While Wil Cardon and Jeff Flake duke it out in the AZ Senate GOP primary, Dr. Richard Carmona sits unopposed, waiting. Carmona had been set to face Dr. David Ruben in a primary battle, but Ruben was forced to withdraw after discovering that nearly half of the signatures he had collected to get on the ballot were invalid.
In April, Daily Kos Elections suggested that Carmona's race was "second tier, at best," but recent polling suggests otherwise. In May, Public Policy Polling (pdf) showed Carmona behind Cardon by only three points. While he trailed Flake by a much larger margin of 13 points, they also added this note:
The positive flip side to that is that voters who know both Carmona and Flake strongly favor Carmona, suggesting that as Carmona continues to campaign and become a known commodity to the rest of the electorate, he can close the gap. The improvement in his name identification so far has been entirely with Democrats, however. [emphasis added]So, who is Dr. Richard Carmona?
Vice Admiral Richard H. Carmona is a medical doctor and former Surgeon General, but his path was not always so bright; forty-five years ago, Carmona was a high school dropout from Harlem. In politics, we are used to silver-spoon candidates who have been handed everything in life, but no one handed Carmona anything. The Puerto Rican descendant clawed his way out of the ghetto, fighting to give himself and his children a better life.
In 1967, Carmona joined the United States Army, where he received his G.E.D. and became a Special Forces medic serving in Vietnam. After leaving the Army, he earned an Associate Degree in Nursing from Bronx Community College, and then went on to earn his Bachelor Degree and, later, in 1979, medical degree from the University of California, San Francisco. The young man, with everything stacked against him, had gone from high-school-dropout to medical doctor in 12 years.
In 1986, Carmona joined the Pima County Sheriff's Department in Arizona, where he worked until being nominated to the posts of Surgeon General by George W Bush in 2002. Against pressure from the Bush administration, Carmona released reports in 2006 about the dangers of second-hand smoke. He later testified that administration made attempts to "water-down" his reports and block him from speaking on certain topics.
Carmona accused the Bush Administration of preventing him from speaking out on certain public health issues such as embryonic stem cell research, global climate change, emergency contraception, and abstinence-only sex education, where the Administration's political stance conflicted with scientific and medical opinion.Despite these pressures, Carmona stood up for what he believed in: science.
Carmona is currently a professor at the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health at the University of Arizona and a member of the Board of Trustees of the Ross University School of Medicine.
The reason that "people who know both Carmona and Flake strongly favor Carmona" is because Carmona represents the true American dream. On his campaign website he tells us:
No matter where I’ve gone and what I’ve done in life, I’ve never forgotten where I came from. I grew up in a poor Hispanic family. My parents battled with alcoholism and substance abuse. As a kid, I experienced hunger and homelessness. Like many of my friends at the time, I dropped out of high school but found direction in the U.S. Army and was able to change the trajectory of my life. I know what it’s like to be part of a struggling family – and I know that we can’t afford more of the same old politics.You can read more about his policies and positions here and, if you feel so inclined, donate to his campaign here. The only reason Dr. Richard Carmona is a "second tier candidate, at best" is because enough people don't know him, yet. Let's do what we can to introduce him to everyone.