Ted Simons: Good evening, and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Pinal County sheriff Paul Babeu is considered a rising star in the party in the Republican Party, but his star power is in question following a story first reported by the Phoenix new times. In the story, a man who says he's Babeu's ex lover alleges that Babeu threatened to have him deported if their relationship became public. At a press conference, Babeu denied making the threat, but he did say that he is gay, and that he did have a relationship with a 34-year-old Mexican national, who claims to be in the country legally. All of this due to the career of a first-year sheriff running for Congress in the fourth congressional district. Here to talk about that is Marcus Dellartino, a partner in first strategic communications and public relations firm. Good to have you here thanks for joining us.
Marcus Dellartino: Thanks for having me.
Ted Simons: What are your initial thoughts on this story?
Marcus Dellartino: Well, wow. A big wow. There is a bombshell heard on Friday that continued all the way through the weekend.
Ted Simions: The impact on the fourth congressional district campaign. Talk to us about that.
Marcus Dellartino: Well, you know, most people need to understand this new district in the fourth congressional district is the most Republican district that is going to be created. And is very conservative. This is, this is not central Phoenix. This is Mohave County, which has one of the highest populations of Republicans. Yavapai County, one of the highest populations of Republicans. It's a difficult district.
Ted Simons: And there is so many questions here. Let's start with, with, again, the abusive threat of power allegations, that's, that's a biggy. But, let's go to, to politics here. Can a gay man win support from today's Arizona Republican party? Political support?
Marcus Dellartino: I think, certainly, there can be an opportunity in the right district. This certainly is not that district. This is the wrong place to, to have that issue. And, and it's, it's a culmination of factors, really. It resolves, you know, certainly you are going to lose some conservative evangelical Republicans on, solely on that issue. You are going to lose a certain part of the Republicans on, frankly, the judgment issue. And you are going to lose some of the Republicans on the relationship issue.
Ted Simons: Let's talk about that. I mean, the biggest political hit, and we're talking politics here, and perceptions and such. Touted as gay, allegations of deportation to an ex boyfriend, or these pictures that, apparently, are all over the internet, or in certain spots. What hurts him the most?
Marcus Dellartino: Honestly, I would contend to you the pictures hurt him the most, and the fact of the matter is, there is no simple way to say this, Ted, but people don't enjoy seeing their politicians in their underwear. They really like them to be clothed. If it was a popular thing to do, we would see the whole capital covered in pictures, but that's not the case, so that's -- it's going to stick in the mind of the voter, and that's, that's a problem.
Ted Simons: He defended his right to take these photographs at his press conference. Was that a wise thing to do, politically?
Marcus Dellartino: I think that he was trying to make the point that everybody is entitled to their private lives. And certainly, most people would agree. Unfortunately, in politics, it doesn't work like that. There is a whole contingent of people that wishes it would, but it does not. And perceptions, reality, and it's, it's -- unfortunately, you posted it, and you put these pictures on the internet, and or e-mailed them to somebody, it's out in the public arena.
Ted Simons: So how do you think that he handled this during his press conference?
Marcus Dellartino: I thought the press conference, I thought that he did a great job facing the issue and coming out and saying, look, I'm gay. It was not a shock to people in politics, and it wasn't a shock to a lot of people in the media who suspected that he was. It would have been easier had he come out, you know, six months ago and announced that, and I think that this would have been pretty much a non-issue now. But, the other interesting thing about the press conference is he repeated that it's a private issue, and at the same time, conducted it at the county building, with sworn deputies, and taxpayer uniforms, and if it's a private issue, the press conference should have been at his house, or in private property, and everybody should, should be dressed in normal attire.
Ted Simons: And there are already critics out there saying that that was a misuse of authority for using these Pinal County sheriff's employees as a backdrop for your press conference.
Marcus Dellartino: Sure, and I think in the rest to respond, he wanted to show that he has the support of his deputies and people that he's led that, that trust him, and I think that that is certainly true. But, in the rush, they forgot that they just opened themselves up to another attack.
Ted Simons: A couple quotes from the press conference I want to get your comments on. One of them was “this is an effort to harm me personally and politically”. Was that a wise attack to take, do you think?
Marcus Dellartino: It was. You know, there is no beating around the bush. Yes, there was an effort to do that. At some point during this campaign, it was going to come out that he was gay. That's not a shocker. That's why I say he should have been out ahead of this curve about six months prior to it.
Ted Simons: Another quote is, “I'm not hiding or ashamed of anything”. And I would imagine pictures included? Again, wise?
Marcus Dellartino: I would not be proud of those pictures, let me tell you, and there is details involved in this, and that, that I'm uncomfortable with, and I certainly -- these are things that I don't talk about with my doctor, much less put them on the internet. And I think that, that it's going to be tough to, to be proud of some of those issues.
Ted Simons: Ok. Where does he go? Does he have a political future in Arizona, or does he have a political future period, and if so, where, how, and why?
Marcus Dellartino: Pinal County loves him, and whether they can put this behind them, you know, there could be a moment where he, he decides to run for sheriff again. He would have to work that out internally. I can tell you that the chances of him winning in this conservative Republican district are slim. Very slim.
Ted Simons: What about the impact on the Romney campaign? I know that he's now away from that. A hitthere?
Marcus Dellartino: I think that the interesting thing about the Romney campaign is that it won't affect them. They have bigger problems with Rick Santorum creeping up. The issue, is it may come up in the presidential debate.
Ted Simons: I was going to ask that next. Do you think it will be a factor there?
Marcus Dellartino: You have everybody major news outlet in Arizona right now. And they are all following the story. I think that it's going to be, after watching John King and some of thes performances, he's going to be tempted to ask this question.
Ted Simons: It will be interesting to see how the some of the candidates respond, too, because you could have wildly divergent responses, couldn't you?
Marcus Dellartino: Absolutely.
Ted Simons: All right. Marcus, good stuff. Thank you for your insight, and we appreciate you being here.
Marcus Dellartino: Glad to be here.