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Carmona A Politico Rambo

In Battle With Flake

Richard Carmona
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Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Richard Carmona talks with fellow veteran David Lucier Saturday in Tempe.

But delving even deeper into Carmona’s past record shows that even if Carmona was, “the handpicked candidate of President Obama,” he will go his own way even when it is not good for him.

That story begins in the public arena in 1993 when he was let go as the trauma director for Tucson Medical Center, or TMC. A merger had occurred between TMC and University Medical Center. According to reporting in the Tucson Weekly article announcing Carmona was awarded more than $3 million to settle legal proceedings over whether he had been discharged without cause, “Hospital officials at the time also publicly stated that Carmona was ‘not a team player,’ and sources linked to TMC commented then that Carmona’s management style made joint UMC-TMC teamwork impossible.”

Heck, he even made TMC take out full page ads in the Tucson Citizen and Arizona Daily Star and apologize.

Just a few years later, Carmona was once again in the spotlight. By 1999, Carmona was running the Pima County Health System after a brief stint as director of Kino Hospital. Controversy again reared its head when he began to butt heads with his “patron,” current then Pima County Supervisor and current U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva, according to Tucson Weekly. The end result was Carmona stepped down with a $75,000 severance package within hours of what was expected to be his firing by the Board of Supervisors.

Carmona stuck to his guns throughout the ordeal, claiming he was working with the county manager to get the deficits down.

But more than a dozen years after his squabbles with Grijalva, the two men have seemingly made amends since Grijalva has endorsed Carmona’s run.

But Carmona was not done charting his own course.

Less than three years after that public squabble, President George W. Bush came calling and he became U.S. Surgeon General. And again, Carmona went his own way, while remaining a good soldier. After his term was over, he joined several former Surgeon Generals in calling for more political impartiality to the highest public health post in the country. He claimed his work on the dangers of secondhand smoke was pressured by the administration.

"Anything that doesn't fit into the political appointees' ideological, theological or political agenda is ignored, marginalized or simply buried,” Carmona said to Reuters in 2007.

So, Carmona was “handpicked” by two politicians in the past. And on both occasions, he has called them out when he felt they needed it.

Seems like voters might have more to be worried about if he wasn’t “handpicked.”

Flake’s handpicked argument has fallen flat and now he is turning to one of the two reasons cited for Carmona being shown the door in Pima County in 1999. The first involved Grijalva’s physician, who was accused of writing fraudulent prescriptions. The other was that the deficit incurred by the Pima County Health System during Carmona’s two-year tenure was nearly $46 million. In these days of “fiscal cliffs,” conservatives consider that a strong argument.

But what lay under those facts is that Carmona fought for what he thought was right. And, that he will not stop fighting for it.

“This is not going to be an easy job,” Carmona said Saturday. “I am not going to stand here and tell you that I am going to solve all of your problems. I am going to work real hard and I am going to listen. I am going to work for you. You may not agree with me on everything but you will be heard.”

More importantly, time is running out for Flake and Carmona is so close to victory.

With all apologies to John J. Rambo, Jeff Flake better be prepared to lose: Carmona is coming for you.

John Guzzon is editor of Modern Times Magazine.
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