McClellan: Arizona’s Republican party makes for great political theater - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Voices

McClellan: Arizona’s Republican party makes for great political theater

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Mike McClellan is a Gilbert resident and former English teacher at Dobson High School in Mesa.

Posted: Sunday, July 6, 2014 2:00 pm

What’s with our Republican politicians here in Arizona?

Crazy stuff seems to follow in their wake. Of course, no party has a monopoly on political weirdness, but right now, right here, the Republicans have a few problems.

Start with some of their candidates for governor. Ken Bennett, our current secretary of state, at one point was stuck in the birther muck, suggesting he might argue to keep Obama off the Arizona ballot in 2012, no doubt to curry favor with the rightest of wings in his soon-to-be run for governor.

And lately, he’s been slapped down for trying to star in a commercial about voting, which would give him some free air time for his campaign.

Minor league stuff, however, compared to another candidate, Andrew Thomas.

You remember him, the disgraced and disbarred former Maricopa County attorney, the guy who investigated practically every county official and lost the county millions after those officials sued the county.

Yep, he’s running, and actually qualified for Clean Elections funding, which means he’ll be someone who might take just enough votes from the other more conservative candidates, who’ll split that vote anyhow, to give the conservative but not crazy Scott Smith the nomination.

And then there’s Tom Horne, our attorney general. The guy charged to enforce our laws, the guy who’s being investigated by multiple agencies for violating some of those laws. The guy whose office is now running an “independent” investigation of the charges, an investigation headed by two men who’ve contributed to Horne’s campaigns.

The guy whose investigation results will remain secret. Any guesses on how Horne will spin it?

And the guy who’s running for re-election despite all of this.

Which brings us to the current star of the Republican reality series, John Huppenthal, our superintendent of public instruction who once ran robocalls endorsing a plan to send kids to private schools. Who, thanks to his multiple-personality online comments, revealed his, well, limited understanding of history. Who apparently likes Spanish only on Mexican restaurant menus. Who apparently believes Obama gives wide-screen TVs to the poor. Who, by the way, believes said poor are “lazy pigs.”

Huppenthal, like Horne, has no intention of resigning.

Unlike Horne, though, he actually has tried to explain away his online commentary.

The “pig” comment, for example, was first explained away as a reference to a children’s story.

Right.

And then he had a press conference wherein he “repudiated” all the comments he made, claiming they weren’t what’s in his heart. OK, so in the heat of an online exchange, someone might occasionally state their views in a hyperbolic way. But repeatedly, over several years and using several aliases?

C’mon, John.

So as early voting for the primary election begins at the end of the month, it’ll be interesting to see how Huppenthal, Horne and company campaign. More interesting will be the results of the primary, which we’ll know in late August.

My guess? Horne and Huppenthal are history, Bennett most likely will lose, and Thomas will be at best a thorn in some candidates’ sides.

Regardless, it’s good political theater. I wonder, though, if it’s good for our state.

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