Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Republican is driven away by his own party

A Republican candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction, Gary Nine, has withdrawn from the race for his party's nomination.

Normally, I wouldn't write about that - it's a relatively minor office as far as statewide offices go (still has it all over State Mine Inspector, though :) ) and there are still plenty of Rs in that race.

Oh, and literally, I know nothing about Mr. Nine beyond what I've read about his candidacy on his website.

However, being a good partisan blogger, I still checked out his website one last time before deleting it from my bookmarks (I've got hundreds of them, and a chance to winnow one out is not a chance to be missed :) ).

After reading his statement of withdrawal, I was left with two distinct impressions -

As a Democrat, I'm glad there aren't more Republicans like him. When out campaigning for Democratic candidates, it's easy to laud the Dems while highlighting the bad points of the likes of Russell Pearce, Jack Harper, and the rest of the Kool-Aid drinkers in the lege.

As an Arizonan however, I wish all of Arizona's Rs were like him.

From his statement:
One of my strengths is that I am true to my foundational values. I know me and I know what I'm not. I have declared as a Republican Clean Elections candidate but after my experience of the last six months, which includes becoming aware that Arizona's reigning Republican leadership would enjoy seeing the demise of public education, I now know without doubt that I truly can no longer claim to be an Arizona Republican.


The Arizona Legislature is presently composed of a very cohesive group of Democrats, and then there are the Republicans, who are comprised of very few moderates, a majority of conservative Republicans, and a significant number of Libertarians that call themselves Republicans.


It is obvious that Arizona has a number of zealots and few statesmen in the Legislature. The organized Republicans, including the Libertarians, and Democrats, although to a lesser degree, have adopted relatively extreme positions, disenfranchising most of us regular folks. The result is that the disenfranchised middle usually does NOT vote in the primary thus ensuring that the usually more extreme candidate supported by either party wins.


I've been told that businesses, when thinking of relocating, demand three things. First, an available well-educated work force; secondly, great schools for their worker's children to attend; and thirdly, well-led, visionary state leadership that works cohesively with a progressive governmental structure. Does that sound like Arizona right now?
Now, I disagree with his characterization of Democrats as having adopted relatively extreme positions or electing relatively extreme candidates - any party that can elect someone as liberal as Kyrsten Sinema and as conservative as Jack Brown to the state House of Representatives and both garner great respect from their colleagues is a "Big Tent" party with room for many perspectives. Compare this to the case of State Senator Carolyn Allen (R-Scottsdale) who is perhaps the closest thing to a true moderate in the AZGOP and in the R caucus of the legislature.

For her trouble, she is reviled as a "RINO" by GOPers statewide and harassed almost her own caucus-mates.

Personal note: the "cohesive" comment definitely brightened my day. :)

However, his piece is thoughtful, perceptive, and civil. Unlike the vast majority of political discourse in Arizona, particularly that which is emanating from the R side of the aisle.

There is room for civility among the disagreement that is a fundamental part of politics. Civility is possible, even between people with strongly divergent opinions, when those people have goals that are similar.

Like the betterment of the state for every one of its residents.

Lastly, Mr. Nine wrote in his piece how he has been a Republican since after he came home from service in Vietnam, so perhaps he wouldn't consider changing his registration to Democratic (though anyone as dedicated to a strong, vibrant, and effective public education system for Arizona's students would be welcome here), but I hope he remains active in public service, even as a Republican. If Mr. Nine and those like him forsake active involvement in civic affairs because of the number of extremists, the extremists gain strength and influence.

Arizona needs the involvement of more people who care about the state and its future, regardless of their partisan affiliations (or non-affiliations).


Thane Eichenauer said...

I'll mention here as I have elsewhere that as far as I know there are NO libertarians registered as Republicans in the Arizona legislature.

If anybody should care to point out any elected Republicans in Arizona that advocate the full, immediate and complete legalization of marijuana I might be persuaded that libertarian Republicans exist. Until then that species is a myth as far as Arizona is concerned (with one exception made for Roy Miller).

Martyrmama said...

I was truly disappointed to hear Mr. Nine was dropping out of the race. I believed him to be a sincere and proper candidate; not thumping on public schools as a bad lot. While I and many others are sad to see him out of the race, it is my earnest hope that he will remain an outspoken advocate for public education in our state.