Opinion columnist Jim Sharpe ruminates on Arizona’s peculiar politicians
As an Arizona schoolboy, I was in awe of our larger-than-life political figures. History dripped with the likes of Barry Goldwater, Carl Hayden and John Rhodes.
As I got a little older, that list grew to include Sandra Day O’Connor, Rose Mofford, Mo Udall and (the original) Bob Stump. Many of them got their start in the Arizona Legislature or in county or city politics. Contemporary Congresspeople David Schweikert, Kyrsten Sinema, Debbie Lesko, Ruben Gallego and Andy Biggs also started their careers in our state Capitol.
But as I look at those names, all I can think is: “How far we’ve fallen.” Arizona politics circa 2018 is grim. Candidates for the Arizona Legislature this year include luminaries like “Dandy” Don Shooter, “Pedal to the Metal” Paul Mosley, and “Momma was a Blast” Bobby Wilson.
Let’s take our potshots at Shooter first.
What could possibly convince someone who just got booted from the Arizona House for sexual harassment to run for Arizona Senate? A bloated, buy-your-own-BS ego, is what. I guess Shooter needs to get back to the Capitol so the gals can see what a swell guy he is.
So he perseveres – even surviving two court challenges to his Senate ballot eligibility for Yuma’s Legislative District 13. (Critics say he spends most of his time in the Biltmore area, not Yuma.) Huh. It’s almost like Donny doesn’t understand the word “no,” and he’s knocking on the collective hotel room door of voters holding a six-pack – thinking he still may get lucky.
Speaking of reality-proof egos, how ’bout state Rep. Paul Mosley (R – Lake Havasu). He’s the guy who told a La Paz County deputy on body cam footage that he can’t be ticketed for doing more than 40 miles per hour over the speed limit because of legislative
immunity – and then admitted to driving 140 mph. I’m not sure which surprised me more: that a Prius can do 140 – or that a Republican drives one.
After revelations that Mosley had been pulled over multiple times but got away with the “Don’t you know who I am?” defense, Governor Doug Ducey issued an executive order advising state officers that criminal speeding and reckless driving are a “breach of the peace.”
“Breach of the peace” is the watermark in Arizona’s constitution for negating the privilege of legislative immunity. Which is cool, because about 90 percent of legislators breach the peace every time they open their mouths, and that means we could potentially do a perp walk every night they’re in session.
There’s no truth to the rumor that Mosley plans to introduce a bill that will turn Arizona speed limits into speed suggestions. That would only be the second most ludicrous idea he’s had, right after his proposal to abolish mandatory K-12 education in Arizona, arguing that school is “a privilege.” Well, if anyone knows about privilege, it’s No Ticket Paulie.
Then there’s Tucson state Senate candidate Bobby Wilson. I actually feel a little bad for Wilson because he may not be at fault for the predicament he’s found himself in. But life ain’t fair – especially when you have “a deranged mother who was a fugitive hiding in the backwoods of [southeastern] Oklahoma,” per his website. Wilson’s bio goes on to claim that his mother tried to kill him and his sister back in 1963. It doesn’t mention that he subsequently shot his mom to death.
He’s admitted as much. Whether it was self-defense is the question. He faced two trials, but wasn’t convicted for that shooting – nor for the ensuing fire that took his sister’s life. For years, Wilson claimed to have amnesia about the incident, but later remembered enough that he was able to write about that crazy night in a book called Bobby’s Trials.
Unfortunately, shooting one’s mother not only tarnishes your Second Amendment advocate credentials, it also puts you in the “too weird for me to vote for you” category.
Like I said: Life ain’t fair – and it sure ain’t fair that Arizona seems to always have a slate of freaky folks lining up to be public servants. Do you think New Mexico would be up for a candidate trade or two? Let’s just never consider trading with California. They may be the only state with more crazy-eyed politicians than us.