John Kavanagh, a Republican member of the Arizona House of Representatives, who represents District 23, has spoken out on how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected the electoral chances of the GOP in the state as well as nationwide and has suggested that despite the pandemic-inflicted economic issues, President Trump still can win the upcoming election.
Sputnik: Your primary is scheduled for the 4th of August. What are the main challenges and issues the people of Arizona and your district are facing right now?
John Kavanagh: Well, this is a primary, which means that we’re all Republicans in the primary. So we’re trying to get Republican voters to pick us to advance to the general election, to run against the Democrat. In this country as a general rule Republicans are conservative and Democrats are liberal. So we’re basically, you know, trying to convince our base that we hold the same conservative values that they hold and that we will promote them when we get into office.
They’re also non-liberal-conservative issues. I mean, I received numerous awards from the Animal Humane Society, spits out a lot of anti-animal cruelty bills. One of the problems we have in Arizona is these so-called short-term rental AirBnBs. I assume you have that in Russia, too, where people rent their apartments like hotel rooms. That is causing major disruptions in residential communities. So I ran a bill to control the abuses there and I’m still trying to curtail it. So we’re pretty much talking to the constituents about what we’re doing. I’ve been in 14 years, so I can also talk about what I’ve accomplished.
Sputnik: According to the presidential race polls, presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden is currently outperforming Donald Trump in Arizona. What could be the possible reasons behind this, in your view?
John Kavanagh: Well, I think the major reason is the Covid-19 problem, which has not destroyed, but really harmed our economy. Prior to Covid-19, the economy was on fire and I think Trump would have got an easy win in the election. But, you know, people tend to blame who’s ever in power for different things that go south. So I think he was harmed by that also. People haven’t heard much from Biden. He’s like, you know, in his basement saying as little as possible. So that doesn’t help him too much. And, you know, he’s prone to make gaffes and people are questioning how sharp he is right now on certain issues or in responding. So I think when the debates come up and if the economy is better, I think President Trump has an excellent chance.
Sputnik: Arizona is one of the pivotal states in which Democrats have a lead over Republicans, according to recent polls. How concerning is this for the party? What are the main reasons for this?
John Kavanagh: Well, again, national politics tends to drive down to lower races. So I think a lot of it is Covid and President Trump. You know, people, you know, not being happy about Covid, what have you. But what we did elect a Democrat US senator, which was kind of a shock to everybody. So there was a shift. Younger people might be a little bit more prone to vote Democrat. And there’s some speculation that people are fleeing, ironically, the over-taxation and over-regulation of uber-Democrat state California to come here. But they don’t cast away all of their voting habits and they tend to vote Democrat. And that may be true to some extent, but like all things in life, there are many, many variables and not all of them can we even grasp.
Sputnik: Recent numbers have shown that Senator McSally is falling behind her Democratic counterpart after being appointed to fill the late John McCain’s seat. Has the party’s agenda shifted in any way since the prominent senator passed away?
John Kavanagh: Well, I think the McSally campaign or the party, I’m not sure who’s running the particular ads, are trying to bring out some of the opponent’s negatives like his close ties with China. But I think to a great degree, that race will very much be influenced by the way the presidential race goes. I think if President Trump comes back and does well, that he will carry Sally with him.
Sputnik: In 2016, Trump gained the needed amount of votes through independents to secure a victory. How is the situation this year?
John Kavanagh: Well, independents are always kind of the big question mark. A lot of studies, though, have shown that they do tend to split very much the way the registration is, Democrat or Republican. But there’s enough leeway in there where if it’s a close race, as we say in American politics, the tail can wag the dog. So everybody obviously tries to communicate with the independents and please them.
Sputnik: In your view, has the president managed to expand his base in Arizona during these four years?
John Kavanagh: I don’t know. I guess you have to look at polling. I can tell you that the Democrats are very, very actively involved and have been in and registering young people and trying to talk to groups that they believe would be more sympathetic to them to get them registered. Although generally those people, because they’re usually very young people, have a very low voter turnout. So while they may get X number, that doesn’t generate the same number of votes. And they have a lot of outside money. They, amazingly, the Democrats, which is supposedly the party against the rich, uber-rich, and they get funded very much by the millionaires and billionaires to do these things. So I guess the politics makes strange bedfellows or take it, you know, if you can get it, take it and, you know, just hold your nose and spend them, I guess they’re thinking
Sputnik: How would you evaluate President Trump’s chances in this election?
John Kavanagh: Oh, I think he’ll carry. I think you’ll see Covid coming under control and the economy is already coming back. We have some good unemployment numbers going down. So as the economy goes back, I think he’ll build. He’ll do well. I forget who it was who said that. It might have been during President Clinton’s first or second campaign. But the big phrase was “it’s the economy, stupid.” And there’s a great deal of truth to that. If people have a good job, they’re making money, they got the cash to go out to dinner and see a movie there, you know that they’re going to be content. But if not, they may look for change. I might add, there’s one other factor.
Both parties tend to be drawn to please their bases. I mean, those are the people in each party who are super active: they volunteer, they go to the meetings with the other campaign workers, they donate a lot of money, even if it’s small amounts and large numbers collectively, don’t add a lot of money. These are the base. And if you offend the base, you usually can’t get, you know, to be your party’s candidate. You can’t get through the primary. And if you offend the base, they often will not turnout in the general because they’ll be mad at you. So what’s happening with the Democrats is their base has become very, very left-wing, very extreme to the point where, you know, some of them are calling for the tearing down of the statues of George Washington. Yeah, well, that’s you know, that’s another political saying called “Don’t let a good crisis go to waste.” And that’s part of what’s happening there. But Biden will probably… he’s resisting, but he will inevitably be forced to take on some rather far-left positions that will not please the independents and even moderate Democrats. So that could cost them independent votes. And it might cause moderate Democrats in disgust not to turn out. You don’t have to vote against somebody. You can also not turn out if you’re among the people that that candidate thinks are going to support them.