Arizona’s Steve-O

Steve OwensI spotted Steve Owens at the State Committee meeting last week. He was one of four possible candidates for Congressional District 1 that was there, or at least had some sort of presence.

Owens is still seriously considering a go at the race. He thinks that he still has time to make a decision and is looking to make his intentions known in September. He talked about still wanting to discuss it a bit more with his family (his sons are now teenagers) and he’s got a challenging and well paying job as director of the Department of Environmental Quality that he’d have to give up.

Owens mentioned that back when he ran in 1996 he carried the rural counties of then District 6. These counties form the bulk of the current District 1. In that race, what saved J. D. Hayworth was votes from the heavilly Republican slice of Maricopa county in the District (it is not in the current District 1). Hayworth’s wider victory margin in 1998 can be blamed on low Democratic turnout that year, as Owens still carried the rural areas in total, with only bare narrow losses in Gila, Greenlee and Navajo counties.

After my conversation, it looks like Owens is still in “Making Plans to Make Plans” mode. Given his job, he needs to be circumspect. But it sounds to me like he is going to make a go of it.

44 thoughts on “Arizona’s Steve-O

  1. I’ve worked for Steve Owens long ago…his leadership is stellar. CD 1 voters would be lucky to have his representation.

  2. Well, it’s obvious from my earlier posts that I think he’s is the strongest candidate we Dems could field. He has the necessary background, network and experience necessary to win. Once he decides, he’ll be a juggernaut that will he hard to stop.

  3. I have known Steve since his first run in 1996 and I cannot think of a better candidate to run, and win, in this district. He’s an A-lister who knows the issues and people of CD1 better than anyone else and he has the connections to raise the money this race is going to take to win.

    Owens 08!

  4. Owens is the real deal and is our best chance to take back CD-1. He will dominate in the rural, exurban areas that Democrats need to win in seats like CD-1 and his resume and experience will give Arizonan’s a strong voice in Washington.

  5. I’d still think that Kirkpatrick is a stronger candidate. Not that Owens’ past experience winning votes in the district should be discounted, but let’s be honest– it is ten years between his last election cycle and this one. Kirkpatrick has proven she can win, and done so much more recently.

  6. I want the Democrats to pick up and hold CD1 – that said, of those in the running Owens seems like the candidate who the rural moderates that swing the district will find the most appealing.

    What plays in Flagstaff and Sedona doesn’t play in Yavapai or Gila counties, as Ellen Simon found out last November.

  7. As stated earlier, there is more than Coconino County in that district. Steve Owens’ record of helping water infrastructure, water quality issues, and being able to keep up with the times changing in rural Arizona are excellent. He has given them the attention they deserve. He would do the same representing CD1 in Congress.

  8. Steve is already a well-regarded leader in the district and will be the front-runner the day he (hopefully) enters the race. He can unite a broad coalition across the district and deliver the leadership so desperately needed in CD1.

    @Eli_Blake: I understand and respect what you’re saying but I’m not sure Ann is ready to compete at this level. The money/organization/strategy requirements for a race like this are different than anything she’s done previously.

  9. Steve’s moderate positions and long history in this region make him far and away the best candidate, both Dem or GOP, in this district.

  10. Mr. Owens has done a decent job at ADEQ, and would be a serious contender for the D1 seat. He should go for it, as should other qualified and motivated Dems. Corrupt Renzi has to go!

  11. Any word on if he is planning on moving his family from Scottsdale to the district he hopes to represent?? Come on guys, what most of you phoenix folks don’t get is that, while he may be popular on the governor’s staff, he isn’t well liked by many here in the district because he is a phoenix guy! how come he wants to represent a district he feels doesn’t have good enough schools or community for his kids and wife? that is why he lost last time and that is why people here are tired of carpetbaggers telling us about our issues. we’ve had too many people from phoenix (and cleveland and i guess now tennessee) run here and LOSE! we want a representative from cd1! just look at the field now, shanker, titla, owens, all from phoenix. kirkpatrick knows us, knows the native american issues and is incredibly popular out there. owens plays well in gila, but he will NOT carry coconino and apache counties which is where a primary will be won or lost. think about that before you jump on the owens bandwagon…

  12. I have a question for Renata:

    How is it that Owens has a long history in the district? He has never even LIVED THERE!!!! Have you seen Kirkpatrick’s bio?? She was born in the White Mountains and has lived in the district her entire life! How can anyone say they have a better history in the district or a better understanding of the issues than her? They aren’t just the issues of the district with her, they are her issues too! Get a clue guys, Owens can’t win here. I won’t support him, thats for sure.

  13. Danielle/Frank – That’s funny, how much you prize something like an address. Well, if its addresses you want, then its addresses you get, cause the man has a residence in the district, and has had for years. Not only has he delievered for the residents of the district over the years, but given the history of candidates running in the district, he certainly has the right to claim the time he has spent there with his family over many years, more time than some candidates who have run in the past, and CERTAINLY more time than the current congressman. Focus on the big picture people, (as the GOP did years ago in 2002) who can beat a well-funded and heeled GOP candidate and who can keep the seat in a rural district with wide appeal? Resist the temptation to be political dem party neophites! Only Owens can match a well-heeled GOP contender.

    Owens’ environmental credentials are second to none, his knowledge and depth of rural CD 1 issues are equally impressive and finally, his ability to raise the kinds of money necessary to make that seat competative in the fall do not compare to any D candidate in the mix, present OR past. This is going to be a rare opportunity for the AZ democratic party to pick up this seat. Lets see if they and others have the sense and foresight to see the light as well…that may be, ironically, Owens’ biggest challenge.

  14. It is to bad that not all government offices are required to resign to run. You can say that Owens is doing a good job at AZDEQ, but it looks like he hasn’t been around much, since he has been going around “not campaigning.”

    By the way having an address in a community and being a part of a community are two very different concepts. One which the voters care about and take note.

  15. All excellent points and observations; however, it appears that the nay-sayers against Owens running are lacking apparent experience and a sense of history regarding the Democratic party in Arizona. Steve (…along with Janet & Jim) helped build the Party into what it is today, vibrant and strong. He’s the former state chairman of the party, “Flagstaff” precinct committeeman, “Flagstaff” State committee member, “Flagstaff ” party fundraiser, etc. None of the other candidates can make such claims.

    Steve probably would be residing full-time in Flagstaff if he had not answered the call of duty by the Governor to serve in her cabinet.

    Also, please remember that Flagstaff is not reflective of the majority of the district. It is generally believed that this race will be decided in either Yavapai or Pinal counties — diverse and contrasting communities that will need a candidate who will appeal to them all, not just certain areas or ethnicities.

    As “Rico” pointed out, let’s focus on the big picture and that is making sure that CD1 elects a Democrat this next go around.

  16. So why not focus on the incredibly strong candidate that has announced her candidacy and is looking to truly represent the district and not simply BUY her seat. Sure Ann knows that it takes lots of money and she can raise that money. Anyone who thinks she can’t doesn’t know her and hasn’t seen her work ethic. Plus she is a party favorite who will have the financial and organizational backing of EMILYS list. If Owens thinks he can come in here again with national funding and phoenix funding and win a primary he is dead wrong. And this time he will be facing a very strong, well-funded female democrat who has a LIFETIME of experience in the district and who has the strongest base of all the contenders (Coconino and Apache counties hold enough votes to win a primary by themselves). Sure Owens can probably raise a good amount of money but lets face it, money is important but when he and Kirkpatrick will both have money what will be the deciding factor? Probably something as “unimportant” as where the candidate resides. I’m sorry if you don’t agree, but if you would ask 10 people who live in the district, 9 would choose a local over a phoenix resident in this next election. Owens is from Tennessee, he’s lost 2 elections, he lives in Scottsdale and he looks goofy and uncomfortable when he wears his boots around cd1. Ann is from McNary (in the White Mountains), she has WON 2 elections (against Navajo opponents to represent the rez) and she lives in Flagstaff. You guys are jumping on the wrong train, and if you don’t believe me, then ask Steve why he’s shopping the AG race at the same time as this one.

  17. Not sure where you are getting your information, but steve is certainly not shopping an AG race. Alas, a lost cause with you as one of those types of dems that can’t see the bigger picture. Emily’s list? are you serious? Um, hows about a little Lynn Rivers / John Dingle to refresh your memory as to what happens when Emily’s list gets involved…

    Owens for CD 1.

  18. I brought up earlier a concern that the voters who make up much of this district, more specifically the more socially moderate Minority and socially conservative LDS communities respectively, would be ignored by a Kirkpatrick candidacy and was hoping that these concerns would be ameliorated.

    It has been suggested here (see above) that the mighty EMILY’s List financial juggernaut and the subsequent flood of EMILY’s List staff and mailers and the entire EMILY’s List model is Kirkpatrick’s tac. Their model, which I would guess was designed for the suburban swing districts where it has been effective in the past, is ill-suited to a district where even the Democrats are uncomfortable or hesitant about Choice and where social issues have been effective wedge issues for the Republicans in the past. It would seem that bringing in and trumpeting EMILY’s List as the defining part of her campaign (as many BUT CERTAINLY NOT ALL EMILY’s List candidates have done in the past) is handing a free gift to the Republicans in a district like CD 1.

    INDEPENDENTLY of any conversation about Choice or about emphasizing it and being honest about it as a policy position, etc., it causes me to question Kirkpatrick’s political judgment if she is indeed going to use the EMILY’s List model of emphasizing social liberalism (with the subtext being tolerating neoliberal economic positions) as a guide for her candidacy in a district where conservative (religiously, not necessarily politically) Catholics and members of the LDS faith may have serious concerns about voting for such positions yet may sympathize with us due to their firsthand experience of rural poverty and its related issues.

    I like Kirkpatrick, and have no reason to think that Owens would be any better of any of this or even that Kirkpatrick is being accurately described here, but would like to know what others think of this and how she will handle the ever-difficult balancing act of taking help from a constituency that might highlight a position that irks voters.

  19. Please let me preface the following with how much I care for and respect Ann Kirkpatrick but there have been some pretty severe mistakes right at the onset that cannot be overlooked and why we need someone with more experience and discipline like Steve.

    Recently at the Coconino Progressive Dinner, when Ann was asked about her stance on the Iraq War, she stated and I quote “Stay the course”. About half a dozen people visibly gasped and the gentleman that asked the question stormed off (…I was there and I heard it). That’s one mistake.

    Secondly, She severely insulted her legislative seat-mate Albert Tom, by calling him “another Sylvia Laughter” on the floor of the State House no less. Albert is letting his feelings be known on the Navajo Nation. Profoundly and culturally insensitive.

    Thirdly she failed to make a scheduled appearance at a mostly Dine’/Navajo crowd at a forum in Ft. Defiance. The Apache County Chair and Dems are not happy and she is going to need their help to win. Her failure to show up made the “Gallup Independent” which is the most widely read newspaper on the Navajo Nation.

    Next, my friends in the press can’t reach her and she’s not returning calls. Any candidate should know to maintain positive relations with the press.

    I could go on but the rhetoric is heated enough. This is major league hardball and her mistakes are fundamental ones. Ann needs to do better.

    I can understand stumbling out of the gate but if these types of mistakes continue her candidacy is in serious trouble.

    Personally, I’ll take Steve in his boots.

  20. I haven’t been paying much attention to the race, but I heard that she never scheduled that event at ft. defiance. From what I heard from someone at the party, the people organizing it just assumed she would go and so told everyone all the cd1 candidates would be there, and then let her campaign know about it less than a week in advance. I’m sure if any of you know much about campaigns, less than a weeks notice is not enough time for scheduling. One campaign I worked on in AZ had the candidate scheduled out 3 to 4 weeks ahead.

    One other thing, I know for a fact that Ann is for immediate withdrawal of troops. She said it at the State Committee meeting and knowing her, I think your comment that she said she will stay the course is just absurd. Check your facts before you make slanderous statements like this one.

    And people, let’s make sure we separate what some lady from cd1 says about Ann’s campaign from what her campaign strategy is. Just because Danielle is touting EMILY’s list doesn’t mean the campaign is going to be run by them and focus on ultra-liberal policy. We saw emily’s list do very well for Gabby, who won a conservative district with a large rural population who are unsure about choice. I don’t doubt that Ann is pro-choice, but keep in mind she is also a devout Catholic. Please try to separate a person’s comment from a campaign policy.

  21. Tom,

    For the record I’m not one to be slanderous. Ask Ann what she said at that event.

    Also ask Ann and the Apache County Chair about Ft Defiance.

    We must hold candidates accountable for their actions. If she mis-stated something then she needs to say so. They’re many here in Flagstaff that believe that is what she meant.

    Tom, please check your facts before you start casting aspersions. Thanks.

  22. While I cannot speak to Matt’s points as he is better versed in Ann’s apparent gaffes than I, I can speak to emily’s list, and if you think that emily’s list won’t usurp the campaign with its ultra liberal DC based messaging, litmus test endorsing, wide-eyed northeastern liberal ways (see the Becca Sharp’s and Martha McKenna’s of the world) as they did with Elaine Richardson, Lynn Rivers and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, think again.

    You’ll be patting yourselves in the back when all you carry is Flagstaff in the fall and a moderate Republican with BALANCED views and a wide appeal steam rolls over kirkpatrick. In fact, Daneille looks to me like a a-typical republican, taking a page out of Karl Rove’s book and touting the clearly less capable and less qualified candidate, (kirkpatrick) so that the R nominee in the fall doesn’t have to face Owens. How bout it Danielle, who you working for? Sproul? Rove?

  23. @Danielle: You stated, “She (Ann) was born in the White Mountains and has lived in the district her entire life! ”

    It’s my understanding that she lived in Tucson for several years during her time as an attorney south of the Gila. If so, then perhaps she was born in the White Mountains but she certainly has not lived in the district her entire life.

    Regardless, she does have a long history in the district. Yet, it is Owens who has repeatedly delivered for the district. Visit Globe, Safford, Winslow, Flagstaff or the Navajo Nation and ask folks about Owens’ history of leadership. It will quickly become obvious why we are all supporting him, and more importantly, why he is the best chance for Democrats to be victorious in November.

  24. For those of you who want to make the carpetbagger argument again…ask Paul Babbitt and Steve Udall about how far that gets you in the CD 1 race.

  25. Just wanted to respond to Tom’s assertion: “I’m sure if any of you know much about campaigns, less than a weeks notice is not enough time for scheduling. One campaign I worked on in AZ had the candidate scheduled out 3 to 4 weeks ahead.”

    Ummm – as a veteran of many political campaigns right here in Arizona I can say that less than a week’s notice is plenty of time to get an event scheduled if it is politically important to the campaign. While staffers like me love to have everything scheduled out for weeks on end it is pretty typical for a surprise event to come up or something to fall through the cracks, or the candidate insists on attending one thing or another.

    Campaigns are chaotic and ever-changing by nature. Plans are changing week to week, day to day, hour by hour.

    I don’t know the details about the event in question, but if a candidate wanted to be somewhere and had a few days notice, they could have been there.

  26. Ding! OK, all of you go into your corners and take 5. Smoke’em if you got’em. It is very early and let me say whoever the Democratic Candidate is, I will support him, or her. But if Steve decides to enter the race, the candidate will be a him.

    Between Water Quality Improvement Grants, Recycling Grants, approving permits for mines without compromising the environmental integrity of the small towns in Arizona, trying to bring stakeholders together for common goals, and Water Infrastructure Finance Authority Loans, Steve Owens has brought in millions to NE Arizona. And yes, he has voted in Flagstaff the past three elections and employs about 20 full time employees in Northern Arizona just so that Northern Arizona could get the attention it deserves. I could go on, but Steve’s record speaks for itself. I’m sorry to all Ann Kirkpatrick supporters, but Steve has so much more he can run on. If Steve does not decide to run, you can bet on it, I will be out there campaigning for Ann.

  27. I agree. Everyone to your corners.

    Have you read the Republican blogs recently? They are eating each other up. Both Ann and Steve are great folks. I’d love to have either.

    Let’s go into this remembering that, and we will be golden. Don’t count years in the district or some other litmus test of purity. Listen to their stances and support who you think will win and hold the district.


  28. sorry for getting testy earlier. i just think that, with two incredibly qualified candidates who will each be able to raise a boat-load of cash, it is premature to assume one has the advantage over the other. they are each so very different that to assume steve has the advantage because of water and environment issues is assuming too much. also, to assume ann has the advantage because she is a native girl who is well liked and has a great, moderate, record in the house, is also i guess assuming too much. i say we let them campaign it out (if steve gets in) and see where it takes us.

    i guess deep inside i wish steve would stay out because ann has already declared and rather than have her and steve duke it out in a primary spending all their cash to win that which will make them vulnerable in the general, he could run for something like AG (which i think he would be great at and his broad support both in the northern part of the state as well as in phoenix and scottsdale would make him an instant frontrunner). i think it is safe to assume that either ann or steve would win a primary and that whoever wins the primary will win the general. why waste all that time and money in a battle for primary when they can both run for office and win without facing each other?

    thats my humble opinion, sorry if you dont all agree. i just really want to see a dem win my district and a brutal and expensive primary makes me nervous.

  29. Wonderfully stated Danielle. I couldn’t agree more. We’re all justifiably a bit nervous. Thanks to all who engaged in this worthwhile debate, except you Tom (…just kidding).

    However, I am confident that CD1 will be turning blue this next go around.

  30. I’d like to see a candidate from a more diverse background. So, Owens is a two-time loser who doesn’t even live in the district. Yet everyone is bending over backwards to support him? Hmmm.

    He had two chances. Perhaps giving someone else a chance shouldn’t be out of the question.

    Afterall, a guy by the name of Camacho did markedly better than Steve Owens in the same counties.

  31. I believe you may be confused with George Cordova rather than Randy Camacho who ran against Trent Franks over in Maricopa, La Paz and Mohave Counties.

    You make a excellent point about the improving Democratic performance in the outlying counties since Steve ran in that dark period for Democrats known as the 90’s.

  32. It’s been shown consistently for five years in this district that the “carpetbagging” issue is a non-issue. Rick Renzi is a Virginia resident. George Cordova was a Phoenix resident. Fred DuVal, Bruce Whiting and Sam Martinez were all Phoenix residents who pulled in good vote totals in ’02. Besides, Steve owns a residence in Flag and spends as much time in rural Arizona as he does in Phoenix. This is all a bunch of Emily’s List-spewed baloney. Tell me, Dems, do you want to give this seat on a platter to a Ken Bennett or a Kris Mayes or a Bill Konopnicki? With Ann, unfortunately, it would be Karan English Revisited.

  33. I’ve been reluctant to weigh in on this, and I’m agnostic on this whole fight. But, I’d like to point out to Renata that unlike Cordova, DuVal, Martinez and, yes, Owens, Karan English won once. Food for thought.

    Now back to the argument.

  34. Tedski, you are so wise. English did win. And all the people Renata listed LOST. Aside from Renzi, who did a good job of appearing to be a local, nobody wins from Phoenix. And in all honesty, the “carpetbagging” issue obviously isn’t dead. Simon was resented by many for really being from Cleveland. DuVal, Cordova, Martinez and yes, Owens, were all nailed as carpetbaggers both by dems and more importantly by their Republican counterparts. We can assume the same will happen this go around if we toss up another Phoenix guy, especially since ALL the Republican possibles are from the district. I think Danielle made a good point about Owens being great for Attorney General. He has the charisma, connections, and Phoenix residence to make it work.

  35. So EMILY’S LIST is not somehow an ENEMY of progressives? Wow, I must not have received the memo.

    I certainly won’t be helping out a DLC corporate Democrat supposed “moderate.”

  36. the only food for thought about English winning one time was that any Dem would have won that year on Clinton’s coattails and with Goldwater’s endorsement….Look who the GOP nut was she was running against…a corpse would have beaten Doug Wead that year….any other cycle she would have been dead meat like Ann will be.

  37. Oh, come on, Bobby, give me some real proof the carpetbagging issue isn’t dead….Duh…..Renzi in Congress for three terms. He, the biggest carpetbagger in Arizona history.

  38. I see the negativity by the Owens people has started. Tell, me Renata, are you guys going to ever bring up what Owens will do (besides lose because he’s too milquetoast and won’t take a stand) vis-a-vis a POSITIVE agenda?

    Just what has this guy ever done to make his deserve to be a THREE time nominee for Congress? I mean, he’s not Newt Gingrich.

  39. im not trying to libel anyone, but i heard that he ran for congress and lost once before in tennessee or south carolina, is there any truth to that? is there a way for me to check?

  40. I should probably remind you that Owens has been the ONLY dem nominee to even come close to JD prior to being re-districted.

    If you need a positive agenda or a reason for him to run, why don’t you look at his record as ADEQ Director if you want an agenda or a reason. He has been a champion for the district in more ways than ANY DEQ director has ever been. Check your facts “netroots” and blog yourself something useful.

  41. Daneille,

    He has never run for congress in TN or NC or anywhere else in this country, or in any other country or planet (in case anyone wants to try and sell that bit of crazy).

    In 96, Hayworth beat Owens with 48% of the vote, and in 98, with 52%. HARDLY landslide victories and the CLOSEST anyone came to beating Hayworthless prior to re-districting.

  42. Can we at least wait until the man actually announces before fighting over who is the better candidate?

  43. It seems to me that these Dems who are hung up on address are in la/la land. A lot of good the right address did PAUL BABBITT!!! Howard Shanker has worked more in the district than Renzi ever did, has an office, and has a second home in Flagstaff. Dems should nominate the best candidate and then deal with whatever the attack dogs on the other side come up with — trying to anticipate those attacks and let the other side select our candidate for us because we’re afraid of the attacks has been a DISASTER. Same thing is being tossed about with Hillary!

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