Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A seat in the AZ lege isn't the steppingstone it is in other states... least not for Republicans, anyway.

Last night, former legislators Rusty Bowers, Jim Waring, Pam Gorman, Sam Crump and Jonathan Paton lost primaries in Congressional races, bringing the record of Republican state legislators looking to jump to the federal level to an abysmal 0 for at least 2.  As in at least 2 decades (with a minor caveat that I will discuss in a moment.)

- Former state senator Bowers lost to dentist Paul Gosar in the CD1 primary by almost 12,000 votes.

- Former state senator Waring lost to Ben Quayle in the CD3 primary by more than 3,000 votes.

- Former state senator Gorman lost to Quayle by more than 9,000 votes.

- Former state representative Crump lost to Quayle by more than 11,000 votes.

- Former state senator Paton lost to Jesse Kelly in the CD8 primary by more than 6,000 votes.

That's in 2010.  In 2008...

- Former state rep David Schweikert lost to Democrat Harry Mitchell (CD5) by almost 27,000 votes in the general election.  Schweikert's back for another go, so he may be the one to break the dry spell.  Of course, even if he does, he'll have gone through another office (Maricopa County Treasurer) and a losing race first.

- Now former state senator Tim Bee lost to Democrat Gabrielle Giffords (CD8) in the same general election by more than 39,000 votes.

- Now former state representative Mark Anderson lost in the CD5 primary by almost 9,000 votes to Schweikert.

- Former state representative Laura Knaperek lost in the same primary by nearly 7,000 votes.

In 2006...

- Former state rep Randy Graf lost to Democrat Gabrielle Giffords in the CD8 general election race by more than 30,000 votes.

- Former state rep Steve Huffman lost to Graf in the CD8 primary by almost 3,000 votes.

And so on.

In fact, the last R legislator to win a seat as one of AZ representives in the U.S. Congress was Trent Franks, who first won election in 2002.  Of course, he had left the lege in 1986, so he had time to get past whatever stench attaches itself to Republican legislators.

As for the other Republican members of the AZ delegation -

- John Shadegg once worked for the lege, but he was never a member.

- Jeff Flake once headed the Goldwater Institute, where he may have served as a de facto member of the lege, but he wasn't elected to it.

- Former Congressman Rick Renzi went to college in AZ, but he never served in the lege here or in his real home state of Virginia.

- Former Congressman JD Hayworth went straight from a TV sports desk to Congress in 1994, with no legislative experience.

However fruitless the quest has been for Republican legislators looking to move up, the same isn't true for Democratic legislators.

In 2006, former state senators Harry Mitchell and Gabrielle Giffords won their elections in CD5 and CD8, respectively. 

In 2008, former state representative Ann Kirkpatrick won her election in CD1.

Hmmm...that pattern brings to mind two possibilities.

One, as bad as the AZ legislature is for Democrats, it seems to serve as a good training ground for the rigors of a campaign for Congress.  Maybe some of the more ambitious Rs should consider becoming Democrats.  OK, so that probably isn't going to happen. :)

Two, maybe the Rs who care more about their furthering their careers than furthering the interests of Arizona will pass on the legislature.  OK, so that probably isn't going to happen either.  :(


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