Ascent of a Woman

Meet Jane Hull. She's probably your next governor.

The style's not so strange, the typical pouf of a 61-year-old grandma. Rather, it's the color that sends a reporter to her Crayola 64-pack--instead of the Clairol tint charts--to match the hue.

On the day she is to sit for a portrait, Hull wears a khaki suit offset by a hunter green blouse and matching green-framed eyeglasses. A new elephant pin on her shoulder draws praise from staff. The dazzling hair and the neatly perfect ensemble speak volumes about Hull's resolute but chipper demeanor.

Hull is as ordered and even and unflappable as the perfectly matched row of Arizona Highways on the table in the waiting area outside her office.

But she's not stiff or severe. "With me, she's always been engaging," says fellow Republican and political consultant Jason Rose. She's not the type who's looking over your shoulder at a cocktail party, anticipating a more interesting conversation.

Maybe that's because of her Midwestern roots. Jane Dee Bowersock was born and raised in Kansas City, Kansas. She married her high school sweetheart, Terrance Hull. He was on the football team; she was the editor of the school paper. Her father worked as a reporter for the Kansas City Star, and Hull considered a career in journalism, but eventually settled on education. She graduated from the University of Kansas.

Terry became an obstetrician, and in 1962 the Hulls moved to Chinle, Arizona, so he could work on the Navajo Reservation while Jane raised the kids--ages six months, 3 and 5--and taught English. In 1964, the family moved to Phoenix, where Terry did his residency at Good Samaritan Hospital. Jane quit teaching to raise her four children.

A lifelong Republican, Hull says she was particularly inspired by then-senator Barry Goldwater, whom she heard speak at the University of Kansas in 1961.

Although she doesn't recall a time she wasn't interested in politics, Hull didn't become actively involved until the mid-Seventies, when she joined GOP women's groups and began to volunteer on campaigns. In 1978--when Hull's youngest son was already 13--Stan Akers gave up his seat in District 18 to run for the Corporation Commission. Hull ran for the seat and won.

Mentored by the other House member from her district, Majority Leader Burton Barr, Hull pushed for and captured the chair of the important Governmental Operations Committee, and in 1986, when Barr left to run for governor, she was elected House Majority Whip.

Speaker of the House Joe Lane, a Mecham supporter, lost his House seat in the 1988 election, and Hull rode the anti-Mecham wave to victory in the scramble to take his place.

She stepped down as speaker in July 1992, and resigned her legislative seat in October 1993 to run for secretary of state.

She beat Jim Irvin to take the Republican primary for secretary of state in September 1994, winning by a far narrower margin than had been predicted.

Two months later, Hull beat Democrat Pete Rios.
From the day she announced her intention to run for secretary of state, pundits have pondered the possibility that Hull really had her eye on the governor's seat.

After all, recent Arizona political history is rife with tales of such ascension to power.

In 1977, Secretary of State Wesley Bolin became governor when then-governor Raul Castro was named ambassador to Argentina. The next year, Attorney General Bruce Babbitt succeeded Bolin, who died. (At the time, Rose Mofford had been appointed, and thus was ineligible for the post.) And, of course, Mofford moved up in 1988.

All along, Hull has vehemently denied any gubernatorial aspirations. Today, few are bold enough to contradict Hull, given the very real possibility she'll soon be governor.

But in September 1994, during the heat of the general election, longtime Hull adversary and Pete Rios supporter House Minority Leader Art Hamilton said it loud and clear. "I think she's asking for the job with an eye on the job above it," he told a reporter.

The role of secretary of state is just that--secretarial. Hull keeps and distributes public records and administrative rules, appoints and certifies notaries, registers trademarks and serves as the state's election chief. Public policy rarely rears its head.

Any attempt to examine Hull's positions on policy issues necessarily leads back to her days in the House of Representatives, from 1978 to 1993.

Hull demonstrated early on that she was tough, not necessarily pro-woman--and sometimes inflammatory. "We have women in bikinis at the pool while their children are in day care," she said in 1981, when voicing her support of a bill that would have limited subsidized day-care hours.

She also opposed a measure that would have guaranteed women equal pay for equal work in some public sector jobs.

Hull's position on abortion has never been clear.
She tells New Times she supports parental notification for minors, and would probably have supported the recently passed measure banning partial-birth abortion.

But, she continues, "I kind of don't like the fact that the Republicans tend to be so much worried about what's going on in the bedroom. If we're supposed to believe in less government, then I guess I kind of look at it [abortion] as a less-government issue."

So she's pro-choice?
"Yeaaahhhh," she sputters, hesitating. "I've voted both ways, so it's very difficult to pin me down," Hull says. "Actually, both sides dislike me, probably pretty intently. It's very difficult. As a Catholic, it's a very difficult issue to deal with."

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