In Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness,” the narrator speaks of his instability caused by the fever dream of the jungle this way: “(It) was the playful paw-strokes of the wilderness, the preliminary trifling before the more serious onslaught which came in due course.”
Which kind of sums up my feelings towards our elections this year.
The primary, primarily funded by the so-called “dark money,” was a preliminary assault on our intelligence, the “playful paw-strokes.” Now comes the “serious onslaught.”
Already the attack commercials are up, with Doug Ducey’s campaign attacking Democratic opponent for governor Fred DuVal for raising university tuition while -president of the Board of Regents. Which he did along with the other regents, many of whom were appointed by Jan Brewer.
But what Ducey doesn’t mention in the attack ad is this: The Republican-controlled state Legislature continually cut university funding during much of DuVal’s tenure, which meant that university costs were passed onto students via increased tuition and fees. Kind of like today in our public schools, where the legislature’s stinginess has led to schools begging parents for basic supplies.
And one reason for the lack of funding is part of Ducey’s formula for Arizona economic success: tax cuts. which Ducey wants even more of. And which we have done for a decade and clearly haven’t worked to kick start Arizona’s economy, given that we lag the nation in recouping our job losses. Ducey, though, still wants to cut away, even to the point of eliminating the income tax. And how will the state fund the budget? Details to come.
No matter, though. This first attack ad is only one of hundreds we’ll see in the next few months. In the meantime, though, what about the primary? Well, Ducey did win the Republican nomination, but he could only gather 37 percent of the vote, even with his own millions backing him along with various outside anonymous groups attacking his opponents. And for many Arizonans, DuVal is a cipher, so it’ll be an early race between the two to define for the voters who DuVal is.
For John Huppenthal, his time as education czar has thankfully come to an end. But with his defeat by Diane Douglas, we’re going to hear a lot about Common Core, the one issue she used to demolish Huppenthal. Of course, Huppenthal, the midnight blogger, didn’t help himself much. But Douglas will ride the Common Core Boogeyman throughout the general election. Her opponent, Democratic nominee David Garcia, is much more qualified than Douglas, so we’ll see how much her scare campaign will work with the general electorate.
Tom Horne on Tuesday refused to concede (editor’s note: Horne conceded to Mark Brnovich on Wednesday), even though he was six-points behind his opponent. Horne was holding out hope that this election will be a replay of 2010, when he trailed Tuesday but by Saturday had emerged the winner.
So the fall campaign will pit Horne slayer Mark Brnovich against Democrat Felecia Rotellini. Just a guess, but I’ll bet we might hear something about the Goldwater Institute during the election, given that Brnovich was once a pooh-bah at that propaganda mill. And Rotellini is one of the few Democrats (DuVal, too) with a massive war chest, so we’re going to see a lot of the career prosecutor in the next 90 days.
Maybe the best news coming out of Tuesday, though, was more local. The stain that is Russell Pearce may finally have been removed from the Arizona political fabric. State Sena. Bob Worsley comfortably defeated Pearce’s hand-picked revenge candidate, Ralph Heap, Tuesday, which means that Pearce has been shut out by his own constituents in the last three elections. I guess it’s time for the guy whose SB 1070 became a lawyer’s full employment act to crawl off the political stage and into his make-work job for the county treasurer. A fitting coda to his life: yet one more government job for the man who made a political career out of despising government.
Pearce, when not ginning up fear of the “illegals,” liked to rail against big government. Which is ironic, given that his entire career has been in government, whether as a Sheriff’s Deputy, the head of the MVD (until a little controversy over fixing a woman’s DUI record nixed that job), and his time in the state legislature. And now he has an $87,000 a year job given to him by buddy and county Treasurer Hos Hoskins.
Goodbye, Russell. And good riddance.
• Mike McClellan is a Gilbert resident and former English teacher at Dobson High School in Mesa.