Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Day of the long knives in the AZ Senate

Not sure if it will really change the dynamic of the Senate once the Republicans get over their pique at the Governor and return to attacking the people of Arizona instead of each other...

From's Political Insider -
Senate President Bob Burns made a rare trip to his future caucus room, aka the Senate pressroom, to announce changes among Senate Republicans.

Thayer Verschoor is out as president pro tem, replaced by Sen. Steve Pierce, R-Prescott. Majority Whip Pamela Gorman is off the Rules Committee, replacement TBD.

"This is a team effort," Burns said of leading the Senate. "And I think I can improve that team effort."

Last week, the "team" tanked one in front of its QB/would-be puppeteer when they (Gorman, Verschoor, Chuck Gray) voted against the referral of a sales tax hike to the ballot in the Senate Rules Committee.

A referral that Burns had agreed to with the Governor as part of a budget deal. The vote killed that particular deal and was one of the main reasons that the lege needed a 31-hour day to finish up its business...well, "finish" it until the Governor vetoed the budget package that the lege *did* send to the Governor.

I doubt that it's a coincidence that Steve Pierce was the Senator elevated to "President Pro-Tem" - he was the member who called out a certain unnamed member (OK, it was Russell Pearce :) ) for taking a powder during some pivotal votes during this week's special session.

Gray and Gorman retain their positions as Majority Leader and Whip, respectively, as they were elected to those positions by the entire Republican caucus, not appointed by Burns.

At this point, I expect that after the budget is finally completed (progress has been made, but there is still a gaping maw of a deficit to address), Burns will have to finish cleaning house on Rules (Gray out) and using what rewards he has to offer in order to shore up his own position.

When his entire leadership group turned against him, it opened up the possibility that the Rep caucus will choose to go in a different direction with a different Senate president.

If that happens, the split in the Republican caucus could cause one of the factions to turn to the Democratic caucus for support.

Hmmmm... :))


Eli Blake said...

Although I certainly couldn't care less who the Republicans appoint as their leadership, I believe that Burns did what he had to do:

He negotiated a comprehensive deal with the Governor last week and got Gorman and Veschoor to agree to it.

They then backstabbed him, which is why we are where we are right now.

A captain who regains control after a mutiny has no choice-- he must punish the mutineers, or else he is weak in the eyes of the crew and can only look forward to another mutiny.

Burns then had to take action against Gorman and Verschoor.

Reminds one of Stalin's old strategy: Purge them before they purge you.

cpmaz said...

I've got no arguments with your point...but I'm still going to enjoy the sight of Republicans beating up on their own for a while.

The key will be the rest of the Rep caucus - will they support Burns and strip Gorman (and Gray) of their elected leadership posts?

If they don't, it'll send a message to Burns to update his resume; if they do, it will probably create some seriously hard feelings (and at least a couple of factions) in the Senate GOP.

I think it will stay quiet during the rest of the special session (I'm not guaranteeing that, however :) ), but next January should be interesting to watch.

Anonymous said...

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