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Cardon Lashes Out

As His Candidacy Sinks

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Wil Cardon makes his last debate appearance in the 2012 race for an Arizona Senate seat.
North Phoenix Tea Party Takes Offense At Rep. Jeff Flake’s Cancellation As Rival Wil Cardon Blasts Former Friend And Other Opponents

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By John Guzzon
Modern Times Magazine

Aug. 23, 2012 — Mesa businessman Wil Cardon looked like a man who knew he was going to lose the battle for Arizona's vacant U.S. Senate seat Wednesday at a tea party debate.

He should, since most credible polls have him trailing U.S. Rep. Jeff Flake by double digits.

But Cardon’s angst wasn’t solely due to his loss at the polls. For you see, Cardon was the prime donor to his own campaign — to a tune of more than $8 million — according to campaign finance reports.

See Cardon’s FEC filing here.

But — and with all ‘credit’ due to the advertising guys who wrote the MasterCard bit — losing by double digits while still loaning your campaign more than $8 million is beyond ‘priceless.’

It more like a tragic comedy.

Consequently, Cardon made a last ditch — and emotional — attempt to bridge the gap separating him from Rep. Jeff Flake Wednesday night by attacking both his former friend as well as the other candidates.

The attacks against his former friend — and a guy who he had donated thousands to in the past — are understandable. This primary battle has been between Cardon and Flake from the start and as the front runner, Flake was the obvious target.

Since Flake didn’t show for the tea party debate — the last debate of the primary season — most in attendance interpreted his absence as an obvious slap in the face to the also-rans as well as tea party honcho Wes Harris and the tea party in general.

Cardon, though, seemed to take Flake's absence as a symbolic "final nail in the coffin" of his dead candidacy.

Sure, everyone in the room took their shots at Flake, who, not so coincidentally, and in all likelihood, will win the republican primary easily.

But Wednesday night, Cardon’s attacks on the other two candidates — Bryan Hackbarth and Clair “Van” Van Steenwyk — were the acts of man who knew he had lost both millions of dollars and the election by a landslide.

“This is the last time, I think, that the three of us are going to be together. It has been a long, long, road. We have travelled together tens of thousands of miles all across this state. And I can tell you we all worked hard and all of these men on this stage are all good men,” Cardon said. “Right now, more than ever, though, I can’t understand how we as a party don’t come together and not elect Jeff Flake. All of the polling that I have done, with all due respect, shows you both (Hackbarth and Van Steenwyk) at less than 5 percent. And if we lose this election, you will have elected Jeff Flake. And you are very good men, it is just a fact.”

The most recent public poll was released about a month ago by Magellan Strategies, a Colorado-based, republican-leaning polling firm that conducted the poll on behalf of Flake. That poll put the support behind VanSteenwyk and Hackbarth at about 17 combined, Flake at 45 percent and Cardon at 23 percent with about 16 percent undecided.

Cardon evidently thinks that even if Flake’s poll numbers from last month were correct, the 10 to 20 percent or so of the vote that Hackbarth and VanSteenwyk are sitting on were mainly votes against Jeff Flake. That line of thinking would inevitably lead to the impression that those ‘anti-Flake’ votes would have gone to Cardon without Hackbarth and VanSteenwyk in the race.

VanSteenwyk, who felt he deserved a chance to answer Cardon’s back-handed slap, was denied that chance “officially” from the moderator, well known tea-partier Wes Harris. So, VanSteenwyk went on anyway, lambasting Cardon as a former power broker who got too big for his britches as Cardon, Hackbarth and half of the room walked out.

“If you believe you can travel that many miles and have somebody ask you to drop out of the race, you are limited. I understand what got John McCain in office two years ago. I understand it was big money that put him office and I know where it came from. It partly came from the man walking out of the room (Cardon),” VanSteenwyk said.

But VanSteenwyk, who failed to file his pre-primary report, did not loan $8 million to himself for the chance to lose by double digits. He raised — according to his most recent filing with the Federal Elections Commission in July — about $9,000 and spent most of it already.

Cardon spent more cash than most will make in their lifetimes. And all he accomplished was to lose in a possible landslide.

Some might say he’s young and he’ll have more shots at it. Say, four years from now when McCain might possibly step aside.

But the thing Cardon has working against him is he tried to muscle in on Flake’s moment in the GOP sun and railed against the “establishment” including kingmaker John McCain. He probably would have gotten a bigger bang for his buck by investing that $8 million in Flake and other GOP hopefuls.

Cardon might be feeling that Hackbarth and VanSteenwyk have cost him a shot at Flake, but I’m sure Flake feels the same way about Cardon. Flake had to spend a lot of cash to fight Cardon off, a commodity that won’t come cheap in the general election against democratic nominee and former U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona.

Karma, truly is a cold bitch. Especially in politics.

John Guzzon is editor of Modern Times Magazine.
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