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Gia Arnold’s Bizarre Wednesday

14 Aug

Gia Arnold is a 24 year-old wife and mother who decided in February to run for State Senate against George Maziarz. Introducing herself in her first Facebook post, she explained, 

That’s a nice introduction. She’s got a young family and a hard-working husband. Certainly, Ms. Arnold’s statements regarding high business taxes and “insurance” rates resonate with a lot of people, especially in the more economically depressed parts of the state.  Is this self-proclaimed libertarian suggesting that government intervene to affect private companies’ insurance rates, or is this about tort reform? Who knows? 

In her second post, she self-identifies as “working class” and laments the fact that the incumbent has been in office for 19 years, yet the burden on families and businesses continues to worsen. But it didn’t take long for this kind of crap to become the overarching – almost sole – focus of her campaign: guns

By March, she received the clown endorsement: 

And a few weeks ago, she showed up at an event wearing jewelry I haven’t seen at Reeds-Jenss. 

You get the idea. She knows her audience and she’s become expert at the fine art of pandering.

Maziarz’s Moreland Commission problems put SD-62 into play, and she suddenly found herself with a decent shot in a primary race against the mayor of North Tonawanda, Robert Ortt. She came out of nowhere, and her grassroots effort seemed to be paying dividends. 

Then, suddenly, she issued a bizarre statement in the middle of the night. She revealed that she had an extramarital affair that began less than two weeks ago, and made no apologies for it. She declared that she was quitting the race and gave out her personal cell phone number so that “constituents” could talk to her directly. (Ms. Arnold had never been elected to any public office and has no constituents). She was admitting to the affair out of sense of “integrity” and “honesty”. Laudable, but an answer to a question no one asked. Perhaps she was being blackmailed? Pressured? Or maybe she was just trying to wrest control of the narrative before anyone else got a hold of it. 

But quit the race? Who told her to do that? This isn’t a “people make mistakes” scenario – this is a “failed marriage ending”, and she doesn’t owe anyone any explanation about her personal affairs. If she wanted to control the message, then issue a press release at 4:59 on a Friday and let the news sink in over the weekend. Gauge the reaction and see whether you need to pivot on Monday. Instead, she threw the baby out with the bathwater, walking away from the campaign even though no one demanded that she do so. Her erstwhile supporter Rus Thompson’s reaction was to essentially say, “good riddance”

Albany, however, is a notoriously fetid cesspool. Gia Arnold – failed marriage and all – is small potatoes compared to what goes on there. She’s downright saintly compared to a lot of what goes on there. 

I don’t question her judgment viz. her extramarital affair because who cares; however, I think the hasty amateur-hour way in which she released the news and abruptly quit is evidence that her judgment is poor, and she’s not ready for prime-time. (As for the substance of her poorly articulated platform, let’s not even go there.) 

The news hit Wednesday morning. By mid-afternoon, she was on WBEN telling Tom Bauerle that she might reconsider dropping out, and, in an effort to further justify her new relationship and its affect on her campaign, spent extraordinary time and breath smearing her estranged husband. It went from odd to bizarre, as she explained how she started her affair on August 1st and decided to end her marriage by the 5th. 

A few weeks ago, when the Maziarz news hit, I paid some attention to her and found some ugly stuff on her Facebook page that she hadn’t called out; namely, one guy going ballistic because she appeared somewhere where they had gold fringe on the flag (there is a wackadoodle conspiracy theory that fringe means we’re under martial law or some bullshit), and this on her campaign page, in a discussion about a White House announcement regarding disappearing bees: 

To her credit, she addressed it and deleted the nonsense. So, I don’t think she’s malevolent – just very wrong on the issues and very, very inexperienced. 

She didn’t have to quit the race, and she should have been more diplomatic about her husband Wednesday on the air. I think those two things call her judgment into question and disqualify her from public office, at least for now. The flip-flop on “I’m quitting the race!” to “Never mind!” was simply comical. 

I think back to when I was 24 – I was in law school – and I hand it to her for having the courage to run and put herself out there. But it’s just too early, I think. Go run for town board or county legislature. Gain some experience. Build a support base that’s deeper than “guns”. Learn. Teach. Build up your resume. Don’t rely just on ideology, but also on accomplishments. 

We need more people like Gia Arnold getting involved in politics – on the left and right. But please, recruit some professionals to help you with strategy, messaging, and policy and don’t just wing it.