Posted by Bob Lord
[UPDATE: Late yesterday, the Stewart campaign blasted an email denouncing as "despicable" the recent mailer as likening Kate Gallego to Paula Deen. I only learned of that email after this post went up earlier today. Had I been aware of the email at the time of posting, it certainly would have been taken into account. In any event, Stewart's denouncement of the recent mailer is commendable. It represents the way a candidate should respond in this situation. In the email, Pastor Stewart also seemed to walk back the allegations that Gallego was using her husband's last name to fool the voters. although the email was a bit cryptic on that point. Should the Stewart campaign speak more directly on this last point, I will report further. Obviously, a direct apology would do a lot for Pastor Stewart's image, at least in my view.]
When Warren Stewart's supporters launched unethical attacks against his opponents during the primary campaign, I expected him to distance himself from those attacks and keep his supporters in line. After all, he's a member of the clergy. Moral character is supposed to be what he's all about. When Stewart failed to speak up, I called him out for his failure, but I still assumed it was more likely that it was his general consultant, Mario Diaz, not Stewart himself, who was masterminding the attacks and advising Stewart not to condemn them.
Given that Diaz stated repeatedly that he "stood by" Mary Rose Wilcox and Stewart, it was not an unfair assumption to make. Nonetheless, it now appears the attacks were more Stewart's idea than Diaz's.
Shortly after the Phoenix City Council election a month ago, Diaz announced that he and Stewart had parted ways and he would not be running the show for Stewart in the November runoff. In a tweet, Diaz stated:
I and my firm were honored to have represented @Stewart4phx for the primary election. Others are in charge now. Good luck to both candidates.
Good luck to both candidates? Wow. Those are code words for "I don't have a dog in this fight. Whichever candidate wins, I'm okay with it." And when the guy saying them ran Warren Stewart's campaign through the primary, he's hinting that he's rooting for Kate Gallego.
And good for Diaz. Very shortly after Diaz bailed, an independent expenditure group supporting Stewart sent an absolutely despicable mailer to CD8 residents asking "What do Paula Deen and Kate Gallego have in common?" The answer: "They both want to make money off minorities."
Apparently, the person behind the sleaze was not Diaz.
Here's my theory: Independent expenditure campaigns are not supposed to communicate with a candidate's campaign, but that rule likely is broken more than it's followed. I'm guessing Diaz knew the mailer was in the works, and said "no mas." So he parted ways with Stewart before the mailer hit the mailboxes.
The mailer likening Gallego to Paula Deen was consistent in style with a series of sleazy attacks from Stewart and his supporters. During the primary campaign, Stewart supporter Mary Rose Wilcox accused Gallego of using the seemingly routine act of taking her husband's last name as a ploy to deceive CD8 voters into believing she is Hispanic. I called on Stewart to disown Wilcox's statement. Not only did he refuse to do so, he ultimately used the same attack line in a mailer shortly before the primary.
Gallego was not the only target of the sleazy tactics of Stewart and his supporters. Lawrence Robinson also was slimed during Stewart's vicious primary campaign.
Shortly before the primary, the Stewart campaign used the "Gallego is trying to deceive the voters with her husband's name" theme in a mailer. The decision to send that mailer had to have been made by either Diaz or Stewart.
Well, we now know it wasn't Diaz.
So, is the sleaze merchant in the Stewart campaign the Pastor himself?
Disclosure: I support Kate Gallego in the CD8 race and have contributed to her campaign.