Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
God save thee, ancient Mariner
From the fiends, that plague thee thus
Why look'st thou so ? - With my cross-bow
I shot the ALBATROSS.
Ah. well a-day. what evil looks
Had I from old and young
Instead of the cross, the Albatross
About my neck was hung.
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Republican candidate for the Tucson City Council, Ben Buehler Garcia, has hung the albatross about his neck by hitching his campaign to the "I hate Tucson" hate radio personalities Jon Justice and Joe Higgins, and their hateful band of teabagger supporters. Most of these teabaggers are not even Tucson residents. That's the way to win an election in a heavily Democratic city, Ben. (not!)
There has been an entertaining exchange between Dan Gibson at the Tucson Weekly and the "albatross" campaign. On Tuesday, Gibson wrote Sorry, Ben Buehler-Garcia: Tucson Just Wasn't Ready for Your Twitterthon:
Ben Buehler-Garcia, a man who generally seems competent, allowed his campaign manager, Greg Harris and adviser-or-something Mike Shaw to convince him that five hours of fundraising via Twitter and Ustream was a good idea. Maybe they got the $10 contributions toward matching funds they were looking for, but the publicly visible end of the whole thing was a bit of a fiasco.
First, if you're a candidate and taking questions via Twitter, you have to expect that someone not aligned with your talking points will likely end up in the fray.
* * *
As questions go from people likely to be hostile to your viewpoints, those posed by tweeters I suspect are Uhlich supporters were reasonable, with a gentle press for Buehler-Garcia to elaborate on issues relevant to the gig he's applying for. However, he didn't answer, at least via Twitter (the place the question was posed), instead apparently responding on a Ustream feed very few people were seemingly watching. In fact, right now, the stream (and archives thereof) have racked up 98 total views over 24 hours after the event ended (and at least five of those are from me in the process of writing up this post).
If you're going to take questions via Twitter, you have to ANSWER THOSE QUESTIONS ON TWITTER. I get the premise behind being frustrated that more questions are coming from Uhlich campaign staff than the general public, but you still have to participate in the process you agreed to, especially if the questions are valid and politely presented. (Pension reform is kind of a big deal, considering the city's budgetary future and the potential ballot initiative that voters could decide in November if it's not kicked off the ballot.)
So, the Ustream. No one wants to watch five hours of anything on their computer, first of all. But, hey, it's not the worst idea in theory, until most of what I happened to catch were technically challenged clips of Buehler-Garcia interviewing people. Not particularly compelling fare, especially considering I jumped in as the third part of a multi-part feature interviewing Shelby Hawkins, owner of Five Star Pest Control. Interviewing local business owners, allowing them to vent their frustrations with the City Council? Fine. Pretending that Hawkins is just a regular citizen fed up with the system? Probably less believable, considering she gave $5,750 in donations to candidates like Jesse Kelly, Frank Antenori, and Herman Cain in 2012. Another Ustream guest: Joe Higgins, the right-wing talk show host, local business owner and champion of "Tucson Hates Business" thinking. The fifth hour of the broadcast had Jon Justice as a host.
Those folks have all the right in the world to speak on behalf of their preferred candidate, but if Buehler-Garcia (who isn't facing a primary) thinks the way to win over Tucson voters is to align himself with those closer to the polar right than the center, this election won't be as close as his last attempt to unseat Uhlich. Maybe the strategy is to appeal to the Tea Party types to get money together, then move to the middle, but people have a memory for this sort of thing.
Republican candidates running for city office have tried open disdain for the city they choose to live in before (hey, Tyler Vogt!), but I didn't have Ben Buehler-Garcia pegged as that kind of guy, although the whole Tweet-a-thon is making me rethink that assessment.
* * *
But now, between more or less ducking softballish questions on Twitter and aligning himself with the far right political types who can't acknowledge that anything good could possibly happen in the city they live in (or in Justice's case, the city he lives near) as long as Democrats are involved, I'm out.
Dan Gibson follows up in this week's edition of the Tweekly in his Editor's Note True Colors:
There's still a lot of time between now and when the vote-by-mail ballots go out in October, but whatever vague excitement I had that I might have an actual choice to make between Karin Uhlich and Ben Buehler-Garcia in the Ward 3 race was dashed this weekend by his Tweetathon, held over six hours on a Saturday .. .
* * *
[T]he problem really seemed to be that Buehler-Garcia decided to present himself as the same old Republican candidate running for office in Tucson, in the tradition of those who seem to lead any conversation with their dislike for the city and everything about it.
All my personal interactions with him have been positive. In fact, when I met him for the first time and introduced myself as the editor of the Weekly, he didn't even visually seem repulsed (this happens more often than you might imagine). I had the feeling that he might be closer to a Bob Walkup (stop laughing) than Frank Antenori in his perspective, but somehow during the Twitterthon's live stream, he was surrounded by the usual suspects: Shelby Hawkins, Jon Justice and a stream of people claiming that Tucson is the city that can't shoot straight.
Beyond that even, it seemed that he was unwilling to actually discuss the issues, as people (admittedly some of whom are affliated with Uhlich's campaign) asked the candidate questions he didn't want to answer during a Q&A session on Twitter. Apparently, he answered some of those questions on the nearly unwatchable video stream, but if you're going to take questions on Twitter, you sort of have to answer them, especially if they're focused on issues the City Council actually has to face, like pension reform and the budget.
Maybe this was just a kayfabe (an opportunity to use a wrestling term! look it up!) to get some donations in before the actual election cycle heats up, but if Buehler-Garcia is aiming for the far right instead of the center, I'll just have to be hopeful the GOP gets a clue before 2015.
Thanks to the Tucson Weekly for reporting on this . . . once again, the kind of thing you never see reported in the Arizona Daily Star (because Jim Click would not approve).