The Xavier Mafia??? No disrespect to Stacey, but I couldn't think of a more fitting term for some of the people and alliances that have come into and out of that place!
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Another pivotal experience: Her father refused to give her much spending money for school, so she did telemarketing for USC. "I give good phone," she said, by way of explaining her fund-raising abilities.
Later, running her own political fundraising business, she'd force candidates to "give phone," too. She pointed out the window of her north central home, to the guesthouse out back, where she officed.
"I mean, I've had congressmen over at my house, making phone calls only when they misbehave." That meant failing to call the list of potential donors she'd given them. Pawlowski described saying to the likes of former congressman Matt Salmon, "'You don't want to come to my house.' And Matt Salmon's like, 'No I don't. No I don't. I'll make the calls.'
"I make it painful" for those who didn't listen, she said. "Like, 'We'll make four hours' worth of calls,' and then they're like, 'Shit, I'm never doing that again.' I'm like, 'Good! So you'll behave and now we'll just do one hour at a time.'"
Pawlowski's first job, as a fundraiser for the Arizona Republican Party, paid $24,000. She moved back in with her parents. They charged her $300 a month for room and board, and she was required to be home every night at 6 for dinner.
"If I didn't show up, the next day my dinner would be wrapped in Saran Wrap in front of my cereal bowl. It was awesome . . . Then you'd be like, 'Oh, shit. I forgot to call Mom.'"
It was 1992; John McCain was running against Claire Sargent, post-Keating Five. Pawlowski wasn't particularly frightened — or impressed — by his temper, though she did see him slam his fist on a desk and demand 70 percent of the vote.
"They say he's got a temper — I don't think it's a temper, per se, no more so than the other guys I've seen."
"So, I just distinctly remember his saying, 'I want 70 percent of the vote!' but Phil Gordon said the same thing," she said of the Phoenix mayor, one of the few Democrats she'd worked for.
"Phil Gordon actually takes it one step further and says, 'I want to know the 30 percent who voted against me.' Like he's going to go and convince them next time. Which is funny, I think, because you're always going to have 20 percent who disagree with you on one side, 20 percent who disagree with you on the other side and your whole thing is to fight over 60 percent, you know?"
It was never all work and no play, Pawlowski recalled. She learned that from her days working with Republicans in D.C.
"Even when Lee Atwater had a stroke and was in a wheelchair cruising around, they would start happy hour at 3 o'clock," she said. "I was coming off of college so I was a big beer drinker . . . And I kind of learned that a lot of political decisions — slogans, for example, the design of signs, for example — came from going to dinner and having drinks with people."
The war stories go on. Pawlowski drove Dan Quayle around in her Jetta ("I love him. He's much smarter than spelling potato wrong.") She knew Karl Rove and Haley Barbour and had to "zip it" when she was fundraising in more conservative states, where her salty language and progressive views on abortion didn't play so well.
Eventually, she started Capital Connection in 1996, with McCain as her first client. She immediately broke records, with a dinner that brought in almost $750,000.
She parted ways with McCain and worked for Steve Forbes. ("Flat tax — mmm. Such a good idea. Love that idea.") He still sent her birthday cards. Eventually, she worked more for causes than candidates, like the Arizona Meth Project and the homeless campus in downtown Phoenix.
In 2005, she married Scholz, who's not at all involved in politics. Among other things, he's a trained chef. By May 2006, she was pregnant. She did a lot of pre-natal genetic testing because she was over 35 and a lot of worrying over the fact she was having a boy. ("'Are you shitting me? I'm going to have a boy? Am I going to be a good boy mom? But I forgot I work in politics that's 98 percent men, so clearly, I can be a good boy mom.")
The baby was fine. Pawlowski was not.
She recalled the early days, after she got the news.
"Everyone's like, 'Oh, you're taking this so well.' And it's like, well, your choice is, sit on the couch and say, 'Woe is me. How the fuck did this happen?' Or be positive . . . To me, it just never was an option. But I had a baby, a husband."
She drank wine while Will shaved her head (the eyebrows were the hardest to lose) and got herself a "hot Posh Spice wig." She wore sock monkey pajamas and fought with Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman (because she continued to work, even once the cancer moved to her brain) and had plans to go to something called the Living Foods Institute in October.