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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona doesn’t need Jesse Kelly

The race in the 8th Congressional District between Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and Republican challenger Jesse Kelly can best be described by the elderly couple sitting behind me at last week’s debate: “”It’s good to see grown-ups misbehave.””

Anybody with a television or radio has seen the constant stream of attack ads between the two, further polarizing and angering the electorate. This race has been annoyingly light on the issues and — like so many modern political contests — heavy on the personal attacks. During last week’s debate, candidates spat out the same, redundant, overly rehearsed campaign talking points and exchanged jabs over each other’s previous businesses, backgrounds and so-called ulterior motives. It seems this particular race is about Giffords having to play defense and Kelly rallying the angry electorate with populist anti-big government rhetoric and hawkish, yet politically popular, statements on the border. However, when one gets past the distractions seen on TV, and examines the positions held by Kelly, it becomes pretty obvious that the correct choice this November is to send Giffords back to Washington, D.C.

Kelly, a strong conservative and favorite of the Tea Party movement, is about as savvy a politician as any. He may be a political outsider, but he knows how to rally people together and capitalize on the vast anti-government sentiment present throughout the country. Both physically and politically imposing, Kelly is a strong speaker who has become very good at reciting popular Tea Party slogans and comparing his opponent to the perennial enemies of conservatism: Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama. However, his views on the issues are too far to the right for this fairly moderate congressional district, and if elected, he would put the ideals of the Tea Party movement above the needs of the electorate.

Kelly prides himself as someone looking to cut out the waste in Washington, but at what expense? Among the many things he would like to cut, if elected, is the system of federal grants and loans to universities, claiming they cause universities to be bloated and are the reason for rising costs. The jury is still out on whether this is true, but cutting federal research funding would greatly hurt UA. As a primarily research institution, the university relies on such funding and a drastic cut would fundamentally change many aspects of how UA works.

Kelly is also a staunch opponent of earmarks, claiming they are equivalent to legalized bribery. While it’s true that some earmark requests from congressmen can be a bit egregious, earmarks make up less than 1 percent of the federal budget and fund many necessary infrastructure projects around the country, creating jobs and taking care of necessary problems.  

In addition, Kelly is a supporter of supply-side economics, or as he calls it, Reaganomics. This is the idea that cutting taxes actually increases government revenue, something that sounds good in theory but that the Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush years proved doesn’t work in practice. He claims to be a fiscal hawk, but his economic policy is modeled after the policies of Bush and Reagan, presidents who oversaw massive deficits.

Kelly is also a hawk on immigration, claiming anything that’s not mass deportation of illegal immigrants currently in the United States to be amnesty. This idea is unrealistic, as you can’t simply round up millions of people and deport them away. Not only does our economy benefit from immigrant labor, it’s impossible from a logistical standpoint.

Kelly is a favorite of the anti-big-government crowd — who feels the government can never do anything effective, nor should play any role in the economy. They wrongly feel that government is always the enemy and the cause of many of society’s problems. While criticism of the functionality of certain aspects of government is healthy to the system, disavowing all things government won’t solve the crisis our country currently faces. In November, the residents of Congressional District 8 should look past the misleading ads put out by both sides and look at the issues. After doing so, it becomes very clear that Southern Arizona does not need the radically anti-government policies of Jesse Kelly.

— Andrew Shepherd is a political science senior. He can be reached at

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