Mining magnate John Campbell Greenway helped found the city of Ajo and has a major road and high school in Phoenix named after him. His statue, sculpted by the man who designed Mount Rushmore, stands in a section of the U.S. Capitol that honors individuals chosen by their states.
But some Arizona lawmakers say Greenway's statue should be brought home and replaced by one of the late Sen. Barry Goldwater, whom they say would better represent the state in the National Statuary Hall in Washington, D.C.
"No slight on Mr. Greenway, but Barry Goldwater is one of the most recognizable figures in Arizona history," said Rep. Peter Hershberger, R-Tucson. "Here is an individual who really represents, with his own spirit and personality, the spirit of the West and the spirit of Arizona."
HJR2001 would encourage the Joint Committee on the Library of Congress to approve the switch and return the Greenway statue. It would also ask the Arizona Historical Advisory Commission to cover the costs .
The House approved the resolution 58-1 on Monday, sending it to the Senate. Rep. Albert Tom, D-Chambers, who cast the lone vote against, didn't immediately return a telephone message.
Each state is allowed to donate two statues of bronze or marble of important figures to stand in the hall.
The bronze statue of Greenway, designed by Gutzon Borglum, has stood in the hall since 1930. Arizona's other statue is of Father Eusebio F. Kino, the 17th-century Jesuit missionary.
Hershberger, sponsoring the bill with Reps. Lucy Mason, R-Prescott, and Adam Driggs, R-Phoenix, said that more people would identify with Goldwater.
"My first political experience was with Goldwater for President at age 15," he said.
State historian Marshall Trimble said that while there is nothing wrong with Greenway or Father Kino, he thinks Goldwater and longtime Sen. Carl Hayden should represent Arizona.
"John Greenway is, at best, a questionable pick," Trimble said. "I have never understood either of our statuaries. I have always felt that the statues should be of giants in Arizona history."
Trimble said he doesn't consider Greenway a true Arizonan because he was born elsewhere and came here to do business. He was born in Alabama in 1872 and came to Arizona in 1910. He left the state in 1925 and died in New York a year later.
"He was a mining magnate at a time when mining dominated politics," Trimble said.
The idea of honoring Goldwater over Greenway didn't sit well with H.J. "Hop" David, publisher of the Ajo Copper News, a newspaper Greenway supported while Ajo grew.
"While I admire Barry Goldwater, I'm certainly against this bill," David said. "I feel that this would be a slight towards John Greenway, who was an important part of our history."
Barry Goldwater Jr. said that he didn't think his father would be approve of the change because he was modest.
"I think that it is appropriate that we would revisit the issue, and it's nice that they would consider my father," Goldwater said. "If my father were standing here right now, he would say that there are more deserving people. (Former Arizona congressmen) Morris Udall and John Rhodes come to mind."
Trimble said that Goldwater, who was the Republican nominee for president in 1964 and served five terms in the U.S. Senate, was more than a politician. He was a noted photographer, war hero and explorer, he said.