Are Phoenix Voters Ready For A Right-Wing Mayor?

As the Phoenix mayoral contest comes down the home stretch, the race is looking more like an obstacle course for Peggy Neely.  The "Jobs-Jobs-Jobs" candidate is being forced to weave her way around a series of political potholes ... some of which she dug herself.

Earlier this summer the former councilwoman was an odds-on favorite to finish as one of the top two candidates in the August 30th election.  But several weeks ago the wheels on her campaign started to wobble.  Now Neely is fighting to secure the second spot behind Greg Stanton.

People said Peggy was sitting pretty.
What the hell happened?

Reformer or Raging Bull?

The first visible sign that Neely was sputtering was when her campaign became preoccupied with candidate Wes Gullett a couple of weeks ago.  Which began about the same time that the
Arizona Republic endorsed Gullett for mayor by saying: "He is slightly right-of-center in his politics, a moderate who promises to make the difficult reforms necessary to bring the city budget in line."

The extremely right-of-center Neely has a different view of Gullett, who she says is
a labor union loving and SB1070 supporting political insider. As a candidate, Gullett is about exciting as watching cactus grow.  And his campaign is about as inspiring as the instructions for installing a water filtration system.  Nevertheless, the Neely campaign is spooked about Gullet, who, until recently, was only supposed to be the dark horse in the race.  

Neely says the election is about reforming city government.  But it's also beginning to be about her history -- or as she likes to call it, "My track record." Neely wasn't elected to the City Council for three terms without developing cozy relationships with affluent zoning attorneys, deep-pocketed developers and lobbyists willing to lend her a hand along the way. This group of influence peddlers, according to the candidate, will no longer receive the royal treatment at Mayor Neely's City Hall.

As part of her so-called "reform crusade," Neely has also charged that fat contracts with unions and their plush pensions have helped push the city into the red.  So she wants to put "union bosses" in their place.  Interestingly, earlier this year she had hoped they would have a place in her campaign.  That's why she made the rounds several months ago soliciting labor organizations' support and endorsements.

One prominent labor leader says that when Neely was told his organization would be endorsing one of her competitors, Neely went nuts - and she "threw one of hell of a tantrum."  Shortly after that awkward meeting, Neely went on the warpath against "union bosses."

Now Neely is having trouble reconciling her rhetoric with her record.

The Point of No Return

As the vote-by-mail window shrinks and election day draws closer, Neely isn't just running to the right side of the political spectrum ... she's galloping there. Neely is so desperate to get into the November run-off election that she's willing to drive her campaign right off the edge of the electorate.

Peggy Neely has started to sound like Sal DiCiccio in drag.

The real Sal DiCiccio couldn't be happier.  Neely is channeling DiCiccio's iconoclastic ideology - a unique blend of Tea Party and political paranoia.  The thought of someone being elected mayor who is willing to espouse his philosophy has earned Neely DicCiccio's endorsement.

Neely is campaigning like the August 30th election is a Republican primary.  Which means she's attempting to appeal to the fringe element of the party and every nutball who's registered to vote.  And that's likely to come back to bite her if she edges out Wes Gullett and ends up in the November 8th run-off election.

With less than two weeks to go in this first election, Peggy Neely has reached a point of no return.  She's digging into a political position from which there is no turning back.   

Will mainstream voters be willing to elect Sal's gal?