By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
That may sell to Mechamites, but Harvard grad Phil MacDonnell is not a liberal. In his campaign appearances, MacDonnell has railed against delays in death-row executions, supports a voucher system for people to by-pass the public school system and stresses his record in law enforcement. No stranger himself to hyperbole, MacDonnell said during a Mesa debate: "People are not safe in their homes, and the federal government is responsible for it!"
One prominent party insider from the northeast Valley says it doesn't matter what MacDonnell says; the race is practically a done deal. "Wead's coming down the homestretch, while the others are just getting out of the starting gates," says the insider. "All three spoke at our district meeting, and if you're a motivational speaker like Wead, you're out of their league." (This insider, however, acknowledges being "pro-life," a camp that Wead has heavily courted.)
The insider credits Wead with several smart moves. Noting that Wead headed the "It's Time" tax-initiative movement, the insider guesses that Wead must have developed a very good mailing list of fiscally conservative Arizonans. That's an extremely good guess.
The insider also notes that Wead has done a good job in trying to nail down support among Mormons. Prominent in his campaign are LDS legislators Lela Steffey and Lester Pearce, ex-county supervisor Tom Freestone and ex-congressman Eldon Rudd, who's Wead's honorary campaign chairman. Wead's campaign videotape features a brief scene with Mormon leader Ezra Taft Benson.
Right from the start, Wead aggressively has tried to line up conservative East Valley support. Wead's camp not only scared prospective opponent Freestone from the race, it also gave Freestone seed money to start a campaign for an Arizona Corporation Commission seat. Freestone has been present at many Wead rallies; at the Pat Boone concert, he meekly took the microphone from Wead and asked the crowd to put money in envelopes and send it to Wead. (That kind of public shilling for another candidate probably is a first for anyone who wants to serve on the corporation commission, where one has to be able to stand up to big utilities.)
Freestone's supporters initially were angered by Wead's entrance into the race, but Wead has mollified many of them, including Chuck Wahlheim of the East Valley Partnership. Wahlheim now says he's a Wead supporter.
Wead has money to spend--according to reports filed last week, he had $70,000 on hand even after giving out thousands of videotapes and boxes of a book he wrote called George Bush: Man of Integrity. His supporters include a budding young Republican media star, Bill Tierney, an Arizona State University student who was one of the youngest delegates to the Republican National Convention in Houston. Tierney says he checked out Wead and found him to be the best man for the job. If you check out Wead's campaign finance reports, you'll find that Wead is paying Tierney a monthly salary of $440.50. Nothing illegal about it. It's just good machine politics to put your supporters on your payroll.
Wead, who has spent his whole life campaigning--as an evangelist, motivational speaker and George Bush's "public liaison" to religious conservatives and other special-interest groups--knows how to organize a rally. On May 10, two days before his campaign kickoff in Mesa, he took the pulpit on a Sunday to urge a crowd at Phoenix First Assembly of God Church on Cave Creek Road to come out and show support for his political campaign. He also called for volunteers to help him and the church's associate pastor Leo Godzich prepare campaign videotapes for distribution. (Wead's rally pitch is available from the church's bookstore for $3; ask for sermon tape 9219-B, entitled "Rejoice in the Lord Always.)
@body:The ongoing rebellion continues to bear fruit for the GOP's religious right--basically the fervent antiabortion people. In the past few years, they've captured the party chairmanship and many of the worker-bee party posts. Ambushed by newcomer Wead's well-financed blitz, the GOP's old guard had to scramble to get MacDonnell into the race at the last minute.
Wead's infusion of money and style of campaigning caught veteran Republican activists by surprise. But not the party's conservative Lincoln Caucus, whose Arizona director, Sydney Hoff, is a paid consultant to Wead.
Wead and the Lincoln Caucus have collaborated on several projects. In November 1991, Wead was emcee of the group's environmentalist-bashing conference entitled "Unmasking the Green Movement." Last March, Wead was a panelist at a "symposium and awards dinner" called "Confronting the Moral Crisis in America," sponsored by the American Freedom Coalition, a group linked to the Reverend Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church. The AFC's Arizona director, Mark Anderson, who also was a panelist, says the AFC was founded in 87 with help from Moon associate Bo Hi Pak and "business sources related to the church."
Sydney Hoff, who had been scheduled to appear on the March panel until family matters forced her to cancel, says the Moon connection doesn't bother her. She praises the AFC's Arizona members for being active as volunteers in antitax movements. "Religious bigotry is religious bigotry," Hoff says. "If I were going to go after Mark Anderson because he's a Moonie, I'd be practicing religious bigotry. And I'm not going to practice it."