Health plan in faceoff in Flagstaff

ric Betz
Supporters and opponents of Obamacare square off in front of the offices of Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick in Flagstaff on Friday. The conservative group Americans For Prosperity has been airing television ads and organizing rallies to highlight Kirkpatrick’s support of the health care bill.(Eric Betz/Arizona Daily Sun)l

January 24,2014
By ERIC BETZ Sun Staff Reporter

Photo gallery: Dueling Obamacare rallies at Kirkpatrick's office

Dueling Affordable Care Act rallies were held in front of the offices of U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick in downtown Flagstaff on Friday.

The conservative group Americans for Prosperity used robocalls to get about 25 locals to show up at Wheeler Park at noon for the march.

But the calls also alerted supporters of the congresswoman, who showed up in nearly equal numbers with signs protesting AFP and its connection to the billionaire Koch Brothers.

And although many of the anti-Obamacare signs came up from Phoenix with the organizers, the protesters were not imported.

Flagstaff resident Stuart Marks said he came out because he agrees with AFP’s position on the healthcare bill — he’d like to see it repealed.

“I would like Ann (Kirkpatrick) to reconsider her acceptance of Obamacare,” he said. “The people who truly need health care aren’t getting it. Our rates have gone up. Deductibles have gone up.”

Marks said he isn’t sure what he’d like to replace the ACA, but he is afraid the damage done to the insurance companies can’t be undone.

Flagstaff resident Robert Otto said that he’d also like to see Obamacare repealed.
“I believe in what (Americans for Prosperity) is doing,” Otto said, saying he knows people whose insurance rates have gone up because of the Affordable Care Act. “A lot of people have lost insurance.”


But a nearly equal number of people showed up to protest the AFP demonstration.

“I came out to support the demonstration against AFP,” said Flagstaff resident Joe Bader. “They’re the most reactionary group in the country today.”

Coconino Community College student Clayton Pilcher, 19, said he came out to support Ann Kirkpatrick and Obama

care on Friday, but added that he was also happy to see people participating in the democratic process.

“I’m going to be president someday, so I hope people stay interested,” he said.
The Flagstaff Police Department also arrived, telling both sides to stop using amplified bullhorns, as it was considered disturbing the peace. Activists from both sides continued yelling unamplified chants like “Obama lied, people died,” and “Tax the Koch brothers.”

The Flagstaff rally was just one of many that AFP has organized across the country, highlighting Democratic lawmakers who have supported the health care bill. They have also rolled out heavy advertising early in this election year.
AFP has already spent more than $1 million funding television attack ads targeting Kirkpatrick.


Shane Wikfors, director of outreach for AFP Arizona, said that Friday’s rally was building on those ads. After the protests, organizers for the group planned to go door-to-door in Flagstaff with iPads finding out “who’s with us and who needs more education.”

The group’s efforts also drew the attention of the Kirkpatrick campaign on Friday, who sent out a blast email asking for contributions to fight the ads.

“The Koch brothers have launched a $650,000 blitz all across Arizona,” the campaign blast read. “Each day we let these attacks go unanswered, the Tea Party’s chances of winning this race grow larger and larger.”