Wednesday, May 31Welcome

Opinion: One word that defines Arizona politics

Editor’s note: Jon Gabriel is editor-in-chief of and an opinion contributor to the Republic of Arizona. Follow him on Twitter. @exionThe views expressed here are his own. Read more opinions on CNN.


As a lifelong Arizonan, I get a lot of questions about my state. How do you survive a summer of 118 degrees Fahrenheit? Is the Grand Canyon really ‘magnificent’? Tell us about the time you found a scorpion in your boot!

But being a political commentator, the most common question concerns Arizona’s, well, peculiar politics. With former newscaster Kari Lake leading in many gubernatorial polls and former tech investor Blake Masters gaining momentum in his battle with Democratic Senator Mark Kelly, 2022 will be no exception. There is none.

John Gabriel

Democrats nationwide cheered to see Lake and Masters win their respective primaries. This was the same strategy they attempted with his 2016 Donald Trump.

After an amazing comeback in the past two cycles, Arizona’s Democrats have turned what seemed like two easy wins into a nightmare scenario. My fellow longtime Arizonans weren’t surprised.

A few years ago, many thought Arizona was the reddest of the red states. When Democratic Senator Kirsten Cinema won his 2018 victory and President Joe Biden and Kerry won his 2020, commentators across the country thought Arizona had turned blue, or at least purple. rice field.

No single color fits our unique and diverse state. Arizona is neither conservative nor progressive. It’s upside down.

The Grand Canyon State periodically swings from left to right and vice versa. Over the past 45 years, Democrats have served as governors as often as Republicans.

My late father, who raised me as a good boy in Arizona, provided a textbook example of our contrarian tendencies.

His politics have been somewhere between Archie Bunker and Ron Swanson, but he often voted for Democratic re-election. what’s his reason? “I haven’t heard of them on the news, which means they haven’t bothered me or messed anything up.”

Our vote includes many civic initiatives that often contradict each other. My father voted “no” to all of them. “Because if I vote yes, it means change, and change is bad. He also voted against retaining all judges.

Mom asked to see his ballot so she could vote the opposite way.

This hell-hogging contrarianism has been around since the founding of Arizona. President William Howard Taft delayed the acceptance of Arizona into the United States until the territorial legislature removed from the state constitution certain progressive provisions allowing the recall of judges. removed it. Then, the year Arizona became a state, voters quickly voted in favor of the problematic provision. For example, Washington DC.

Decades later, Congress wanted to mandate daylight saving time nationwide to save energy and eliminate clutter. The federal government wanted Phoenix to force one more hour of daylight – in the summer? (Hawaii joined the Desert Dwellers.)

In 1990, Arizona was the first state to hold a popular vote to set a holiday for Martin Luther King Jr. The week before the vote, the measure had him leading by 52% to 38% in polls. That weekend, the NFL openly announced that it would refuse to host the Super Bowl if Arizona voted “No.” And the measured value dropped from 51% to 49%. (The holiday was finally approved two years later, 61% to 39%, after local business leaders promised to keep the NFL tight-lipped. It remains the first voter-approved MLK day.)

For better or worse, Arizona voters have a powerful rebellious streak. They like nothing more than tweaking an outsider’s nose.

Journalists have labeled Republican Senator John McCain a “maverick” for his history of clashes with Republican bosses. He fought for campaign finance reform for decades, often opposing Republican Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. McCain’s last major action was to kill Obamacare’s “skinny repeal,” this time against Senate Majority Leader McConnell.

Before McCain, Senator Barry Goldwater was our maverick. He infuriated the Rockefeller Republican leadership in his 1960s with “extremism defending liberty is not evil”, and in the 1980s he outraged his moral majority with his vocal support for gay rights. .

Enter the cinema. Her spirited independence baffles her DC activists, but she’s simply exercising this Arizona-specific mentality.

So Arizonans grab their popcorn when they see Lake denounce a hopeful Republican before scolding a news reporter. throws the second bag into the microwave.

Both candidates are merely demonstrating Arizona’s contrarian character shared by politicians and voters. The other 49 states may complain about the brusqueness of our leaders, but that only makes us like them more.

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