Are John McCain's gurus the miracle workers Daniel Valenzuela needs to be Phoenix mayor?
Opinion: The Democrat clearly wants to reinvent himself to appeal to Republicans. But he might need more than that to defeat Kate Gallego.
It's hard to believe in miracles when it comes to politics. But you can’t blame Daniel Valenzuela for trying to pull one off by hiring the late Republican Sen. John McCain's campaign gurus.
Valenzuela is attempting to reinvent himself after finishing 19 points behind Kate Gallego in the Phoenix mayoral race. And, apparently, the progressive Democrat believes three McCain campaign alums will produce the miracle he needs to defeat former fellow council member Gallego in the March 12 runoff.
Finishing a distant second is embarrassing for the Glendale firefighter with the backing of public-safety union bosses and the business elite. He needs to convince powerful and well-heeled folks that he still is a viable candidate.
The question is whether turning to McCain’s strategists will do the trick.
“We have two and a half months to prove to voters that Daniel Valenzuela is the right leader to be the next mayor of Phoenix,’’ Ryan O’Daniel, Valenzuela’s new campaign leader, said in a statement Wednesday.
Will Republicans really vote for him?
O’Daniel has his job cut out for him. He has two months to do the job that the candidate himself wasn’t able to do in the past year. And get this, the McCain affiliation didn’t appear to serve O’Daniel that well with his Republican mayoral candidate Moses Sanchez.
O’Daniel was a top strategist for Sanchez, who came in third in the four-way August mayoral race. Gallego got 45 percent of the vote, Valenzuela received 26 percent, Sanchez received 19 percent and Nicholas Sarwark got 10 percent.
Sanchez tweeted Wednesday that O’Daniel is a “great person. Trustworthy, honest, humble. Literally #GameChanger.”
There is no reason to doubt Sanchez's assertion – other than the fact that he lost. But let’s assume O’Daniel is the game changer that Valenzuela needs.
What radical trick might he pull off to transform Valenzuela? Or is he simply counting on luring Sanchez’s 71,121 votes to his camp to edge out Gallego’s advantage?
Can it really be that simple? Mathematically speaking, yes, if we assume most who voted for Sanchez are Republicans. Gallego and Valenzuela are both Democrats with similar progressive voting record on the city council.
They both need to convince Phoenicians to vote again – and both need to broaden their appeal to conservatives.
Valenzuela already made his case
Phoenix mayoral candidate Daniel Valenzuela on why he will give up his job as a firefighter if he is elected. Arizona Republic
To accomplish that objective, Valenzuela also hired two other McCain alums: Michelle Kauk as communications director and Crystal Bradley as the new finance director.
Valenzuela might also be counting on lower voter turnout in the March election when fewer residents are expected go to the polls.
“I see this campaign for the runoff as a new election,” said Valenzuela in the statement announcing his new campaign team.
Yes, Valenzuela gets another chance at explaining why he’s the best person to lead the city of 1.6 million residents. Unfortunately for him, Phoenicians already got a pretty good idea of his experience, his qualifications and his struggle to communicate his vision.
Miracles do happen – but not without divine intervention, right?
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