Check out the website:  Look at the recent Political Notes and Len’s Letters on the website.  

NORTHEAST: Political Note #363 Tom Malinowski NJ 07

SOUTHEAST: Political Note #385 Carolyn Bordeaux, Political Note #388 Elaine Luria VA 02

MIDWEST: Political Note #376 Lauren Underwood IL 14, Political Note #378 Elissa Slotkin MI 08, Political Note #357 Haley Stevens MI 11, Political Note #355 Angie Craig MN 02  

SOUTHWEST: Political Note #375 Steven Horsford NV 04, Political Note #356 Susie Lee NV 03, Political Note #377 Lizzie Fletcher TX 07, Political Note #362 Vicente Gonzalez TX 15

WEST: Political Note #383 Harley Rouda CA 48, Political Note #384 Peter DeFazio OR 04. 

June 6, 2021           Political Note #389 Tom O’Halleran AZ 01

2022                         General Election

Arizona’s first congressional district begins at the state’s northern border.  It extends south in a wide swath through the center of the state – east of Flagstaff but not as far east as the eastern border.  It continues nearly as far south as Tucson and, for the most part, surrounds Phoenix.  It looks a little like a head with a large mouth about to swallow Phoenix.  With more than 58,000 square miles, the District is slightly larger than the state of Illinois.

The Congressional District’s median household income is $55,400 –roughly $10,000 below the national median.  The non-Hispanic white population has dropped below 50%. With 23% of the population, Native Americans are the Congressional District’s second largest population group.   AZ 01 is home to the Navajo Nation, the Hopi Reservation, and the Gila River Indian Community.  There are almost as many Hispanics as Native Americans.  Notwithstanding those demographics, the Cook Report calculates that AZ 01 has a 2% Republican lean.

Neither demographics nor “lean” are destiny.  Tom O’Halleran, a moderate to conservative Democrat, is in the process of running for his fourth term as the Member of Congress from AZ 01. His average share of the vote for his three previous elections was 52%. He is not a shoo-in for 2022.

Tom O’Halleran is an example of what Republicans, confounded by what their Party has become, should do.  He was a Republican member of the Arizona House of Representatives from 2001 to 2007 and in the Arizona Senate for the term immediately after that.  A believer in working with the other political party, he was part of a successful bipartisan effort to support full day kindergarten.  He led a successful effort to reorganize the state’s dysfunctional children’s protective services.

He got no accolades for his leadership.  In fact, there was a cost.  His committee chairmanship was removed.  He lost the State Senate seat, too.   In 2008 he was defeated in the Republican primary.

After a stint as a radio personality in the retirement community of Sedona, where he lived, Tom O’Halleran quit the Republican Party.   He ran in 2014 for the Arizona State Senate as an independent and lost by 3%.  After that, he became a Democrat and ran for Congress as a member of his new political party.

In 2016, Tom O’Halleran won the Democratic nomination.  He was fortunate in his Republican opponent.  Readers from Western Massachusetts (there are a few because that is where I had my career) may remember his Republican opponent —  Paul Babeau.  In Arizona, he had been elected sheriff, a position from which he sought to move on to a career in Congress.  In Massachusetts, Babeau was a failed candidate for city office in North Adams and for a Berkshire County legislative seat. For a brief period, he was Executive Director of the DeSisto special education school — a problematic place before, during, and after his tenure.  The DeSisto School was so problematic it was closed by the Massachusetts Department of Education in 2004 for endangering the health and safety of its students.

People move to Arizona from all over the country.  Retired or not, they can re-invent themselves in ways that reflect who they were and who they want to be.  Tom O’Halleran retired to Arizona with his wife after two careers in Chicago.  It would be hard to find a place in the United States more different from Chicago than this district in New Mexico’s desert.

Tom O’Halleran and his two brothers grew up in Chicago because his parents lost their dairy farm during the depression.  They moved from rural Illinois to the Chicago his mother was from. His father found work as a janitor in a steel foundry.  His mother worked as a secretary when she could find work.

Tom O’Halleran graduated from a Catholic High School and attended two colleges – one year for each.  In 1966 at age 20, he joined the Chicago police.  He was there for the police riot in 1968 and the riots after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.  Tom O’Halleran got himself into a fast track. He was promoted to work in narcotics and, from there, to homicide.   In an Arizona interview, he described the narcotics work as mundane, but the homicide work as important.  Most of the murders he dealt with, he said, were gang-related. In putting people away for murder, he saw himself as making Chicago safer.

He left the police department in 1975 well short of pension eligibility.  By 1979, he was a Member of the Chicago Board of Trade.  In the interview Tom O’Halleran doesn’t explain why left the police, what attracted him to the Board of Trade, or how he accumulated the $30,000 or so needed to buy a seat.  He became a Board of Trade Member in 1979, served two terms on a related Board of Directors, and, eventually became a technology consultant as computers were being introduced and expanded for the purposes of trading and for integrating Chicago’s several exchanges.

Another change at the Board of Trade when Tom O’Halleran began was in what was traded.  Ginnie Mae mortgage certificates were already being traded.  In 1977 they began trading what Tom O’Halleran specialized in —  US Treasury bonds.  He retired in 1992. He and his wife moved to Arizona in 1993 and he began his technology consulting in that year. His connection with the Board of Trade made him a prosperous man.  He is not among the fifty wealthiest Members of Congress, but his net worth, in 2018, was more than $6 million.

Politically, Tom O’Halleran is where you might expect a former police detective and a former trader in US Treasury Bonds.  He had been a moderate to liberal Republican.  Now he is a moderate to conservative Democrat.  He is the chair for communications of the Democrat’s conservative Blue Dog Coalition.  Like many of those with similar views, he is a member of the Bi-Partisan Problem Solvers Caucus.  He is also a member of the fiscally conservative and culturally progressive New Democrat Coalition.  To surprise us, he’s a member of the LGBT Equality Caucus.

On his website, his Ethics and Accountability Plan is at the head of his issues section.  He opposes perks for Members such as first-class flights. He proposes making the independent Office of Congressional Ethics permanent.  Tom O’Halleran’s commitment to jobs incorporates a vision of high-quality education, support for community colleges, and making college affordable. He argues for higher minimum wages, equal pay for women, and tax cuts for businesses that have profit sharing with their employees. He supports social security as a benefit which he sees as having been earned after years of work. Social Security, he insistes, deserves protecting. He argues for greater support for research and for infrastructure.

As for his record, Tom O’Halleran has supported legalized abortion, incentives for businesses to use renewable energy, a two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians, expanded background checks for gun safety. He has opposed an assault-weapon ban.  He opposed Trump’s Muslim ban and the pardon for Joe Arpaio.  He also opposed ending qualified immunity for police officers.  During the January 6 insurrection, he assisted colleagues and staff as they moved to safe locations.  He has been supportive of Joe Biden’s initiatives and voted for the American Rescue Plan.

For those who wish Tom O’Halleran were more progressive, remember how preferable he is to the current Republican candidate:  an African American former tank commander who insists that he does not support George Floyd and that Black Lives Matter is a terrorist organization.  Democrats need every Member to sustain a House majority.  Help him win this seat again.

Candidates to flip Republican Seats

California 48             Harley Rouda

Members of Congress who won with less than 52% of the vote

Georgia 07   Carolyn Bordeaux  Received 51.39% of the vote in 2020

Iowa 03          Cynthia Axne  Received 48.9% of the vote in 2020

Illinois 14      Lauren Underwood Received 50.67% of the vote in 2020

Michigan 08 Elissa Slotkin Received 50.88% of the vote in 2020

Michigan 11 Haley Stevens  Received 50.2% of the vote in 2020

Minnesota 02 Angie Craig Received 48.21% of the vote in 2020

Nevada 03 Susie Lee Received 48.75% of the vote in 2020

Nevada 04 Steve Horsford Received 50.67% of the vote in 2020

New Jersey 07 Tom Malinowski Received 50.61% of the vote in 2020

Oregon 04    Peter DeFazio  Received 51.26% of the vote in 2020

Texas 07 Lizzie Fletcher Received 50.79% of the vote in 2020

Texas 15 Vicente Gonzalez Received 50.5% of the vote in 2020

Organizations to support

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC)

The Democratic National Committee (DNC).  The official organization of the Democratic Party.

Fair Fight Promotes fair elections around the country

A Special Interest of Mine

New York City has its own small-town politics.   Many of the readers of Lenspoliticalnotes are New Yorkers.  Some may live in or know people in Part A of Assembly District 76 (roughly east of 3rd Avenue and south of 79th Street to and including Roosevelt Island).

If you live in Part A of State Assembly District 76 in New York, please support and vote for Rebecca Weintraub in the June 22 Democratic Primary.   If you know people who live in Part A of Assembly District 76, please encourage them to vote for her.

Our club and the other Democratic Club in District 76 are supporting Rebecca Weintraub’s candidacy to be one of four District Leaders of the 76th Assembly District — the female leader of Part A of Assembly District 76.  District Leaders are a kind of liaison between political parties and the community.

You can learn more about Rebecca Weintraub at her Website or at Twitter @RSWinNYC or at Instagram /RSW_in_NYC or at Facebook /VoteRebeccaWeintraub.  In her non-political life, she is Vice President of a public relations firm, mother of Benjamin, and wife of Evan.  In her political life, she has been an active member of our club, a leader in an innovative effort collecting video responses from NYC candidates for public office used to assess who to endorse and who to vote for.