Can Andrew Thomas win?
Laurie Roberts, columnist | azcentral.com 9:26 a.m. MST July 28, 2014
He is "the one true conservative". A "warrior", taking on the gays and the Mexicans with one hand while fighting off the "liberal elites" with the other as he continues his quest to be Arizona's next governor.
The only candidate, we're told, who can save us "before it's too late."
Last week, Andrew Thomas unveiled his plan to fight illegal immigration and I must say, he made the red meat being tossed by Christine Jones and Doug Ducey look like so much poultry. (You know, chicken?)
Thomas wants to build a fence and if the feds and Native Americans who own the land won't let him build it at the Mexican border, he says he'll build it up to 200 miles north of the border.
Instead of the Berlin Wall, we'll have "The Patton Line", as Thomas calls it, and anyone wanting in or out of southern Arizona would go through checkpoints, manned by the Arizona National Guard.
Hey, we never liked Tucson that much anyway.
Political consultants are rolling their eyes at the outlandish campaign of the former Maricopa County attorney who just two years ago was disbarred for abusing his prosecutorial power.
Thomas, they say, is not only disbarred and disgraced but deluded if he thinks he can win the Aug. 26 Republican primary.
"He appeals to a very narrow, a very angry segment of the Republican Party and that's it," says Chuck Coughlin, whose firm HighGround is working with Scott Smith. "The story that follows him around, at least, in this media market, is still very consistent: the disbarment, the abuse of power. Even in activist conservative circles, they know he's unhinged."
Funny, I remember people telling me that same thing nearly three decades ago when I was a young political reporter and another guy was running for governor. His name was Evan Mecham.
Mecham sold Pontiacs and was a perennial candidate, a far-right outlier who also called himself the "true conservative" as he railed against the state's "invisible power structure," including newspaper and downtown fat cats, and vowed to rescind the then-Gov. Bruce Babbitt's executive order creating a state Martin Luther King holiday. The week before the primary election, House Majority Leader Burton Barr held a "comfortable" lead over Mecham in the polls, 35 percent to 20 percent, with 45 percent still undecided.
I can still hear the sound of jaws hitting the ground on election night, when Mecham bested Barr with 54 percent of the vote. He went on to become governor, thanks to a three-way race that allowed him to slip in with 40 percent support.
Now we have Thomas, running like it's 2010 -- and in a way, it is, with illegal immigration once again THE issue in Republican circles.
Thomas, the only candidate in the herd who is also taking on "the homosexual agenda". Thomas, who explains that he was disbarred "by Arizona's courts after he exposed the courts' refusal to enforce state immigration laws."
"Vote Andrew Thomas before it's too late," he says his TV ad, as a Mexican flag slowly covers Arizona.
Remember that Thomas, while up to his eyeballs in trouble, lost the attorney general's race to Tom Horne by only 900 votes in 2010.
Now he's part of a six-way primary and while polls show that he's a mere spec on the gubernatorial horizon, that spec has grown in recent days, with up to 45 percent of likely voters still undecided.
"He's moving," one politico told me. "The question is whether he runs out of time."
And money. Thomas is a Clean Elections candidate, running with $753,616 in public funding. That is unless Democrats -- salivating over the prospect of another Len Munsil v. Janet Napolitano matchup -- mount a dark-money campaign to help him out.
But no, Thomas can't win the primary, I'm reliably told by those who make a living analyzing these things.
"The first five answers to that question are no. But the sixth answer is stranger things have happened," said Stan Barnes of Copper State Consulting. "No I don't think he can win. But in a perfect storm of a six-way race where the vote is splattered equally among (candidates) and in the midst of the federal government busing illegal immigrants from other states in Arizona, you can make an explanation of how it could happen…
"But all that is fanciful talk because everything else in me says given his disbarment and disgrace publicly, his lack of significant resources, his zealotry, his amateurness, all of that means he cannot win."
Funny, they said the same thing about Evan Mecham.