Green Valley News: Campaign 101: How not to do it

Lea Marquez-Peterson is a Republican running for Martha McSally’s seat in Congressional District 2. If money talks, she’s a shoo-in. She’s light-years ahead of her three GOP competitors in fundraising.

She just has to keep her head down through the primary and save her money for the general.

She’s very good at that first part.

Marquez-Peterson has appeared in zero honest-to-goodness public forums despite several invites, and just turned down one in Green Valley set for Thursday. (Her campaign manager told me she has a long-scheduled board meeting; she’s head of the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.)

That’s not to say she hasn’t been out. She has, a lot. She’ll attend a Brown Bag Luncheon in Green Valley later this month. But that’s not the same as going head-to-head with the competition.

She appeared in one forum at the exclusive Mountain Oyster Club in Tucson organized by the Pima County Republican Party. The event was open only to Republicans, and about 40 people attended. Journalists were not welcome (though one got in, click here). Questions came from the audience.

It doesn’t count as a true forum.

Fact is, Lea Marquez-Peterson has nothing to gain by showing up at an honest public forum in the primary. She announced her bid for office in December and then largely went underground, other than meeting with monied donors behind closed doors and a few safe speaking engagements.

Her campaign manager insists she is getting out there, and listed several national media outlets that have interviewed her. Because the Washington Post apparently has its finger on the pulse of Southern Arizona...

Marquez-Peterson is doing politics just like everybody else. Money comes first, and we get it.

What we don’t get is her apparent unwillingness to raise money and hold an honest debate at the same time. There’s precedent for it.

Both of these candidates could take a lesson from Rep. Martha McSally and the large group of Democrats running in CD2.

The Democrats have been holding forum after forum since fall. I’ve been to two of them, including one in Quail Creek. They all sound pretty much the same to me, but seeing them on stage together and interacting is important.

And McSally showed up for a three-way primary debate in Sahuarita in 2014 against two opponents who didn’t have a prayer. It was the biggest crowd ever to attend an event in the Quail Creek ballroom. Last year, she dismissed her staff’s advice to avoid a Town Hall meeting in Sahuarita and showed up to face 300 angry people in the room and more than twice that outside banging on the doors. You may not agree with her politics, but both of those decisions told us a lot about McSally’s commitment to constituents.

Likewise, poor decisions have told us a lot about Marquez-Peterson and Sinema in the past week. Here’s the message: The money is more important than the people.

The silver lining is that it’s quite possible we learned more about them from their actions than we would have from any debate question.


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