Sam Steiger

[It is] an irrefutable fact of life that the elected official is regarded by those who elect him as capable of the most flagrant dishonor. – Rep. Sam Steiger

Sam Steiger died this week. Steiger served in Congress from 1967-1977, and also did time in the legislature as well as a term as Prescott mayor later in his life.

His career in federal office ended with a race for the United States Senate. As gawdawful ugly as Arizona politics is these days, it would be hard to equal the naked anti-semitism thrown Steiger’s way by John Conlan’s campaign in that primary.

Steiger was considered pretty far right when he was in office, even getting called a bomb thrower by Stewart Udall. He earned a zero from Americans for Democratic Action, but his support for reproductive rights and the ERA would likely earn him the RINO designation these days.

It would be silly to button hole the guy as anything though, except if “curmudgeonly” is considered an ideology. His trip through Arizona politics led him to a run for governor as a Libertarian, a tumultuous time as Evan Mecham’s chief of staff and a surprisingly conservationist term as mayor of Prescott.

Go figure.

Oh, don’t forget those burros he shot. It was self defense. Can’t let anyone forget that.

Happy Birthday

Yesterday was the 90th birthday of former Governor Rose Mofford.

Mofford served as governor after the impeachment of Evan Mecham, becoming the first woman to serve in that office. Interestingly, we’ve only had one male governor in the years since she served.

Mofford is descended from Croats who had migrated to the mining communities of Arizona. In celebration of her birthday, the Croatian national soccer team delivered a beating to Ireland yesterday.


More and more attention has been paid to the serious/satirical secession movement. Although Paul Eckerstrom’s Facebook group trying to start a “Baja Arizona” movement has been getting a lot of attention, I’d like to point out that my brother has had a similar Facebook group that has been active for several years.

Don’t worry, Mad Viking, we still love you.

The attention Eckerstrom and his group have been getting is gratifying in some ways, since it has become a good way for us bajaärizonenses to express our frustrations with the neanderthals that have been leading our state. Whether this will result in an actual state being created…I’m a bit dubious.

By the way, the true instigator of this whole thing must be recognized: attorney Hugh Holub. Holub first suggested Baja Arizona shortly after the election of Evan Mecham, the first in a series of incidents that made us in Southern Arizona question the political maturity of our friends to the North. His bumper stickers were seen throughout Southern Arizona and I even remember maps of the “new state” wheat pasted near the U of A campus (Holub would never do such a thing, of course).

Holub has maintained a Free Baja Arizona page as part of his Frumious Bandersnatch site. The Bandersnatch is a satirical newspaper he published (on yellow paper) during his years at the U of A, and has been occasionally spotted in the time since.

By the way, I’ve been selling Free Baja Arizona bumper stickers on this site’s store for quite a while. They lack the four-color presentation of Holub’s from years ago, but they do the job.

Bob Usdane

Bob Usdane, who served as president of the Arizona State Senate from 1989-1991, has passed away.

That was a particular dicey time in Arizona politics, particularly within the Republican party. After having to work as majority leader during the impeachment of Evan Mecham, Usdane became Senate president with his party split between Mecham loyalists (the “Mechamites”) and more moderate Republicans. Add to that the AZScam scandal that came toward the end of his term. It is no wonder why he got out of politics for a few years before resurfacing as a candidate for Scottsdale Mayor earlier last decade.

A long time capitol watcher I talked to said that Usdane was always outgoing and friendly. He could be a bit overly cautious in his politics, but one railbird I spoke to gave him credit for working with Democrats on what became the AHCCCS program.

Me Being a Liberal Bedwetter Again

I heard an actuality this morning on KUAZ where Jan Brewer complained about the unions “importing” people to protest against SB 1070. So, she’s telling us that opposition to 1070 is not being generated by locals, but by nefarious all-powerful labor unions (and probably ACORN, they only want you to think that they closed up shop) conspiring from underground bunkers right across the state line. There they are…watch out!

This is, of course, because labor unions have been so powerful in Arizona as of late.

I’m curious about what she’s trying to imply here. Yep, opponents of SB 1070 are a minority of Arizonans overall (but are an overwhelming majority of Hispanic citizens). By saying that opposition to 1070 is phonied up, is she saying that all proper Arizonans unanimously support the law? When she looks at folks who don’t support 1070, does she see Arizonans or “imports”? If she doesn’t think of people who disagree with her policies as “true” Arizonans, what are we supposed to think about her taking the concerns of the rest of us seriously?

It’s Evan Mecham’s “good people of Arizona” all over again.

It’s That One Peter Gabriel Album Where His Face is Melting on the Cover

I’ve been asked by two R-Cubed fanaticos why I haven’t commented on Humberto Lopez’s recall movement, which he will be kicking off today. Well, I’ve been busy with other politics, okay?

It’ll be interesting to see who Lopez manages to get on board with this. Part of the trouble with recalls is that because of the way the election is structured (there is no pirmary, and the election is by plurality), it makes it difficult to be successful unless the incumbent is really, really disliked. For example, think back to the recall of County Assessor Alan Lang, who only managed 8% of the vote. With numbers like that, it didn’t matter how many serious candidates were running against him splitting the vote.

Even with the troubles of the current council, does anyone think that any of them couldn’t manage at least 40% of the vote? That would likely be enough against a field of two or three candidates running against them. What organizers of the recall have to do is agree on a candidate and run a campaign that makes it clear that their person is “the opposition.” This is complicated by the fact that every person who has ever imagined his or herself running for office will be thinking of filing to run, since there is no partisan primary as a hoop to jump through. The aborted 1988 recall of Evan Mecham featured Alice Cooper in addition to several “establishment” candidates, for example.

The contradictory complaints against the council will make it hard for opponents to agree on a slate of candidates. Look at one of the big issues from the last election: Lopez was prominently against Proposition 200 while he will likely be counting on the support of the Jon Justice-TPOA alliance for his recall effort. Business organizations like the Tucson Chamber of Commerce may want to run a candidate against say, Karin Uhlich, but conservative activists led by Joe Higgins are trying to stage a rebellion against the Chamber (It’s worth remembering that there was a split between the Chamber and SAHBA in the last election too). How are they going to coalesce for a group of candidates?

All of this assumes that they will get the signatures in the first place.

Arizona Loses a Record

Carl HaydenQuick, who was the longest serving member of Congress? Well, up until this week, you could have proudly mentioned Carl Trumbull Hayden of Tempe. As of this week, however, the good Senator Hayden has lost that distinction to Robert Byrd of West Virginia.

Hayden served a term as Sheriff of Maricopa County, then ran for Arizona’s lone congressional seat in the first election when we gained statehood. He went on to be re-elected to that seat until 1926, when he took on the unpopular Senator Ralph Cameron. He managed to snag a coveted seat on the Appropriations Committee as one of his first assignments, his skill at delivering pork to Arizona made him inassailable in elections and helped solidify his legacy. He managed to serve in that seat until 1969. His last twelve years in office, he served as President Pro Tempore of the Senate, making him third in line for the presidency from Dwight Eisenhower’s second term until Lyndon Johnson left office.

His time representing Arizona in Congress lasted from the years before World War I until the height of the Vietnam War, from . If you want to get an idea of how many political generations he spanned: the man he defeated, Cameron, was first sworn in as Arizona’s Congressional delegate around the time that Hayden’s successor, Barry Goldwater, was born (Goldwater had left the Senate for a time because of his presidential run, so he wasn’t exactly a spring chicken by that point).

The people he defeated in his elections give you a look at Arizona’s 20th Century political history: Thomas Campbell (the second Governor of Arizona, depending on how you reckon that), A. A. Worsley (the attorney for the Bisbee Deportees), Emma Guild, (the first woman from Arizona to run for federal office, only two years after the passage of the 19th Amendment), and, in his last run for re-election, Evan Mecham. My Grandfather, who had been born around the turn of the last century, had Hayden as either his Representative or Senator for his entire voting career.

There is a story, probably apocryphal, of John F. Kennedy encountering Hayden after Kennedy made a speech. Kennedy said to Hayden, reportedly, “I bet you’ve seen a lot of changes in your time here.” Hayden, the story goes, said, “Yes, we didn’t used to let freshman senators speak.” The Pima County Democratic Party headquarters features a large photograph of Hayden, Kennedy and a young, crew cut sporting Mo Udall.

Our Local Angle

There is now starting to be some attention paid to Glenn Beck’s revival of the book The 5,000 Year Leap. On his recommendation this “history” (and I use the term loosely) has become something of a best seller decades after its initial publication.

The author of the book was right-wing fabulist W. Cleon Skousen. If you want an idea of how much of a wingnut he was, J. Bracken Lee (the infamously ultra-conservative Salt Lake City Mayor and Utah Governor) fired him as police chief for, his word, “Gestapo” tactics. In addition, J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI kept a file on him and let it be known that the they didn’t endorse his claims about communism and two otherwise conservative Mormon scholars criticized the shaky intellectual basis for his work. In 1979, the President of the LDS made a conscious effort to distance the church from Skousen.

Here is the fun part for you longer term Arizonenses. Remember when there was that controversy about Evan Mecham endorsing a text book that used the term “Pickaninny”? Guess who wrote that book? Yep, W. Cleon Skousen. As it turns out, Mecham was a big fan of Skousen’s work too, which gives you an idea about Beck’s world view.

Are We STILL Going On About This?

Terry GoddardMany of you have been reading about the latest row between Jan Brewer and Terry Goddard. Those of us that have been watching Arizona politics for a while have seen this show before (Evan Mecham versus Bob Corbin, Fife Symington versus Grant Woods) and have also seen how often governors seem to come out on the losing side of these arguments. Governors want attorneys general that will do their bidding, even though the attorney general is seperately elected. This independence is better in the long run, since it enables an attorney general the freedom to give what is often the best kind of legal advice: saying no.

A slightly different but related drama is going on with Dean Martin. Because of his unhappiness, his allies are running a bill through the legislature to allow Martin and other agency heads to hire their own counsel and not be represented by the attorney general’s office. The trouble is, as some observers point out, this could lead to a situation where different teams of lawyers from different parts of state government would be suing each other. This might be some part of a bailout for law firms in Phoenix. Hey, if the legislature can pay Ken Starr all that money…

Here is the most irksome thing: this is still over…wait for it…the Flores case. This case has gone on so long that plaintiff Miriam Flores, who was an elementary school student in Nogales when it was filed, is an undergrad at the University of Arizona. Maybe Tom Horne, Brewer and the legislature want to drag this out long enough to give her a chance to go to law school and try it herself.

NB – One of the other families in the Flores case are Rosa Rzeslawski and her son, Mario…that’s right…Polish-Mexicans.

Irony Board

On last night’s Rachel Maddow Show, Maddow did a short bit on how Janet Napolitano’s impeding promotion will leave Arizona with a Republican governor. Maddow noted that we should learn to pay attention to rules about gubernatorial succession.

Of course, before a snarky little comment like that, Dr. Maddow should take a look at the recent history of our state. Durring her (and my) lifetime, we’ve gotten lessons in the rules about gubernatorial succession four times, and are about to have a fifth. One of those four times, when Bruce Babbitt became governor, we got a lesson in “what happens if the Seceretary of State can’t be governor?”

Back in 1988, when Evan Mecham was impeached, there was a great deal of controversy about Rose Mofford becoming governor, since she was of a different party than Mecham. During one appearance by Mofford, a car dealer that raised money for Mecham decided to strip the state seal from Mofford’s lectern.

In the aftermath of that, conservative legislators started pushing for Arizona to have a Lieutenant Governor. Yep, this meant that fiscal conservatives who see government waste everywhere wanted to create a highly paid position in state government with few responsibilities except to check the newspaper for gubernatorial illnesses and cabinet openings (Okay, this isn’t the only thing that they would check the newspaper for: they could do the Jumble). They even managed to get a referendum on the ballot back in 1994, which was defeated by a nearly 2 to 1 margin.

Matthew Benson over at the Republic dug up an old op-ed by one of the people pushing for the Lieutenent Governor amendment. In it, the author complained that being Secretary of State doesn’t qualify you for Governor, and that the Secretary of State becoming governor “frustrates the will of voters.”

we have seen what happens when the governorship is thrust upon an unwilling and untrained secretary of state, no matter how sincere or well-intentioned. Arizona deserves more than just a caretaker governor.

The writer of that: Jan Brewer.

(Of course, it is also worth noting that the “caretaker” she was referring to here was Mofford. Does she really think that Mecham’s tumultuous half-term was preferable to Mofford’s “caretaker” administration?)

Oh, and the article ends with Brewer, once again, claiming she’s made no plans about what she would do as governor:

Much has been made of the potential policy shifts that could come with a Brewer governorship. In her op-ed article, she wrote that “Arizonans deserve to have a governor that will continue the same general policies as the one (voters) elected.” Does she still believe it?

“I’m not pledging anything,” Brewer said. “(Napolitano’s departure) hasn’t happened, and I’m not going there.”

Nope, she hasn’t thought about reversing any of Napolitano’s policies. Sure.