State Sen. Jack Harper (R-Surprise!), the subject of my previous post on this topic (and last year's winner), is 2nd Runner Up.
Tonight's subject, State Rep. John Kavanagh (R-LD8), is 1st Runner Up.
He's a real 'up-and-comer' - as an incoming freshman legislator a year ago, he was an almost totally unknown quantity and was unranked.
What we did know a year ago was that he came from a district (north Scottsdale) that is known for sending socially moderate, pro-business Republicans to the lege (i.e. -Sen. Carolyn Allen and Rep. Michele Reagan.) In addition, it was known that he was a retired police officer and current college program head (Scottsdale Community College.)
A year ago, expectations...hopes, anyway...were that while he was a loyal Republican, his careers as a public servant and educator would give him an understanding of the damage that blind ideology can wreak upon public service and infrastructure, and that he might pass that understanding on to a couple of his caucus-mates.
What a difference a year makes.
Let's look at his 'rabid ideologue' credentials -
He hates immigrants with the passion of a Pearce or Tancredo -
He is the sponsor or cosponsor of seven anti-immigrant bills (and counting), operates an anti-immigrant website called ProtectAZBorder.com (Google it if you want to look at it; I'm not going to link to it), and he has an anti-immigrant radio show on KFHX 1620 AM airing Fridays at 8 a.m. (I think it's a low power station based in Fountain Hills, but it streams its audio. Google it if interested.)
Coverage of some of his public expressions against immigrants here.
He's anti-public education -
He's sponsored or cosponsored seven bills that undermine public education, from a bill that makes permanent the corporate tax credit for donations school tuition organizations (STOs) for private and charter schools (HB2098) to barring the assessment of development fees to pay for school construction or maintenance (SB1138).
...He's not unusual in this regard - most of the Republican caucus in the lege works against public ed; however, very few actually work in public ed at the same time. Isn't it interesting that someone who works for a publicly-funded school (SCC) is dedicated to undermining the viability of public education?
He's a fiscally irresponsible (but oh-so-fervent) anti-tax crusader -
He has sponsored or cosponsored five bills that would decrease the state's revenues when it's already laboring under a budget deficit that exceeds a billion dollars. Perhaps he believes that the state can balance its budget with a voluntary tax (HB2339).
31 other Republicans have signed on to HB2339; apparently, they hope that the average citizen will step in to pick up the revenue slack while not noticing that the state's revenue problems were exacerbated by those same Republicans when they forced through yet another huge tax cut for corporations.
Highlights of some of his recent utterings and press coverage -
He wants to balance the state's budget on the backs of needy students.
From the Sierra Vista Herald (January 10, 2008) -
The proposal Wednesday by Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, would require universities to charge students at least 40 percent of what it costs to attend the schools. Now, some students can get fullride scholarships, including room and board, while others get a major percentage of their tab picked up. Kavanagh said the current policy essentially amounts to those without a college degree subsidizing the education of those who will get one.
And if you don't already see his plan as a carefully planned attack on financially-needy poor students (in the name of the state's own financial needs, of course), his proposal would exempt students on academic or athletic scholarships.
Or how about this gem, from the AZ Republic's Political Insider (aka - Plugged In) (the entry is quoted in its entirety because the entire entry *is* a quote) -
"Can we do that to prevent the decimation of our forests, the herniation of our postal workers and the pillaging of our budget?" - Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, asking Secretary of State Jan Brewer if her office could save money by sending ballot information electronically, instead of through the U.S. mail.
In case this isn't clear (somebody should take his thesaurus away, right now! :) ), let me clarify - he wants to use the state's budget problems to disenfranchise those who aren't Web users.
Why doesn't he just say what he really means? "Elderly folks who haven't adapted to an online world yet - you don't need to know about the ballot. You've already voted enough in your lifetimes. On election day, you just get in the way of busier, more useful people anyway. Poor people who can't afford web access - Just get to work and quit wasting time on civic niceties like informed voting."
What elevates Kavanagh about the rest of the Republican caucus (and above 2nd Runner Up Jack Harper) in the race for 2008 Legislative Loon isn't that he's a raving ideologue and frothing-at-the-mouth bigot (most of them are both).
It's the fact that he *is* well-spoken, well-educated, and highly intelligent, and quite capable of crafting and pushing well-thought out and responsible bills. He can even "work across the aisle" on some good bills (i.e. - HB2396, Steve Farley's ban on texting while driving, HB2557, a bill that specifies that schools cannot reduce or eliminate PE, music, or art instruction to meet academic standards in required subjects).
He's the 1st Runner Up because he's capable of being better. He could be a dedicated and hard-working legislator who could be disagreed with on policy issues (he *is* a Republican after all :) ), yet could be respected for at least trying to bring an air of intelligence and professionalism to his job.
Instead, he's just Loon in professional attire, nothing more than a polished Kool-Aid drinker.
...Next up - the Winner!
Of course, most regular readers can guess who that's going to be... :))
Hint: Even without the rest of his resume, the whole 'guns in schools' proposal (SB1214) put him over the top.
Not that he hasn't always been "over the top..."