Friday, February 01, 2013

Think that legislative Republicans are mellowing? Don't believe the hype.

There has been some talk that the Rs in the Arizona legislature have moderated a bit this year.

People espousing that position (one that I disagree with, but that will be the subject of *many* future posts) tend to cite two main facts in support of their belief -

1.  Noted wingers such as Russell Pearce, Frank Antenori, Ron Gould, and Jack Harper are out of the lege.  Whether it was by their own choice (Gould and Harper) or the voters' (Pearce and Antenori), they're gone, and they were some of the loudest voices in support of some of the looniest measures to come out of the lege in recent years.

2.  This week, the lege passed an emergency supplemental funding measure so that CPS, Child Protective Services, could hire 50 caseworkers.  After the massive budget cuts on the agency over the last few years, CPS finds itself unable to do its job, even minimally well.  Governor Jan Brewer, whether looking out for Arizona's abused and vulnerable children, or looking out for her legacy (and no, those aren't mutually exclusive considerations), pushed for the supplemental funding for CPS.  The legislature approved the measure unanimously (House, Senate), seemingly lending credence to the idea that the Republicans in the lege have finally grown souls.

That is, until you look at pictures from the ceremony where Brewer signed the measure.

From the Facebook feed of the Arizona Senate Democrats -

(L-R) Rep. Chad Campbell, House Democratic leader; Sen. Andy Biggs (R), President of the Senate; Governor Jan Brewer (R); Rep. John Kavanagh (R), chair of the House Appropriations Committee; and Sen. Leah Landrum Taylor, Senate Democratic leader 
There's one thing that all three Republicans in the above pic have in common, aside from being Republicans (of course) - they're not going to be candidates for statewide office next year.

No Republican who is even seriously whispered about as having an eye on statewide office next year wanted to be near the cameras covering the signing. 

At the very least, in keeping with the pattern of the leadership of the lege appearing at the signing, House Speaker Andy Tobin (R) should have been there instead of Kavanagh.

However, Tobin is termed out of the House after this term and may not be interested in a run for a rank-and-file slot in the Senate (assuming Biggs wins reelection and isn't deposed from the Senate presidency in 2014).  So that leaves running for a statewide office or returning home to Paulden.  Now Paulden has its charms, but they may not be enough for someone who has been at the center of the state's political machinations for years now.

As for the ones who *did* show up -

Biggs could make a run, I suppose, but he's more than a little baldly arrogant, and it's not the kind of charming arrogance that might be useful in a statewide campaign.  As one of the most intelligent people on West Washington (and even people who don't like him don't underrate his intellect; he may be known as a complete jerk, but he's a *smart* complete jerk).

Kavanagh is termed out of the House, but he has already started laying the ground work for a run at a seat in the state senate.

Brewer is term-limited (in spite of her periodic protestations to the contrary) and won't be on the ballot next year (unless she goes for a down-ballot slot).

"Good governance" measures may make for great photo ops for Democrats and would-be legacy builders, but they are the kiss of death for candidates in a statewide R primary.  Biggs and Kavanagh are long-time politicos from "safe" districts, so they can afford one blemish on their records (however, don't be surprised to seem them try to burnish their "mean" cred with a "makeup" bill, maybe a resolution condemning the Puppy Bowl as an al-Quaeda plot or something similar).

Now, in case anyone is thinking that I cherry-picked a picture from a Democratic source to support my point here, here is the picture of the signing from the governor's website -

Now, there are more legislators in this pic than in the one posted by the Senate Democrats, but none of them are among those talked about as potential statewide candidates.

Bottom line:  there's no moderation here.  Republican primary candidates are just as rabidly anti-society as they ever have been.  They have to be - that's where there voters are.

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