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Stirewaltisms: The Self-Defeating Anger of Arizona’s Republicans
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Stirewaltisms: The Self-Defeating Anger of Arizona’s Republicans

It may cost them winnable races for Senate and governor.


PHOENIX—Greetings from the Grand Canyon State, where the book tour and the campaign trail intersect for me today.

Maricopa County is an apt place for that to happen, given that nearly two years after I was privileged to be part of the Fox News Decision Desk team that called Arizona for now-President Biden, that projection is still in the news. I am proud to have been a part of that little moment of history, and it’s very nice to hear the kind things I’ve heard on my  visit here—and to have not heard any of the unkind words I’m sure some folks were thinking. But I think Arizona deserves a break.

The people of this state have had it pretty bad when it comes to politics in the past decade or so: the effort to undo Biden’s 2020 victory here, the bitter struggle over the state’s aggressive 2010 laws concerning illegal immigrants during the Obama era, and even the attempted assassination of one of its members of Congress.

And now, with just a little more than six weeks to go before the 2022 midterms, Arizonans are being afflicted with a truly dreadful cycle that has been a lot about the 2020 election and too little about the future of one of the fastest-growing and increasingly prosperous states in the union. Indeed, whether the hardcore MAGA candidate or progressive Democrat wins the gubernatorial election in November, the state will see the end of the success and stability of the eight years of  term-limited Gov. Doug Ducey

Democrat Katie Hobbs is betting that Republican Kari Lake, with an assist from the GOP’s pick for secretary of state, Mark Finchem, will so embarrass themselves with their talk of 2020 and other conspiracy claptrap that the governorship will drop right into Democrats’ laps. Hobbs isn’t even debating Lake, saying it would only embarrass the state. It’s not exactly a profile in courage, but it looks like it’s working.

Arizona Republicans’ anger over 2020 may also cost them a winnable Senate seat, if not Republican control of the Senate itself. In a normal world, Ducey would be the Republicans’ nominee to take on incumbent Democrat Sen. Mark Kelly. But because Ducey wouldn’t help then-President Donald Trump try to steal the state’s electoral votes, he would face intense opposition inside his own party, even as a generally popular, very conservative incumbent governor. 

Instead, Republicans have chosen Blake Masters, an acolyte of tech billionaire Peter Thiel. Getting a fringy political novice to take on an incumbent senator would always be a dubious proposition. Doing so when your party’s other statewide candidates are oddballs too seems like a serious miscalculation. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell seems to think so. The Senate Leadership PAC, which is closely aligned with McConnell, yanked $10 million in ads slated to try to prop up Masters. After weeks of dismal polling, the PAC pulled the plug in favor of more competitive races. Thiel is riding to the rescue with millions more from him and his friends, but I doubt Arizonans will be much impressed by a Big Tech Californian dumping money into their state.

The angry mood of the Arizona GOP these days has many causes, not the least of which is the frustration with their state being continually made to bear the brunt of the mass migrations from Central America. But it doesn’t really matter why. The anger is the reason that Republicans may lose two easily winnable seats here in what nationally is still a good year for the GOP. 

Holy croakano! We welcome your feedback, so please email us with your tips, corrections, reactions, amplifications, etc. at STIREWALTISMS@THEDISPATCH.COM. If you’d like to be considered for publication, please include your real name and hometown. If you don’t want your comments to be made public, please specify.


Biden job performance

Average approval: 42.6 percent
Average disapproval: 54.1 percent
Net score: -11.5 points
Change from one week ago: ↑ 0.6 points
Change from one month ago: ↑ 4.3 points 

[Average includes: NYT/Siena: 42% approve-53% disapprove; NPR/PBS NewsHour: 42% approve-54% disapprove; NBC News: 45% approve-52% disapprove; Fox News: 43% approve-56% disapprove; Ipsos/Reuters: 39% approve-54% disapprove; Gallup: 42% approve-56% disapprove; Marquette Law School: 45% approve-55% disapprove]

Generic congressional ballot 

Democrats: 46.3 percent
Republicans: 43.3 percent
Net advantage: Democratic Party +3.0 points
Change from one week ago: Democratic Party ↑ 0.6 points
Change from one month ago: Democratic Party ↑ 1.3 points

[Average includes: NYT/Siena: 46% Democrat, 44% Republican; NBC News: 46% Democrat, 46% Republican; Fox News: 44% Democrat, 41% Republican; NPR/PBS NewsHour: 48% Democrat, 44% Republican; Wall Street Journal: 47% Democrat, 44% Republican; Marquette Law School: 47% Democrat, 41% Republican]


Pitchfork: “In a way, British pop musicians and the Queen have been in a quiet competition to define the image of the country for over half a century. Some say British pop played a crucial role in the nation’s adjustment to the loss of empire: If Britannia no longer ruled the waves, it might still rule the airwaves. … The arc of the Beatles’ evolution from entertainers to counterculture leaders can be traced through their interactions with Elizabeth II. …  ‘The Queen Is Dead,’ the title track of the Smiths’ classic 1986 album, is not a clearcut denunciation of the Royal Family, but more like a weird blend of lament and whimsy. … It’s a neat encapsulation of the way the Royal Family really do function like pop stars—permanently for some people, and for others, only in moments of weakness. Maybe one day, there’ll be no dreaming in England’s future—no need for distraction from the intractable.”


New York Times: “The contest for the seat of Senator Richard M. Burr, a Republican who is retiring, may be 2022’s sleeper race, garnering far less attention than the colorful campaigns in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Georgia. [P]ublic polling has shown Ms. [Cheri] Beasley knotted in a statistical tie with her Republican opponent, Representative Ted Budd. … North Carolina is a state that loves to break Democrats’ hearts, and they can be forgiven their skittishness. … Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s ambitions for the Tarheel State fell short by over a percentage point in 2020. That same year, a well-regarded Democratic Senate candidate, Cal Cunningham, stumbled on a sex scandal and dashed hopes again. … For all the talk of ‘purple’ North Carolina, many political scientists say the number of true swing voters is tiny. The state is more a patchwork of deep-blue and deep-red redoubts. Winning might be less about persuading swing voters than about bringing your team out in force.”

GOP tries corruption claims against Warnock: Politico: “To defeat Raphael Warnock this fall, Republicans have to pull off a tricky feat: Making the pastor of Martin Luther King Jr.’s home church come off like any other self-serving politician. … Now Republicans are going after Warnock’s financial gains since he took office, as economic conditions worsened for average citizens. … Warnock’s opponents are zeroing in on a unique $7,400 monthly housing allowance he receives as pastor of Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church. … But dinging Warnock as quick to use taxpayer and campaign donor money to cover personal expenses is a risky play given the liabilities of GOP nominee Herschel Walker — a former football star prone to gaffes with a history of alleged domestic violence. … The Warnock campaign has repeatedly run ads about Walker’s purported character flaws, though the Republican has stayed within striking distance in polls.”

GOP candidates embrace abortion refferenda: Washington Post: “As their party confronts the vexing political fallout of the Supreme Court striking down Roe v. Wade, some Republicans — especially those in tough 2022 races — are taking things a step further in trying to rid themselves of the issue: Embracing the idea that voters themselves should decide it. … This week, both Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and New Mexico GOP governor candidate Mark Ronchetti proposed letting voters decide the issue, in different ways. … One state that will see abortion actually on the ballot this fall is Michigan, whose Supreme Court made sure of that last week over Republican objections. GOP gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon promptly responded by saying voters can now ‘vote for [Gov.] Gretchen Whitmer’s abortion agenda & still vote against her.’”

Gun control group may cause headaches with late ad blitz: Politico: “An uptick in crime over the last two years, coupled with a spike in Republican-sponsored TV ads attacking Democrats on public safety, has pushed the issue to the forefront of the midterms. … Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund, the gun safety group founded and primarily funded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, is now priming pushback against the GOP on guns. … Some Democratic pollsters made it clear that their party should still want to focus on other issues. Crime ‘is an issue where Republicans are on offense almost everywhere,’ said Zac McCrary, a Democratic pollster. … And a recent NBC News poll showed that Republicans enjoy a 23-point advantage on the question of which party voters trusted more to handle crime.”


House passes update to Electoral Count Act, teeing up Senate action—NBC News

Newt Lite: McCarthy’s agenda rollout aims for ‘Contract with America’ 2.0—Politico

Thiel resurfaces as McConnell shuns struggling Arizona nominee—CNBC

Poll: Kemp up big, Walker nearly even with Warnock—Atlanta Journal-Constitution 

Record-setting spending on California sports gambling referenda—AP

Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., hints at Senate departure for 2024 governor run—Politico

The demographics of the House battleground—NBC News

Parallel campaigns: Abortion for Dems, inflation for GOP—New York Times

Henninger: The other Florida migration story—Wall Street Journal


“I get why it’s hard to keep cocaine from coming into the country. People in the United States like using cocaine…”—Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Florida) discussing which illegal drugs should be allowed to enter the country. 


“I’m surprised, based on polling both public and private that you rate Utah as solid Republican, even though it seems that [independent Senate candidate Evan McMullen] could give [Sen. Mike Lee] a good run.  Is this because of the Trump undercount factor in polling, so you don’t believe the apparent parity?  Lee is beloved by Trump Republicans but the non-Trump R’s seem embarrassed by Lee.  Your analysis?”—Tom Christofferson, Phoenix, Arizona

Third-party or independent candidates do sometimes win Senate elections. Both Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Angus King of Maine are both technically independents even though they caucus with and are reliable votes for the Democrats. McMullin and the Utah Democrats who have cleared the way for him pretty clearly hope that he will be a third. McMullin scored about 1 in 5 presidential votes in Utah in 2016, pretty impressive for a  first-time candidate without any party supporting his efforts. He achieved that feat with the help of many of his fellow members of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints who were revolted by the cruelty and hedonism of Republican nominee Donald Trump. But in 2020, Trump did just fine in Utah. He underperformed Utahn Mitt Romney’s presidential performance in 2012,  when Romney won nearly three-quarters of the vote. But Trump roughly tracked prior GOP nominees of recent history — a little worse than John McCain, a little better than Bob Dole. Lee’s journey from strict-constitutionalist conservative to dabbling in nationalism and Trumpism have no doubt alienated some Utah voters, but probably not as many as McMullin has alienated with his journey left from conservative alternative to Democratic doyenne. Lee may not do as well as Romney did in his 2018 Senate bid when he got more than 62 percent of the vote, but I bet he won’t be that far off. 

You should email us! Write to STIREWALTISMS@THEDISPATCH.COM with your tips, kudos, criticisms, insights, rediscovered words, wonderful names, recipes and, always, good jokes. Please include your real name—at least first and last—and hometown. Make sure to let me know in the email if you want to keep your submission private. My colleague, the dauntless Nate Moore, and I will look for your emails and then share the most interesting ones and my responses here. Clickety clack! 


Many entrants for this week’s contest tapped into The Wizard of Oz for their cutline comedy, but our winner kept it simple and punchy. 


“You, with the red slippers, over there.”—Susan Carusi, Brentwood, Tennessee

Honorable Mentions:

“Tell Fetterman the crudité is over there.”—Brett Houseman, Vista, California

“I could see Pennsylvania from my back porch …”—Leo Algminas, Wilmette, Illinois

Send your proposed cutline for the picture that appears at the top of this newsletter to STIREWALTISMS@THEDISPATCH.COM. We will pick the top entrants and an appropriate reward for the best of this month—even beyond the glory and adulation that will surely follow. Be hilarious, don’t be too dirty, and never be cruel. Include your full name and hometown. Have fun! 


The Cut: “Surprise: It’s actually not a good idea to cook chicken in NyQuil. The FDA released an official warning last week after videos of people cooking chicken drenched in cold medicine — nicknamed ‘sleepy chicken’ — gained traction on TikTok. Many of the videos have since been removed, but for those who had the misfortune of stumbling on the trend, it’s impossible to forget. Even though the FDA really, really wants you to. ‘A recent social media video challenge encourages people to cook chicken in NyQuil or another similar OTC cough and cold medication, presumably to eat,’ the FDA wrote in a lengthy statement. ‘The challenge sounds silly and unappetizing — and it is.’ … There have been many disgusting TikTok cooking trends over the years — from the table top chili to literally any desert from Jason Derulo — but ‘sleepy chicken’ has got to be one of the worst. I may never eat again.”

Chris Stirewalt is a contributing editor at The Dispatch, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and the author of Broken News, a new book on media and politics. Nate Moore contributed to this report.

Chris Stirewalt is a contributing editor at The Dispatch, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, the politics editor for NewsNation, co-host of the Ink Stained Wretches podcast, and author of Broken News, a book on media and politics.