residents’ quality of life), the difference must come down to Milhaven’s multiple mailers and her more proliferous campaign signs.

I guess Mike Fernandez’s anti-Milhaven signs must have not been as effective as he’d hoped, or maybe even had a rebound effect via giving Milhaven more name recognition. Of course, Jim Derouin’s holier-than-thou complaint against Fernandez’s signs may have eroded their effectiveness, too.

At the same time, however, it could also be speculated that Milhaven might have won a seat outright without the negative campaign. But as I have oft speculated, I wonder if Fernandez and friends couldn’t have put their intelligence–and money–to work FOR the good guys, instead of AGAINST the bad guys.

Soon after preliminary results first became available last night, the topic of conversation turned to the dark-money mailers that targeted both Bob and Kathy Littlefield (and Cindy Hill) in the last few days before the primary. Given how clueless most of Scottsdale’s voters seem to be (as evidenced by 7000 votes for clueless Auerbach), it’s no wonder that easily-researchable false assertions of ties to unions and Obama would sway votes away from the good guys.

One difference between Fernandez’s efforts and the true dark money campaign against Kathy and Bob Littlefield is obvious: We don’t know who paid for the latter. This allows pretenders like Jennifer Petersen to (with the help of gullible reporters) get fluffy sound bite quotes printed like the one in this morning’s Scottsdale Republic:

Petersen denounced the negative attacks.
“In my mind, it’s only important to me to talk about what I can do, what I can accomplish,” she said. “I’m not looking to tear someone else down to bring myself up.”

This is a very clever way of distancing herself from the hit pieces without actually repudiating them. If she was really an honest person, she would directly denounce them and reject the blatant falsehoods. But then, that’s not how dishonest people win elections.

I note too that the Scottsdale Republic didn’t give any coverage to the dark money hit piece against Bob, which even the Washington Post covered a week ago!

So, I’m going to try to do as little thinking about this as possible for the rest of the day. Then maybe tomorrow I can put some effort into figuring out how to get better results in November, not only for Scottsdale City Council, but also for the Scottsdale Unified School District board, the school budget override, and maybe…just maybe…some of the higher offices, too. If not, we are going to have to dig some serious trenches in order to hold the line until 2016.

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  1. Well last night LD23 changes were not the ones that everyone was expecting. The more extreme Right was one cue and took the stage, sadly. I find out from the Scottsdale Republic that Old Town Scottsdale is trying to be renamed ‘SoDo’, which turns my stomach. We have this run off election, and Petersen, well she said not much in the way of being more nice and not so dark.

    So my slice of Scottsdale is still up in the air, I get to vote again for ‘SoDo’/Old Town/whatever I live in is called now. I hear what John is saying about SUSD and the override. Guess what – look who is running there for the school board? Have you looked at their partisan views in a supposed non-partisan race? Yeah. Not so nice a view. Does the Right vote along the lines of the potential board members or for what they stand for OR do they even care?

    Override for the school district? Hmm, the lawsuit for the schools was ‘won’, but the Legislature is punting it to the ‘new’ team. The state has no money, save the rainy day fund. That can give you ONE year at best. Can we say TAXES? Yeah, can the school district float the override with the Legislature threatening more taxes, when the override itself is a tax? Not to mention the City raised taxes and the community colleges just raised its tax. By the way – the City raised its taxes because of all the darn lawsuits from the marvelous BAR DISTRICT – Think about that voters!

    Hey, why is it that everyone thinks my slice of Scottsdale needs all these darn apartments/condos/etc? Oh wait, those people want to be close to the bars right? Because NONE of the articles say they moved here for the schools. Hmm, has anyone told the Scottsdale school district this news?

  2. I was disappointed with the results. I didn’t think “light rail” Milhaven would do so well. Hopefully when the higher vote counts come in November we’ll have better results,

  3. Mr. McAllister – “light rail” Milhaven has the money from the Dark side and she has the unfortunate support from geography. You see like the roads, light rail needs to be connected to really work. So if Phoenix is going to TRIPLE its investment in light rail, what is standing in its way? Yeah, Scottsdale is.

    How long do you think it will be before Tempe and Mesa are coming to see Scottsdale (with Phoenix at their side) to say – Hey you know, if you have light rail too, we all can be this big happy family. Our cities can exchange people and commerce. We all benefit. –

    As for our city vote, look at the unofficial results, it was very close. So we still have hope to get at least one sane person this November. We really need TWO people who carry our voice. This dark money is a smelly stain that is hurting us all. I still have hope. Now that we are down to six, we need our two voices to be elected, or we will lose Scottsdale. I have seen it happen before to other cities, I don’t want it to happen here.

    1. Mr. Richard makes a good point, the city vote is very close. Kathy and Cindy can be elected IF people are willing to work to help their campaigns. They both need lots of volunteers; if you have some time to make phone calls, etc. give them a call!

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