Haven’t heard of Kelly Fryer? Here’s why.

The political kingmakers are at it again, and they really don’t want Kelly Fryer to be the next governor of Arizona.

Although Fryer started campaigning nearly a year after her two primary opponents, she has quickly built momentum. On Monday, Fryer was named one of 16 LGBTQ candidates to watch in the 2018 midterms by Cosmopolitan.

Kelly Fryer and her wife in the 2018 Phoenix Pride Parade

Despite having a rock-solid resume with decades of executive leadership experience and an unmatched ability to inspire, the political establishment and media in Phoenix and Tucson are doing everything they can to shut down the woman who could be Arizona’s first openly gay governor.

A publication that calls itself Arizona’s “leading source of political news ” and claims to influence legislative policy ran a story this week that included every candidate for governor except Fryer — even though she is the only one with a clear, detailed, and public proposal on the issue in the article.

Six of this publication’s staffers receive her press releases. Fryer has been in the race for six months, has received national attention, and is polling on the heels of the career politician who has raised the most money. There is no excuse for excluding her.

This is voter suppression. It’s anti-democratic. And it needs to stop now.

Little Rascals Clubhouse

Why we should care

Here’s what is so problematic — and scary: this latest publication to intentionally exclude Fryer calls itself “the nexus between state government and the public.” Their About Us page on the website says “our coverage influences policy, defines important issues, and connects the various communities that make up state government.”

If they are, in fact, “defining important issues” and influencing the political landscape of Arizona, they damn well better do their job. If they are truly “the nexus between state government and the public,” they owe it to the public to report the whole story. They can’t be allowed to pick and choose their favorite candidates (or in this case, routinely exclude the one they don’t seem to like) because that’s not fair to the public. Voters deserve to know who their choices are.

These attempts to silence and marginalize candidates like Fryer are nothing new. The same day she turned in her signatures to qualify for the ballot — more than any other Democrat in Arizona, and the only one to collect over 11,000 — a story hit the wire naming Fryer’s opponents as the only Democrats in the race. The original story included one sentence on Fryer: “Another Democrat, Kelly Fryer, has also said she’s running.”

The ABC-affiliate in Tucson — where Fryer has spent the last 5 years growing a social justice organization by 400% — actually deleted any mention of Fryer before running the story. They didn’t call. They didn’t fact-check. They just deleted her. It’s still posted on their website, without a correction.

An Arizona radio station recently did the same thing, inviting Fryer’s primary opponents for a forum on education. Read her hard-hitting yet humorous take on her blog.

Photo from Kelly Fryer’s campaign blog

We the people deserve — and must demand — better.

I appreciate the role of the traditional news media and I am sympathetic to their struggles. As someone who spent years working at a newspaper group, I know that declining revenues and circulation have left outlets understaffed and cut to the bone. But that is no excuse for intentional exclusion.

Many newspapers, TV and radio stations in rural Arizona have interviewed Kelly Fryer. Some of them have a staff as small as 2 or 3 people, yet they make time because it’s important. These folks are serving the people, not their powerful friends. If they can do it in Globe, Yuma, Pinetop, Wilcox, and Sedona, why can’t Phoenix and Tucson figure it out?