Arizona certainly doesn’t lack for crazy ideas led by equally zany lawmakers. From politicians working to further the ‘birther’ conspiracy to legislators redefining conception to two weeks prior to ovulation, we’ve got more than enough material to keep comedians like Jon Stewart in business.
But instead of shaking our heads or shrugging our shoulders over the ridiculousness of certain legislation or politicians, we should be taking an active role in ridding the state of these embarrassments by investing in those who can turn things around.
Believe it or not, we do have individuals who are more than capable of governing with intelligence and without corruption. But if we want these individuals to take over, we need to be willing to back them with our words, our time and yes, our money.
In the race for Maricopa County Sheriff, we have a candidate who has the credentials and the fortitude to take on Joe Arpaio and turn MCSO into a department we can all be proud of. But if we really want Joe Arpaio out of office (and seriously, how can we not want that?), we must band together behind ONE candidate with as many resources as possible.
I had the chance to speak with Scottsdale Police Lt. Mike Stauffer, and I can honestly say, I have nothing but respect for him and his character. However, his chances of beating Arpaio are incredibly low for one key reason. He’s running as an Independent in a race against a multi-million dollar incumbent. Without the backing of a party, national and even state fundraising is nearly impossible and certainly not at the levels needed to take on Arpaio’s war chest.
Though I wish money were not an important factor in elections, it is, and we cannot fool ourselves into thinking it does not matter in this race. For the good of the cause, for the good of Maricopa County residents, Lt. Stauffer should pull out of the race and endorse Paul Penzone.
Much has been said about the newcomer and Democratic challenger, John Rowan. And though I have not had a chance to meet Mr. Rowan, I do know that the party has thrown its support behind Paul Penzone because they believe Paul has the support staff, the credentials and yes, the money, to beat Joe Arpaio.
In the race for U.S. Senate, Democrat Don Bivens dropped out when it became apparent that Dr. Richard Carmona had the momentum behind him. He didn’t drop out because he couldn’t win the primary. He didn’t drop out because Carmona had better ideas or even better qualifications. He dropped out because it became clear that in a general election, Carmona had the edge, and this race was too important for Democrats to lose because of ego or infighting. John Rowan should follow Don Bivens’ lead and do the same.
I have supported Paul Penzone in this race first and foremost because I believe he has the ability to bring integrity back to the Sheriff’s office. We need a Sheriff who believes in the rule of law but also believes all residents, regardless of skin color or status, deserve to be protected. Community policing standards dictate that every crime victim has the right to assistance, and all victims should feel comfortable and safe when reporting crimes. Paul wants to put the department’s focus, and its resources, into protecting residents and lowering crime rates versus inflating his ego and doing whatever necessary to score media attention.
But beyond Paul’s credentials and his motives is his ability to win. It’s true that beating Arpaio will require a perfect storm. That storm includes vulnerability by the incumbent, which we have, and a challenger who has the funding and the backing of a host of individuals and organizations willing to go out on a limb for their candidate.
I’m going out on that limb knowing it’s a risk, knowing I will take a great deal of heat for asking two candidates to drop out of the race. But I’m not the only one. The Democratic Party is going out on a limb. Prominent Republicans such as former U.S. Attorney Paul Charlton have gone out on that limb. Organizations such as Citizens for a Better Arizona have gone out on that limb.
Now, we need you. We need lots of you to go out on a limb with both your time and your resources. Jon Stewart called Arizona the “meth lab of democracy.” But it doesn’t need to be. We can turn it around, but it starts with a willingness to take a stand and gather the resources needed to put the right candidates, the sane candidates, in office.