Steve Farley politicizes tragic death after Uber accident: “We need new leadership”

PHOENIX — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Steve Farley politicized the tragic death that occurred this week after an accident involving a self-driving Uber vehicle, saying that Arizona needs “new leadership” in the Governor’s Office next year.

Farley, a state senator, currently serves in the state legislature. He is running for the Democratic Party’s nomination in the race for governor.

On Monday, Arizona experienced a tragic fatality involving a self-driving vehicle — the country’s first since the technology came onto the market. The vehicle struck and killed a 49-year-old homeless Tempe woman, who will remain unnamed on this website for her friends and family’s privacy, as she crossed the street out of the crosswalk on Mill Avenue.

Farley quickly pinned the blame on his potential general-election opponent, Governor Doug Ducey, citing the governor’s stance on regulatory policy.

“This ‘low regulatory environment’ has now led to a fatality,” Farley wrote on social media. “I have been warning for years — Ducey has a dangerous desire to allow flashy out-of-state corporations to operate without oversight.”

“We need new leadership,” the Democratic candidate wrote in a follow-up tweet, adding the “#AZGOV” hashtag, which refers to the 2018 gubernatorial race.

Others issued less political statements.

The Governor’s Office said that “our hearts go out to the victim involved,” while Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber’s chief executive officer, called the incident “incredibly sad news” and promised Arizonans that the company is “thinking of the victim’s family as we work with local law enforcement to understand what happened.”

David Garcia, Farley’s opponent in the primary race, has faced similar criticism.

The Arizona State University professor was confronted on the radio earlier this month for unnecessarily politicizing a grassroots event organized by teachers.

Farley and Garcia — who have received dueling union endorsements from the American Federation of Teachers and Arizona Education Association, respectively — will face each other on the primary ballot in August 2018.

A version of this article appears at Arizona Democrats Exposed.

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Randi Weingarten, head of teachers union backing Steve Farley, deleted pro-Ducey tweet

PHOENIX — Randi Weingarten, the president of a teachers union backing State Senator Steve Farley’s gubernatorial bid, quietly deleted a tweet praising Republican Governor Doug Ducey.

Farley, a Democrat, announced in a fundraising email Monday that he had officially received an endorsement from the Arizona branch of Weingarten’s union.

“Exciting news!” the campaign wrote in an email to supporters. “American Federation of Teachers Arizona has endorsed Steve for governor.”

Weingarten has longstanding ties to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The union endorsed Clinton’s presidential bid in July 2015, calling her “the champion of working families need in the White House.” The endorsement, only three months after Clinton announced her candidacy, drew criticism from supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders, who dismissed the support as rushed and political.

Farley cited his own endorsement as proof that “we won’t improve K-12 education until we get rid of Doug Ducey.” What the Democratic state senator failed to mention, though, is that Weingarten applauded the governor’s education strategy.

In January 2017, when Governor Ducey announced a new plan for the state of Arizona to restore recession-era funding cuts to education, Weingarten immediately praised the plan social media.

“Good news for Arizona!” she tweeted. “Gov. Doug Ducey just said he plans to add $100 million in new K-12 education funding this year as a down-payment on the full restoration of a school capital funding formula that was slashed during the Great Recession.”

However, Weingarten quietly deleted the tweet, which no longer appears online. The Farley Report obtained a screenshot of that now-deleted tweet. The tweet can be seen above.

When asked last week if he would support a teachers strike, Farley responded that it was “hard to tell” if such an act would be counterproductive but added: “If the teachers are leaning in this direction and we’re not getting any action when it comes to the legislature, then we should support where the teachers are going.”

Farley recently lost the endorsement of another teachers union, the Arizona Education Association, to his Democratic primary opponent David Garcia. Garcia was roundly criticized for announcing the endorsement in the middle of an unrelated grassroots effort organized by teachers. The Arizona State University professor was called-out on the radio for having “trampled on” the effort by turning it into a campaign event without their knowledge.

“Since I came into the Governor’s Office three years ago in 2015, we have $1.7 billion additional dollars,” Governor Ducey said on KTAR radio this week. “Our per-pupil spending is up 10 percent in the state of Arizona, and the amount of dollars available for teacher pay — that’s both raises and new teachers — is plus-9 percent since 2015.”

A version of this article first appeared at Arizona Democrats Exposed.

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Steve Farley: “Hard to tell” if union-led teacher strike would be counterproductive

PHOENIX — Democratic state legislators Rebecca Rios and Steve Farley were pressed Wednesday evening about the likelihood of a union-led teachers strike in Arizona and how they would respond if it happened.

Representative Rios, who represents the state’s 27th legislative district in Maricopa County, and Senator Farley, who represents the state’s 9th legislative district in Pima County, offered markedly different answers on Wednesday’s “Arizona Horizon.”

“It’s a frightening prospect,” Rios said on KAET, when asked about her thoughts on the issue. “But I think, if we keep pushing this issue, kicking the can down the road and not paying teachers a livable wage, we’re going to be faced with that.”

(Click Here To Watch The Video.)

The house minority leader cited a recent claim by Joe Thomas, president of the Arizona Education Association, that the union has received an increased number of inquiries about the topic of a strike.

Ted Simons, the host of “Arizona Horizon,” referred to the recent strike in West Virginia — and, apparently sensing Rios’s hesitation to offer her full-throated support for such a demonstration, asked for clarification: “So not necessarily supporting a teachers strike?”

“No,” she said. “I hope it doesn’t come to that.”

Simons posed a similar question to Farley several times.

When asked if a teachers strike would be counter-productive in the current political environment in Arizona, Farley responded that it was “hard to tell.” However, the state senator implied that he might throw his support behind such a demonstration if it were to happen.

(Click Here To Watch The Video.)

“I asked Representative Rios, but I ask you again,” Simons asked, “Would you support a strike?”

“If the teachers are leaning in this direction and we’re not getting any action when it comes to the legislature,” Farley said, “then we should support where the teachers are going.”

The teachers union endorsed Professor David Garcia — Farley’s Democratic opponent in the gubernatorial primary race — earlier that day.

A version of this article appears at Arizona Democrats Exposed.

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Steve Farley loses teachers union endorsement to David Garcia

PHOENIX — In another blow to State Senator Steve Farley’s gubernatorial campaign, Arizona’s largest teachers union on Wednesday endorsed his Democratic primary opponent, David Garcia, for the state’s top office.

The endorsement from the Arizona Education Association occurred during an unrelated outdoor demonstrated called “Red For Ed” — the latter word standing for “education” — which was organized by teachers. The effort urged educators to show up wearing the color red and to advocate for public policies affecting their classrooms.

Garcia and the teachers union scheduled a press conference in the area, with most attendees also dressed in red.

“We believe that we have found someone that will step into the role as governor and turn this state around, who will address the teaching crisis head-on, who has ideas of ways to bring in the resources for teachers to be successful and will reverse the trend and end the status quo of mediocrity in our schools,” said Joe Thomas, president of the Arizona Education Association. “And that person is David Garcia.”

Garcia, wearing a red tie, spoke after Thomas.

“I am not running to be an education governor,” the candidate told the crowd. “When we win, we will elect an educator, a teacher, as governor.”

Garcia and Farley have been locked in a better primary race for the Democratic nomination.

Garcia, a professor at Arizona State University, recently won the endorsement of People for the American Way Action Fund, a liberal political group with ties to a secretive network of top donors to the Democratic Party called the Democracy Alliance. The professor accepted the endorsement on Arizona Statehood Day when he traveled to Washington, D.C.

However, Farley significantly out-fundraised his opponent in the most recent campaign-finance filing period. The state senator raised $513,000 for his gubernatorial run, while Garcia raised less than $300,000 — and reported having already spent more than two-thirds of that amount.

Garcia recently cited a poll characterizing Republican Governor Doug Ducey as politically “vulnerable” during the 2018 midterm elections, but the firm behind the poll was revealed to have long-standing ties to the Democratic Party, raising the question of whether the data was tainted by bias or partisanship.

A version of this article appears at Arizona Democrats Exposed.

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Steve Farley Is “Flattered” By The New And Improved Farley Report

PHOENIX — State Senator Steve Farley’s campaign said this week that he is “flattered” by The Farley Report, a new website dedicated to covering his legislative record and candidacy for governor.

This website, The Farley Report, first launched in February 2018. It has highlighted the state senator’s ongoing struggle to balance two warring constituencies — voters loyal to Senator Bernie Sanders and voters loyal to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — and his opposition to the popular tax reform package signed into law in December 2017.

In response to a new story in the Arizona Republic about the website, though, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate’s campaign said that it was “flattered” by the attention.

“We’re truly flattered at the coverage they’re gifting us,” his spokesman said, “but we’d much rather be talking about the teacher-less classrooms in our schools right now.”

Senator Farley began sending out his own version of the Farley Report to constituents and supporters in the mid-2000s. Initially deemed “FarleyGrams” by recipients, the emails are lengthy, opinionated scrolls about the comings-and-goings at the Arizona State Capitol. Each email, often containing thousands of words, would arrive in subscribers’ inboxes in weekly installments during the legislative session and monthly installments out of session.

To his credit, the state senator continues to send out these emails more than a decade after they launched.

But the emails aren’t exactly objective.

While Senator Farley’s campaign claims that “we’d much rather be talking about the teacher-less classrooms in our schools right now,” a typical Farley Report on the Democratic candidate’s website won’t mention when his positions on public policy are at odds with educators in his district.

For example, the state lawmaker vehemently opposed Senate Bill 1042, legislation that was aimed at improving the very problem he cited. The bill looked to get more teachers into classrooms in Arizona by reforming the state’s outdated teacher certification process. While Senator Farley called the legislation an “abomination” in an April 2017 email to constituents, he did not mention that Tucson Unified School District — in his own hometown — had endorsed the new law.

“According to district officials, it will not only help them ease a teacher shortage they have been battling for years but also continue hiring exceptional teachers,” KGUN reported.

The Arizona Daily Star reported three months later that Vail School District — also in southern Arizona — had utilized the legislation with great success, starting the new school year without any vacancies in a regular classroom.

“That was a huge accomplishment,” Superintendent Calvin Baker told the newspaper.

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