Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Thank you, Senate Republicans

This is the second, less gentle, smack talk post (I meant to do this over the weekend, but work sort of intruded... :) )

...In the waning hours of this year's legislative session, the Arizona Chapter of the Flat Earth Society caved in the Center for Arizona Policy and the other ideological bullies in their party when they voted to send a ban on same-sex marriage to November's ballot.

All sorts of legislative arm-twisting, shenanigans, and outright rule-breaking were used to bring the measure to the floor and force its passage and referral to the fall ballot.

Let's be clear on one thing - the measure is spiteful, petty, and vindictive and should be opposed by anyone with a moral center, a shred of humanity, and a soul.

Having said all that, there's a silver lining to Friday's debacle.

They've now thoroughly pissed off and motivated a voting bloc that overwhelmingly votes Democratic.

The heretofore fairly well-behaved wingers in the lege, or at least heretofore ineffective (more on that point in a moment), hadn't done much harm this session.

Lots of preening and posturing could be seen, and bellowing and bloviatingcould be heard, but they never could quite muster the votes necessary to push their anti-everything agenda of ballot measures (doing an end-run around the Governor's veto pen).

Unlike, say, in 2006, when they placed 8 measures on that fall's ballot, most of which were of the anti-immigrant or anti-education. Note: Prop 107, the anti-same sex marriage measure on the ballot that year, was placed there by initiative petition.

Guess it was easier this time around to get 16 Senators and 35 Representatives to sign on rather than go out and gather >230,000 signatures. Probably cheaper, too - they spent more than $1,000,000 in 2006.

Of course, that election in 2006 with the anti-same sex marriage question is the same election that brought some voices of sanity to the lege, leading to, or at least contributing to, the wingers' ineffectiveness in 2007 and 2008.

There just wasn't quite enough of them to work their hate with their usual glib, saccharin-tongued ease.

As evidenced by Friday's vote in the Senate, they still have some sway in the lege, but it's much less than in sessions past, and they had to work a *lot* harder to wield the influence they had remaining.

To sum up, they've motivated the Democratic Party base and a large bloc of independent voters in Arizona to a degree not seen since...

2006, the last really bad year for Republicans in AZ.

If Barack Obama actually beats McCain in AZ, or if the Dems take control of one or both chambers of the state lege, the Reps should look back at the ballot measure and their zeal and ruthlessness in railroading it through when parceling out the blame.

While I won't predict either of those outcomes at this time (still too much of an uphill battle for the lege), I do have one prediction - while the CD8 campaigns will play out over the summer and into the fall, for all practical purposes, Tim Bee's quest to unseat Gabrielle Giffords is over.

In CD8, only a relatively moderate Republican like Jim Kolbe has a chance of winning (not that Kolbe was actually a moderate) but with his behavior in railroading through SCR1042, Tim Bee has painted himelf as being an extremeist a la Randy Graf.

11 of the 16 Senators who voted for SCR1042 are facing general election challenges (a couple are termed out, one is facing only a primary challenge, or two are totally unchallenged in their quests for reelection). All of their challengers deserve support, but none more so than Robert Boehlke, the Democratic challenger to Jack Harper in LD4. Tim Bee may have been the conductor on this railroad, but Harper was the engineer driving the train.

Harper's a complete tool, brazen ideological thug and utter loon, which would be fine if he only impacted his own district (then it would a problem for the voters there, not the rest of us).

Unfortunately, he's hurting the entire state now, and deserves to be turned out of office.

What they did wasn't just petulant, it abominable. However, it may not be the end of the world - a measure that was put on the ballot to raise their own voter turnout may have an even stronger effect on the turnout of Democrats and Independents.

Pico at Wild Chihuahas has some great coverage on this issue.


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