Monday, October 28, 2002

Lose Ann Symington's Money!

This week's column is a couple of one-liners stretched out to a 600-word printed stand-up routine. I really like the idea of the "Lose Ann Symington's Money" reality show, though. In other news, former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods announced that he's going to re-register as a Democrat after the election after he's finished co-chairing Matt Salmon's campaign. In an interview with the Arizona Republic published on Sunday, he tried to convince himself that Matt really isn't part of the right wingers having taken over the GOP here:

Q8. Some GOP moderates are suspicious of East Valley conservatives like Matt Salmon. Why aren't you?

If they get to know Matt Salmon, they understand that he's a different sort of person. I really find him quite exceptional. He's more conservative than I am. But that's no big deal.

Q9. If the hard right is controlling the party, why didn't they have a candidate in the Republican primary for governor?

They had one.

Q10. Who?

Carol Springer, probably.

Q11. A pro-choice woman?

Well, I don't know. That's a good point. That's just one issue. Maybe that turned them off. I don't know where they went.

Oh, well. Maybe Grant couldn't figure it out, but I think the rest of us can. Once he re-registers, then we're down to about 7 or 8 moderate Republicans in Arizona, hence the jest: What do you call a moderate Republican (or a pro-choice Republican) in Arizona? Answer: A Democrat.

East Valley Tribune, October 27, 2002

Merely remembering things that happened five or ten years ago can make Arizona politics a real laugh riot.

George Cordova, the Democrat running for Congress in District 1, lacks much of a political record, so he got attacked earlier this month on his business experience. The people attacking were former business partners who had invested $1.4 million in a failed olive oil importing venture. They included some 18 contributors to GOP causes, including members of the family of former Gov. Fife Symington (R-Bankruptcy).

Any rich Arizonan probably deserved to lose any money invested in an olive oil import business not based in New Jersey. (Yo!) Nonetheless, these angry investors argued that Cordova's business failure disqualifies him from political office. The truly delicious irony is that one person calling business failure such a terrible, terrible thing was none other than the wife of our former bankrupt, indicted, convicted, overturned-on-appeal, and pardoned-by-Bill-Clinton Gov. Symington.

When Fife Symington lost his investors $10 million, and filed bankruptcy, and faced both civil and criminal suits, these same people saw no connection between his business failures and his political qualifications. Heck, the Symington camp spun Fife's ability to ignore the collapse of his business as a positive qualification.

It was like a reality TV show, ahead of its time: "Lose Ann Symington's Money" (on attorneys' fees, even if not the actual investments). Fife won by losing -- other people's money.

I guess that's George Cordova's only mistake -- he didn't lose enough money. Squander $1.4 million of GOP donors' cash, and you're unfit for office. Blow ten times that amount in construction workers' pension funds, and you're a leader deserving our respect.

Having your business record attacked by a Symington -- talk about a badge of honor! Only in Arizona.

Meanwhile, running for Secretary of State -- for the past two decades, the gubernatorial waiting room -- is none other than "Amnesia Jan" Brewer. In 1996, Brewer castigated the quarter-cent sales tax that funded Bank One Ballpark. She slammed her opponent for the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors as an "embarrassment" for having voted for the tax. She campaigned wearing a "No Stadium Tax" T-shirt, and lobbied the state legislature to overturn the supervisors' vote to build the stadium.

Two years later, after surfing into office on waves of her anti-stadium-tax rhetoric, Amnesia Jan helped host the grand opening of Bank One Ballpark, calling it "one of the architectural and engineering wonders of the world." She got elected complaining about the money needed to build it, but once it was built and paid for (with your tax dollars and Ed King's political career), Brewer had her name put on the building's dedication plaque.

Amnesia Jan is an Arizona classic. She campaigns against taxes, derides her opponent as a free-spending liberal, and once elected, is pleased as punch to spend that money generated by those same taxes she so ardently opposed. Somebody else raises the money so Amnesia Jan can preside over its spending, with a giddy smile and bubbly dedication speech ("A state of the art, fantastic ballpark. The crown jewel of Maricopa County!")

Ever wonder why so much of politics seems poll-driven and spineless? It's because thoughtful people with guts (like Jim Bruner, who voted for the stadium tax knowing it would kill his political career) pay the price for their courage, while two-faced hypocrites (like Amnesia Jan Brewer) keep skating by, so long as voters never bother to remember more than the latest sound bite.

All this happened back in 1994 and 1996. Amnesia Jan hopes you won't remember. Don't let her get away with it.

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