Incumbent Rich Crandall, a moderate Republican known for his focus on education, was joined by another moderate, Bob Worsley, a newcomer with an impressive business background and leadership role within the Mormon Church.
It could have been a cake walk for Pearce. Pit two moderates, one with broad support from the education community and another with broad support from the business community, against one extremist with undying support from the Tea Party.
But Crandall did something many in politics refuse to do. He decided not to run, saying, “It’s more important that voters keep Russell Pearce out than they keep Rich Crandall in.” In other words, Crandall put the good of the state before any other interests, personal or otherwise.
That’s a rare thing these days. Most of our politicians spend their days submitting bills that will help them receive support from key lobbyists and other special interest groups. Legislation is based on ideological viewpoints while knowledgeable, fact-based information is tossed aside.
There’s hardly a day when Arizona doesn’t make the national news, and it’s almost always because of some crazy piece of legislation, and it’s almost always legislation submitted by a Tea Party Republican.
Crandall is one of a small handful of Republicans left at the legislature who has a focus beyond immigration, abortion, or birtherism. His focus has been on education, something few legislators on either side of the aisle have spent much time on. And though I may not always agree with every bill he puts forth (most notably his bill to end the free lunch program for poor kids), I respect the volume of good bills he’s submitted and his ability to get them through the senate.
It’s expected that Bob Worsley, like Crandall, will take on a different focus than his Republican cohorts. Worsley plans to focus on jobs, something that’s been forgotten among the stack of birth control and gun bills, and he wants the country and the world to see a different vision of Arizona, one that isn’t clouded by the haze of bad and ineffective immigration policies.
It’s a shame Crandall and Worsley aren’t in different districts because I believe the state needs more men like them… more moderates, more individuals in office working on the issues that will move this state forward. But perhaps Crandall’s willingness to sacrifice his job to keep an extremist out of office will encourage more moderates to step forth and speak out. And perhaps Worsley’s win and Pearce’s loss will signal an end to the extremism that has dragged down our economy and cost us our reputation.