Zombies are all the bloodthirsty rage these days.
The walking dead have escaped our movie theaters and are now stalking our video games and shuffling down our streets for Zombie Walks. They've even infiltrated the pages of Pride and Prejudice, with Mr. Darcy fighting off hordes of flesh-eating ghouls.
And increasingly, they seem to be infecting our political parties. Once upon a time, Republicans believed in fiscal responsibility, protecting the environment and investing in the nation's infrastructure. Teddy Roosevelt busted the trusts and protected our national parks. Dwight Eisenhower pushed for the expansion of the New Deal and investment in our interstate highway system. Richard Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency. Even the sainted Ronald Reagan raised taxes to reduce the gap between revenues and spending.
What do Republicans believe in now? Taaax cutsssss. Seecurrrre the borrrderrrr. Prrrrivatizzzze the parrrrkssss. Destrrrroy the univerrrsssitiessss. Eaaaaaaaaaaaat braaaaaaaaainnnnnnns!
Given the dismal circumstances, we've decided that this year, we'd go ahead and endorse a few zombies in key contested primary races where the living dead seemed as good a pick as any. Feel free to write 'em in on your ballot.
Election Day is Tuesday, Aug. 24, but early voting starts this week, on Thursday, July 29. To get your early ballot, call the Pima County Recorder's Office at 740-4330.
U.S. SENATE: DEMOCRAT
In a race that includes investigative reporter John Dougherty, former Tucson City Councilmember Rodney Glassman, former state lawmaker Cathy Eden and labor organizer Randy Parraz, we're casting our vote for John Dougherty. In his career at the Phoenix New Times and elsewhere, Dougherty uncovered scandals and shenanigans involving Sen. John McCain, former Gov. Fife Symington, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and plenty of other scoundrels. We like what he has to say about sensible immigration reform, cutting back on Pentagon waste and pursuing clean-energy policies. Dougherty would upend the status quo in D.C.—and even though he may never get to Washington, D.C., you know watching him debate McCain would be some kick-ass political theater.
U.S. SENATE: REPUBLICAN
If you need more explanation about the zombie infestation of the GOP, look no further than U.S. Sen. John McCain.
The zombie virus has been eating away at Arizona's senior senator for years as he pursued his presidential ambitions, but it was only when he faced a serious challenge from former congressman J.D. Hayworth that McCain completely succumbed.
What was the sign that the old McCain was completely gone? For us, it was the moment when he declared that he had never considered himself a maverick. R.I.P., Sen. John McCain.
Meanwhile, his primary opponents are even worse: J.D. Hayworth is a flimflam man, and Jim Deakin's promises to essentially eliminate the federal government would be laughable if it weren't so close to mainstream GOP thinking these days. (Well, OK, it's still laughable.)
Therefore, we're endorsing the Zombie Barry Goldwater. Sure, there was his unfortunate indiscretion involving the eating of Jerry Falwell's brains, but that's the sort of thing you have to expect from the living dead.
CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT 7: REPUBLICAN
Congressman Raúl Grijalva enjoys a big Democratic voter-registration advantage, but four Republicans are vying for the chance to knock him out in CD 7.
Perennial candidate Joe Sweeney (who looks as if he died about three campaigns ago) is joined by Terry Myers, Ruth McClung, Christopher Flowers (who has thrown his support behind McClung) and Robert Wilson. All of them talk a lot about socialism, freedom and other abstract principles while they're on the stump, but much as we like those things, we're endorsing Zombie Dwight Eisenhower, because we could use someone who's willing to stand up to the military-industrial complex in Washington, D.C., these days.
CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT 8: REPUBLICAN
Jonathan Paton will tell you that big tax cuts and cutting back on earmarks will balance the budget—even if we continue to spend on military interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq, and on the Arizona border. Jesse Kelly will tell you that we can cut the federal income tax to a flat 10 percent and then slash government to fit within that budget, even while we build a double-layer fence along the U.S.-Mexico border. Brian Miller will tell you that you'd be better off if we got rid of Medicare and left the health of senior citizens in the hands of private insurance companies.
This is zombie economics—slogans in the place of serious proposals about how the government needs to be financed if we're going to address the financial challenges reshaping our world.
The only guy in the race who remains a relatively reasonable Republican is Jay Quick, who supports sensible immigration reform and wants to bring home soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan, expand Medicare to allow all citizens to buy into the program, and end the partisan gridlock that has locked up D.C. If you're looking for a moderate Republican, you can cast a vote for him, although he doesn't have a prayer of winning the primary.
We'll give Gov. Jan Brewer this: She was willing to face reality enough to push for a temporary sales tax to keep the state government solvent. That was a remarkably gutsy and honest step for a Republican in 2010.
But after she signed SB 1070, the immigration bill that's bitterly dividing the state, we can honestly say that we are not at all into her.
Not that our seal of approval means anything, given that Brewer has already dispatched her three chief GOP rivals, all tax-cut zombies who dropped out of the race before early voting even started. Now that's a gal who can shoot 'em in the head.
Brewer's only remaining GOP opponent is Matthew Jette, a political novice who has zero chance of prevailing on Election Day. You can vote for him as an alternative to Brewer, but we're endorsing the Zombie Paul Fannin, the Republican who served as Arizona governor from 1959 to 1965. Back in the day, Fannin launched the Arizona-Mexico Commission, saying: "God made us neighbors; let us be good neighbors." We could sure use a little more of that attitude today.
ATTORNEY GENERAL: REPUBLICAN
In the five-plus years that Andrew Thomas served as the Maricopa County attorney, we saw abuses of prosecutorial power that are unprecedented outside of fascist regimes. This guy doesn't just try to indict his political enemies; he stacks charges against them in towering indictments.
Did you fail to properly file your paperwork? Expect a stack of perjury charges. Cross him or his ally, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio? Get set to do a perp walk. Write something in a newspaper that he doesn't like? Don't be surprised when you're led from your house in handcuffs.
Thomas has built his reputation on pursuing illegal immigrants, but he's also tried to sue judges, arrest journalists and indict politicians who disagree with him. Those cases, for the most part, have fallen to pieces, because they were built on bullshit—although some of his targets have suffered from damaged reputations and huge legal bills.
Even a fellow Republican prosecutor, Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk, was dismayed by what she called Thomas' "totalitarian tactics." Polk correctly pointed out: "Our power granted to us by the people is not a personal tool to target political enemies or avenge perceived wrongs."
Andrew Thomas is not the kind of guy we want enforcing the laws of Arizona.
We're not crazy about Tom Horne's record as state superintendent of public instruction—especially given his willingness to demonize Latinos to score political points. But we imagine he'd have a sense of prosecutorial discretion that's sorely lacking in Andrew Thomas, so we're gonna have to plug our nose and vote for him in this race.
ATTORNEY GENERAL: DEMOCRAT
All three Democrats—Vince Rabago, Felecia Rotellini and David Lujan—have experience in the Attorney General's Office and elsewhere in the political realm, and any of them would make a good AG. We were leaning toward local boy Vince Rabago, but as of press time, he still hadn't qualified for Clean Elections funding, which makes us worried that he doesn't have the organization to compete statewide. So we're going with Felecia Rotellini as the strongest Democrat to have on the November ticket.
SECRETARY OF STATE: DEMOCRAT
We're voting for Democrat Chris Deschene, a former Marine who has represented Apache County in the Arizona House of Representatives, over Sam Wercinski, who served as Arizona's real estate commissioner in the Napolitano administration. Deschene, whose Navajo family has lived in Arizona for decades, strikes us as a hard worker with an impressive résumé that includes 10 years in the Marines, a law degree from Arizona State University and extensive organizing work that could help Democratic candidates statewide.
SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION: DEMOCRAT
We're going with Penny Kotterman, a teacher and union official who has a lot of experience with Arizona schools and a clear understanding of the challenges that teachers face in Arizona. We like Jason Williams, but he couldn't seal the deal with Arizona voters when he sought this office in 2006, so we're ready to give Kotterman a chance.
SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION: REPUBLICAN
The GOP choices are former state lawmaker John Huppenthal, political newcomer Beth Price and Margaret Dugan, who worked as second-in-command to current state schools chief Tom Horne. We're not impressed with any of 'em, so we're going with Zombie Abraham Lincoln, because we believe he'd terrify kids into improving their AIMS scores.
STATE TREASURER: REPUBLICAN
Republicans have to choose between Barbara Leff, Ted Carpenter, Doug Ducey and Thayer Verschoor in the race for state treasurer, a relatively unheralded office that's charged with overseeing the state's checkbook and investment accounts. We don't like any of them, so we're endorsing Zombie Herbert Hoover, because he seemed to have a pretty good grasp of the economy back in 1929.
ARIZONA CORPORATION COMMISSION: DEMOCRAT
We're inclined to vote for Renz Jennings, who did a good job in a previous stint on the Arizona Corporation Commission, and David Bradley, who was a capable lawmaker while representing midtown Tucson in the Arizona Legislature. The third candidate, state Sen. Jorge Luis Garcia, doesn't seem to be running the kind of aggressive campaign needed to win a statewide contest.
ARIZONA CORPORATION COMMISSION: REPUBLICAN
We used to think that Barry Wong was a reasonable Republican, but then he suggested that utilities should shut down service to illegal immigrants. He's off our list. The other two Republicans, incumbent Commissioner Gary Pierce and Brenda Burns, sound pretty squishy when it comes to the ACC's renewable-energy requirements; that leaves us endorsing Zombie Teddy Roosevelt and Zombie Richard Nixon, both of whom showed more concern for the environment than today's GOP does.
LEGISLATIVE DISTRICT 25: HOUSE DEMOCRAT
In this large legislative district, which stretches from Marana to the Mexican border, we like incumbent Democrat Pat Fleming and Army intelligence instructor Ken Davis over former lawmaker Ruben Ortega, who didn't have a particularly stellar record during his first stint in office back in the 1990s.
LEGISLATIVE DISTRICT 26: HOUSE REPUBLICAN
Incumbent Rep. Vic Williams showed some political courage by supporting the one-cent sales-tax increase that voters approved in May, but his support of massive tax cuts for Arizona's wealthiest citizens leaves us unable to endorse him. We also don't find ourselves on the same wavelength as Terri Proud, who still needs to master her delivery of conservative talking points about tax cuts and government waste. That leaves Republicans with Wade McLean, a former superintendent in the Marana School District, who appears to be a decent choice for Republicans who still believe in something besides dismantling government.
LEGISLATIVE DISTRICT 27: HOUSE DEMOCRAT
Voters in LD 27, which stretches from the UA to Three Points, have eight candidates to choose from in the race for two open House seats—and most of 'em would make good lawmakers, which makes picking two of them a challenge. Our nod goes to Dustin Cox, a young and energetic Democrat who has shown a lot of drive while reinvigorating a couple of local nonprofits, and Sally Gonzales, a former lawmaker who understands how the Legislature works. We'd advise you against voting for John Kromko, whose anti-government crankiness has grown tiresome, and Eric Carbajal Bustamante, whose legal record leaves us thinking that the people of LD 27 deserve better.
LEGISLATIVE DISTRICT 28: HOUSE DEMOCRAT
Here's another crowded race, as five good Democrats run for two House seats in midtown Tucson. There's not a whole lot of difference between the candidates when it comes to policy, but our picks are incumbent Rep. Steve Farley, who has done a solid job of representing the district for the last four years, and Mohur Sidhwa, a longtime Democratic activist who understands the problems facing the state and has the right ideas about solving them.
LEGISLATIVE DISTRICT 30: HOUSE REPUBLICAN
It's a crowded race in Legislative District 30, where a half-dozen Republicans are seeking two House seats. Most of them are peddling the usual anti-government Kool-Aid that involves cutting taxes for the rich and crippling state government, so we're endorsing just one candidate: Brian Abbott, who supported Prop 100 and believes in funding education, among other government functions.
LEGISLATIVE DISTRICT 30: SENATE REPUBLICAN
If you like a senator who supports crippling state parks, kicking poor people off of health-insurance rolls, cutting education spending, eliminating science and tech economic-development efforts, providing massive tax cuts to Arizona's wealthiest residents and expanding government regulations so that bureaucrats can decide whether you're eligible to have HBO channels or buy a drink, vote for incumbent Frank Antenori. Otherwise, you want to vote for Marian McClure, a former House member who did a good job of representing Southern Arizona back in the days when the Legislature wasn't regularly featured on Comedy Central.