By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
With so much riding at the national and state levels, it's easy to overlook the Arizona Legislature. Don't. Many keepers of the Capitol brain trust (Democratic senators Chris Cummiskey, Ruth Solomon and Elaine Richardson, and Republican Senator Randall Gnant and Representative Roberta Voss) left to seek higher office, or aren't running at all.
Heck, The Spike will even miss Tom Smith, the snarky Scottsdale conservative. His views are wacky, but at least Smith admits them up-front. Same goes for Bundgaard. Both are leaving the Senate.
There were a few bright spots on Election Day. Republican James Kraft, whose true place in the cheese family is still unknown, lost his House seat. Democrat Bill Brotherton beat Earl Wilcox for a spot in the Senate. Phew on both counts.
The losses far outweigh the wins. Senate Democrat Kathi Foster will be missed. And The Spike was really bummed to see Republican Steve May narrowly lose his House seat. May went to the Legislature to fight for the economy, and wound up fighting for gay rights. He made the brave choice. He paid for that, many times over. Did it cost May his House seat? Hard to say. Does he even care? May didn't bother to stick around for Election Day. He was off in Macedonia, observing an election there. In any case, May was a fascinating and effective lawmaker.
But the biggest loss by far may be Susan Gerard. Gerard, a Republican, is the smartest, savviest, funniest politician the Arizona Legislature has seen in a long time, if ever. Her race was so tight that the votes were still being counted as this column went to press, but it didn't look good. First in the House, then the Senate, Gerard led a band of moderate Republicans that gained in size and stature, influencing important legislation on health care, education and other social issues. Gerard was so persuasive she could even tell her far-right colleagues how to vote, and she used to laugh about how Debra Brimhall -- the ultraconservative from Pinedale who home-schooled her kids at the Legislature -- would stand behind Gerard on the House floor and copy her votes.
The only good news is that Brimhall lost her seat, too.
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