The Aug. 28 primary election will be here before you know it. With the help of a hard-working crew of unpaid interns, the Weekly is bringing you a few fun facts and recaps of memorable moments from this summer’s campaign season.
1. Voting is Important
Sure, it’s easy to skip the Aug. 28 primary and decide you’ll just vote in the general election—but many districts in the state lean so heavily toward Democrats or Republicans that the real fight is in the primary. We know it’s a lot of homework to study up on these candidates, but there is a lot of information about the candidates out there, whether it’s their own websites, news organizations like the Tucson Weekly, the Explorer, the Arizona Daily Star and the Tucson Sentinel, or various special interest groups that endorse candidates. And you can get an early ballot and look it over in the comfort of your own home. Or you can throw a ballot party and invite your friends and argue about who to support. Just get your early ballot by calling the Pima County Recorder’s Office at (520) 724-4330 or visit recorder.pima.gov. Or you can be old-fashioned and go down to the polls on Election Day, but in any case: Cast a ballot.
2. Speaking of Casting a Ballot, These Candidates Have Trouble Voting
Sometimes, the people asking for you vote have a pretty lousy voting record themselves. When the Weekly asked JP Martin, who is running for seat in the Arizona House of Representatives against Legislative District 10 incumbents Randy Friese and Pamela Powers Hannley, about his poor voting record (he’s only voted twice: in the 2016 presidential primary and general), he blamed it on being registered as a Libertarian for nearly four years before switching to the Democratic Party. When asked why he didn’t vote in general elections that included major ballot issues, he said: “I should have definitely gotten more involved in voting for those, but I just didn’t… Those damn millennials and their lack of voting.”
Likewise, Legislative District 10 House of Representatives candidate Domingo DeGrazia hopes voters turn out to elect him in a competitive four-way primary, but his own voting record is inconsistent. DeGrazia voted in his first local election in 2017, in his early 40s. Besides that, he only voted in the 2008, 2012 and 2016 presidential elections. Before that, he hadn’t cast a vote in Pima County since 1992.
DeGrazia told the Weekly he didn’t understand the importance of local or national politics in the past. He said he failed to vote because he was just starting his law career and family when the economy collapse a decade ago. Try voting by mail, Domingo! It’s a huge timesaver for the busy, modern man.
3.Nothing Stops a Bad Mom With a Gun Like a Good Son With a Gun
It takes a lot to get local attention in a state legislative race, much less national attention. But telling people at a gun-safety forum that you killed your own mom will do it.
Legislative District 2 Senate Republican Bobby Wilson told the crowd at a Moms Demand Action forum on gun-violence prevention that the best way to stop a bad guy with a gun is to have a good guy with a gun on the scene. And he said that he knew this from experience, because when he was 18 years old, he killed his own mom as she was trying to kill him.
According to his own account in his book Bobby’s Trials, Wilson spent his childhood with his mentally ill mother and younger sister. They moved frequently at his mother’s discretion until settling in rural Oklahoma during his teenage years.
“She had told my sister and I that she had no relatives, we had no father, no aunts or uncles, no grandparents, nothing,” Wilson said. “We were completely alone.”
Wilson said in the book that he woke up that night to his mother pointing a rifle in his face. As she screamed at him, Wilson turned off the lights and she fired six shots in the dark room. Wilson was able to dodge all of them and hide under his bed as the bullets ricocheted off the walls.
Becoming frustrated, his mother began to swing the rifle around, hoping to strike her son. Instead, as Wilson’s younger sister entered the room, she broke the rifle over her daughter’s head, killing her.
At this point, Wilson grabbed a pistol he had kept under his bed and shot his mother in the head, killing her in self-defense. He got up to turn on the light, not knowing that minutes earlier a stray bullet struck a can of gasoline that was stored in a corner of the room. With gas escaping into the house, the light switch set off a spark and the entire house exploded in flames, sending Wilson’s body flying into the yard.
He survived, amazingly, and had no recollection of what happened after authorities were called by neighbors who spotted the house fire. With two dead and the only witness unable to remember what happened, Wilson was placed in jail for the murder of his mother and sister.
He was tried twice in court but never received a conviction because he claimed his amnesia prevented him from giving a proper testimony.
Years later, the case was dismissed completely after Wilson regained his memory of that night.
Unsurprisingly, the crowd at the Moms Demand Action forum did not respond well to his comments. Wilson, who is facing businesswoman Shelley Kais in the GOP primary, later told Tucson Weekly that he will no longer be speaking with reporters because he has obtained legal counsel and plans to sue several media outlets for libel, although he didn’t specify which publications will be sued.
4.Not the Only Jew Trying To Help Families Cross the Border
When David Duke drew attention to Democrat Alma Hernandez on Twitter, she considered it a sign she was doing something right. The Legislative District 3 House of Representatives candidate is proud to be Jewish, Hispanic and a progressive Democrat, three areas that make her the natural enemy of the former KKK leader and outspoken white nationalist.
Duke tweeted a quote from an article in the Jewish Telegraphic Agency about Hernandez bringing necessity items to a shelter in Nogales, Sonora: “Hernandez, 25, is not the only Jew trying to help families crossing the border. But for her, the work is personal.” He added: “Fellow (((Hispanics))) Intensify.” The triple-parenthesis notation is the new way that anti-Semites refer to Jews on Twitter.
While the tweet intimidated her at first, Hernandez said she refuses to live in fear and instead continued to focus on her campaign against Olivia Cajero Bedford and Andres Cano in the LD3 Democratic primary.
5.If He Loses the Race, He Can Head Up Trump’s Health and Human Services
Congressional District 2 Republican candidate Brandon Martin told the Weekly: “We are losing our Republic, we are losing our freedom, we are losing everything that our founders fought for.”
Martin, who is facing Lea Márquez Peterson, Casey Welch and Danny “DJ” Morales in the race to for the seat now held by Congresswoman Martha McSally, would like to rectify those loses by losing Medicare and Social Security. He’d also like to put a sunset clause on the Department of Education, and let that expire over a period of five to 10 years. He does have one spending priority: The military.
And if you think this liberal rag is exaggerating, well, just ask Martin. He loved the article we wrote about him so much, he posted it on his campaign website.
Martin also started a smear campaign against his opponent, Márquez Peterson, but the website may be more revealing of his own views than hers. For example, a post saying Márquez Peterson supports DACA is accompanied with a photo of a MS13 back tattoo. He also accuses her of the atrocity of hanging out with Sens. John McCain, Jeff Flake and the Mexican Consul. Martin also seems to take offense at an old post reminding people to vote while simultaneously celebrating Day of the Dead. Oh, and apparently she “hangs out with LaRaza.”
6.Hiding in McSally’s footsteps
Speaking of Lea Márquez Peterson: Unlike Brandon Martin, Lea Márquez Peterson has no love for the Tucson Weekly. Though she’s framed as the Republican front runner for Rep. Martha McSally’s seat, she can’t seem to find time for her constituents. Our Tucson Weekly reporter called and emailed Márquez Peterson five times in one week, to no avail. Finally, our executive editor Jim Ninzel got involved. (He and Lea go way back). But as you can see, several weeks later, we still have no interview with her to publish (SAD!).
But maybe she’s got the right idea. She does look up to McSally, after all. And guess who else doesn’t return our calls/email anymore? You guessed it! The current CD2 representative who is now busy running for U.S. Senate. But we don’t feel alone; until Arizona Daily Star political reporter Joe Ferguson shamed her on Facebook, McSally wasn’t getting back to him, either. At least she took a break from calling donors to speak to the local press for a few minutes.
No, we can’t assume that CD 2 Republican primary candidate Casey Welch is a moderate, but the fact that his ideas for immigration reform aren’t about terrorizing immigrant communities seems like a nod and a wink.
He believes that the United States’ foreign affairs funding for infrastructure projects and such should go to countries like Honduras and El Salvador.
Welch said based on his experience (living overseas for close to 20 years, visiting over 60 countries, speaking three languages and earning three masters degrees), valuable “soft power” engagement could stabilize communities and give immigrants and asylum seekers fewer reasons to leave in search of a better life.
“We’ve turned our back to Latin America,” he said. “In the past 15 years, most of our money and focus has been on the Middle East and we have not paid any attention to Latin America, and we’re seeing the outcome of that right now. It’s playing out on our TV every morning.”
8.A 21-Year-Old Kid Wants To Be Your Next Judge
Justice of the Peace candidate Keith Bee II is the 21-year-old son of Judge Keith Bee, who currently serves as Justice of the Peace in Precinct 5. There’s little information out there about the younger Bee’s credentials or background, although we do know he was born in July 1997, so a belated happy birthday and welcome to adulthood, Big Boy Bee!
Under Arizona law, you don’t need any legal background to become a judge on the Justice Court bench, but it might be nice if he had some life experience to deal with with small claims, civil traffic violations, criminal DUIs and evictions.
Bee II’s opponent, Douglas W. Taylor, is a career lawyer who owns his own practice. Taylor believes that if Bee II wins the election, the second-hand experience he’s gained from his father’s position is not sufficient knowledge for stepping into this job.
“If I took a bunch of plane flights, would I qualify to be a pilot?” he asked.
Tucson Weekly made multiple attempts to speak with Bee II about his campaign and received no response thus far. His father, Judge Keith Bee, responded to a phone call and declined to get us in contact with his son or verify any facts, claiming that would be “showing favoritism or partisanship.”
On the Pima County Republican Party’s webpage, Bee II was previously listed as Judge Bee, running for re-election. The webpage has since been corrected, but Taylor claims that both Bees stayed quiet and did nothing to fix this error.
The Weekly is (still) interested in speaking with this would-be Doogie Howser of the Justice Court about his campaign, so if he should read this—or if anyone reading this knows how to reach him—he can contact our reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org.