The only thing missing from Paula Pennypacker's stump speech before the Democratic state committee meeting in January was the Rocky theme.

Charismatic and scrappy, the lifelong GOPer recently painted a "D" on her shield and called out Republican black knight John Kavanagh, current chair of the powerful House Appropriations Committee.

Friend of lobbyists, enemy of the poor, and taker of free trips from Chinese communists and the government of Azerbaijan, Kavanagh wants to soft-shoe over to the state Senate this year in Legislative District 23, which tilts hard to the right.

But Pennypacker is lookin' to put a steel heel through Kavanagh's loafers.

"Together," she told the party faithful, "we're going to take on the guy who's more into private-prison building than school building."

Pennypacker attacked Kavanagh on several fronts: for his looking to cut cost-of-living increases on pensions, for his wanting to repeal the state's voter-approved medical-marijuana law, and for his longtime support of recalled former state Senate President Russell Pearce's war on the undocumented.

In her speech, Pennypacker went so far as to link Kavanagh to dead neo-Nazi kid-killer J.T. Ready, dissing Kavanagh's "clapping as [Ready] spewed his hate-filled rhetoric."

Kavanagh was at a 2007 nativist rally where Ready spoke of closing U.S. borders with Marine divisions and jerking judges around by their collars.

In a video of the event, Kavanagh is seen applauding for Ready after the neo-Nazi called for "putting the Arizona National Guard on the Arizona national border."

Asked about this, Kavanagh insists nothing in Ready's speech was "fascist" and that he applauded only during the part about the Arizona national guard.

"I oppose all forms of totalitarian ideology," he says. If Pennypacker was implying he is a "a fascist or sympathizer," then "she is running a dirty campaign."

Ready aside, Kavanagh's link to Pearce is as solid as the rock in the ex-senator's skull.

Not only was Kavanagh a co-sponsor of Pearce's hateful anti-immigrant legislation, Senate Bill 1070, he also joined Pearce in seeking an end to the birthright-citizenship provision of the 14th Amendment.

But what plays in a hall full of Democrats will not necessarily play in LD 23, to say the least.

According to the most recent registration figures published by the Arizona Secretary of State's Office, Republicans enjoy a 2-to-1 advantage over Dems in that district.

Kavanagh will be finishing his fourth term in the state House. So far, no Republican has stepped forward to give him a primary. And Kavanagh has more than $18,000 on hand.

Nevertheless, Pennypacker, who learned how to throw elbows back east, where she ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Toledo, Ohio, as a Republican in a sea of Democrats, seems jazzed by the challenge.

"It's not about winning," she tells me. "It's about taking on this guy. He's out of touch, an embarrassment."

As an example, she offered Kavanagh's recent disparaging comments on the value of a college degree and how the state shouldn't plow so much cash into higher education.

Pennypacker was aghast, saying she couldn't have gotten her first job, as a saleswoman for glass manufacturer Owens-Illinois, without a post-secondary degree from the University of Toledo.

"Owens-Illinois was interviewing on college campuses, not on high school campuses," she says.

Toledo is a union stronghold that's suffered the ravages of America's declining industrial sector for decades.

In the 1980s, Pennypacker saw the city's Democratic machine — and the local Republican Party's complicity in the Democrats' rule — as reasons for Toledo's slide.

Following her stint in sales, she took up her passion for politics. Despite the best efforts of GOP heavyweights, she ran first for city council, then for mayor twice, once coming within 31 votes of a Democratic rival.

Party bosses refused to support her, but she became a hometown hero nonetheless.

The Toledo Blade called her "one courageous Republican" and dubbed her the leader of a "Republican renaissance" when she led an insurgent GOP coalition's effort to recruit reform-minded precinct committeemen and retire the old fogies then in charge of the Lucas County GOP.

So why didn't Pennypacker stay in Toledo and fight?

"I promised my husband that if I lost when I ran for mayor the second time, we'd move to Arizona," she says. "I believe everything happened for the best."

Here in Sand Land, Pennypacker and her husband got her company, Just for Redheads, running full-steam. The online business markets makeup and haircare products designed by Pennypacker for ginger-topped ladies like herself.

The couple also had a son, now 14, and she remained active in Republican politics, though she quickly learned that being "liberal on social issues and fiscally conservative," as she describes herself, was not going to play with the über-right-wing activists who dominate the local GOP.

With every year, she moved closer to the ideals of the Democratic Party. Though she initially supported SB 1070, she eventually ended up denouncing it, backing comprehensive immigration reform.

In 2010, she ran for the state House in what was then LD 8. She was bested by Kavanagh and Representative Michelle Ugenti, a Tea Party Republican. The race further soured her on the GOP.

She went on to champion President Obama over Mitt Romney in 2012. And with her husband having survived a bout with brain cancer, she's a big supporter of Obamacare.

Legalizing drugs? She's always been for it. In a 2004 editorial for the Arizona Republic, she wrote, "Adults should be able to ingest anything they want, as long as they do not harm others."

Already labeled a RiNO (Republican in Name Only) by conservative critics, she finally switched her party affiliation last year.

"The GOP hates women," she says. "I'm telling you, that's a big problem. I was in denial for 30 years."

Her campaign might seem entirely quixotic if not for a secret weapon: Kavanagh.

See, the K-man has a bad case of foot-in-mouth disease, which is only made worse by the safe district that so far has coddled his conservative extremism.

Plus, he's done his best to tick off a minority community with deep pockets: gays and transgenders, whom he royally annoyed last year with ill-fated legislation to make it a criminal offense for transgenders to use the "wrong" bathroom.

Kavanagh also is co-sponsoring legislation this year that would allow businesspeople to discriminate against gays (among others) for religious reasons.

Pennypacker and her new campaign manager, Rebecca Wininger, president of the pro-LGBT group Equality Arizona, think Kavanagh's painted a target on his back, one that may allow them to raise money from the affected community.

"The gay demographic does have a lot of money," Wininger says. "And they are very politically involved."

Politicians who know Pennypacker from her hometown aren't counting her out.

Current Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins, an independent, points to his own recent win as an underdog, heavily outspent by an incumbent.

"It sounds like it's going to take sweat equity," says Collins of Pennypacker's run, a term Collins defines as hitting the bricks and going door-to-door.

Former Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner, a Democrat, goes further, noting that Pennypacker ran in the same open field with him in 1993, then endorsed him in the following runoff, after she had come in fifth.

"She is a worthy opponent," Finkbeiner says. "I don't care how long her opponent has been in office, or how successful that opponent has been, she will give him a run for his money."

Pennypacker says it would have been easier politically to play Republican Stepford wife, to pander and sell out. But that's not her.

"Besides," she says. "I want to turn Arizona purple."

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71 comments
timdlittle
timdlittle

good for her. Hope she smashes that fascist pig.

tambocha
tambocha

Is she a wealthy American industrialist looking to open a silver mine in the mountains of Peru and before she invests millions in a lucrative mine, she'd like to go a little native, to get the feel of their condiments, and of their unmentionables? 

serpico1000
serpico1000

This is why I do not like to try to post my comments for this blog should be free since freedom of expression is so lauded yet we have a dimwit creating a freedom of expression brunt, then we do not have freedom of expression DO WE?? is the opposite bird brains doing this? is this allowed on the Internet? is this type of people allowed to be in the background spying on what anyone writes and overrun it ? this should be done AFTER THE COMMENTS ARE POSTED, NOT DURING!!! and Yahoo's policies should be Specific !!!

serpico1000
serpico1000

I think Mr. K  avanagh needs to go, for his legislation on anything that his interests or his base is not on he is going to fight it regardless if his idea of getting funds from the education department to fund CPS is is base then he is out of this State if not out of this World He does not make any sense at all and this is only a miniscule amount of his legislation he has been pud I do not know if his Idea shing that really do not make any sense and his Idea of JQEW;OIsXCJLZKDFNMB;CV, :.,MC B;LZM /;KJBXC VK,JN B;ZLKMGn:ZLDMFB:lkM  ":B n"blMSnG BZ

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G;,KBpOJFNMGa"[PRKHB',MSDNFVGzdf:LMB"sdlN V/;KFXLMBNAND MY IDEA OF WHOEVER IS 
"M:lCM:VB,N  :nlbVAND MY IDEA OF ANYONE SCREWING WITH MY COMMENT SHOULD GO AND &(^()*_)_(_ YOURSELVES OKAY?????? 

ConcernedCitizenAZ
ConcernedCitizenAZ topcommenter

Welcome, Penny! Beautiful photo and refreshing face for the Dem party. She has the right values to be a public servant, which Kavanagh lacks.

alehound
alehound

She would go further with a name of fudgepacker... 

toersbijnsc
toersbijnsc

I like her style - I tried talking to Kavanagh and he is so hard to get a hold of as a public servant and this is one of the most important things about being elected into public office. This might be a wake up call for Mr. Kavanagh as being a Republican myself - I will look for those that will serve us and listen to us and not put our email into the SPAM box..

davewk2002
davewk2002

Arizona has what used to be called a silent majority of people that are fed up with the Republican leadership here and are looking for someone who actually has the interest of Arizonans at heart.  If we can start by building schools rather than prisons I think we allow the state to empower rather than to beat down its citizens.  The Republican party has become the party of intolerance.  It goes after the mentally ill, the seniors, the kids and schools, the Blacks and Hispanics, and women.  I don't think anyone who has lived in this state for many years wants to see our southern border turned into the Berlin Wall but at the same time we recognize that there are many complex problems to be dealt with to get immigration right.  Hiding from the problem which seems to be the typical Republican stance or utterance of racist remarks and actions does not help or solve the problem.  When we have a Republican attorney general that is observed by the FBI being involved in a hit and run accident in the parking lot of his mistress' apartment maybe there's something wrong in the legal system in Arizona.  The Republicans are unable to find fault with any other Republicans and leave the rest of us to fend for ourselves. They have a different set of rules than the rest of us do.  Kavanaugh is a joke. President Obama just recently told his daughters that he didn't think marijuana was any more dangerous than alcohol.  Kavanaugh is bound and determined to take medicine from patients even though our state allows them to be treated.  He'll be real surprised in a short time when Arizona votes to legalize marijuana and to treat it like alcohol.  Arizona is just not as out of touch with reality as is Kavanaugh.  Paula seems to have found the moral compass that the Republicans lost a long time ago. Wear it proudly. Purple is a good color!  Welcome aboard.

ConcernedCitizenAZ
ConcernedCitizenAZ topcommenter

This is great news!  Paula Pennypacker has our vote! 

Trommy
Trommy

I hope she wins.  We need intelligent people in government who stand by the voters decisions.  By that I mean Kavanaugh should not be in government.

MaskedMagician1967
MaskedMagician1967 topcommenter

She ought to run for any political office. She's actually stable mentally and understands the issues affecting you, the voter.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

... She can pack my pennies anytime !!



shadeaux14
shadeaux14

Not surprising after seeing some of the Op Ed pieces she's written in the last couple of years. She always came across as too sane to be an Arizona Republican.

barbaraespinosa1
barbaraespinosa1

Paula is a candidate to watch-she's smart-not afraid to tell the truth or speak her mind-she fought long and hard to stay in the Republican party she joined over 30 years ago and finally called it a day and joined the Democrats. She's a conservative on fiscal issues a liberal on social issues but then so are a lot of Republicans but are afraid of being ostracized or called names so they don't speak up. That's not Paula she speaks up...Don't count her out she's not afraid of a good verbal debate.

Cozz
Cozz topcommenter

If I lived in Fountain Hills she'd have my vote.

This POS Kavanagh needs to go, he's just one of many old looney hateful politicians that continue to bring Arizona into that national spotlight as an embarrassment.

TommyCollins
TommyCollins topcommenter

Purple. I like that notion.


Imagine a bi-partisanship of mentally stable legislators with the ability to actually read and understand changes in law. As opposed to those (think Kavanaugh) who simply parrot the ideals of their party leadership (think R. Pearce).


Kavanaugh has long been a party concubine....


It's time he is removed, along with the other elderly official from Fountain Hills...

mtrigsey
mtrigsey

I siincerely hope Scottsdale/Ft. Hills voters will not see Paula's run as Quixotic. I know Paula and she is much more than a windmill tilter.

This district has historically been represented by Moderate to socially liberal Republicans like Carolyn Allen, Steve May and Robin Shaw and have thumbed their noses at hard right Republican whack-jobs like Colette Rosati. I see it as being a district that is ripe for the picking by an articulate, progressive, woman with the entrepreneurial know how to get Arizona government back on track.

I have no doubt this firey redhead will keep John Kavanagh's feet to the fire. And given his goofy record she has enough stuff for one hell of a fire. If anything Russell Pearce's fall from grace proved - even perceived gianted can be toppled.

You go girl! Mike Triggs - former Executive Director of the Minnesota Republican Party

arizonaeagletarian
arizonaeagletarian

Mr. Lemons, I don't find your use of the expression "sand land" at all endearing, entertaining or even enlightening. But, I appreciate your story on Paule Pennypacker. :)

tambocha
tambocha

@serpico1000  What are you talking about?  What is a "freedom of expression 'brunt'"?

TommyCollins
TommyCollins topcommenter

@ConcernedCitizenAZ Bill Clinton proved once again that charisma buys votes. This lady has charisma. Kavanaugh has nothing more than some elderly Republican friends.

ConcernedCitizenAZ
ConcernedCitizenAZ topcommenter

@toersbijnsc  You're aren't the only one, who calls Kavanagh's office and never can reach him. He operates by voice mail, with no assistant to take or return his calls. Public servant?? Think not. 


Arrogant, narcissist describes who "uses" the taxpayers for himself. Puff, puffery...

shadeaux14
shadeaux14

@davewk2002 ,

Lived here for 30 years this year. When I got here, Arizona was considered to be one of the worst states in which to be a child..........30 years later, it still is.

For almost the entire 30 year period, the Rs have had almost total control of state government


Pretty much says it all..........if they don't care about the kids, they don't give a damn about anybody.

TommyCollins
TommyCollins topcommenter

@shadeaux14 It will be interesting to see how well she is accepted into the state Democratic party. She is a deep thinker, which could cause her problems with the left fringe idealists. The local party didn't do much of anything for Dan Saban and Paul Penzone when they crossed over.

MaskedMagician1967
MaskedMagician1967 topcommenter

Tommy, you are asking too much.

Electing mentally stable legislators would require voters to actually read and learn about the candidate. Good luck with that one.

NWEng
NWEng

@mtrigsey Triple word score for using the term "quixotic" in a forum post.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@mtrigsey  "Paula's run as Quixotic. I know Paula and she is much more than a windmill tilter."


Hey! ... did someone spot a dragon?


DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@arizonaeagletarian  "I don't find your use of the expression "sand land" at all endearing, entertaining or even enlightening."


NewsFlash -- no one cares what you find endearing, entertaining or enlightening.


hth.

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

@shadeaux14 @davewk2002 

If you actually look at the statistics, it's pretty clear to see that Arizona is a bad place to be a child, on average, because so many children have parents who don't speak English and so live in poverty, and since many of those parents are afraid of the authorities, they don't receive the assistance they could be getting.

As of a couple of years ago, 50% of incoming Kindergarten students did not speak English at home.


dennis20
dennis20 topcommenter

@TommyCollins @shadeaux14  She was greeted very well at the ADP State meeting Tommy. In fact, the only person who came close to beating her in applauds was Fred Duval. She spoke much later when people were getting tired but still brought the house down. Kirsten Sinima's speech didn't generate nearly the excitement Paula's did.  I feel confident the Dem Party will back her.  

shadeaux14
shadeaux14

@TommyCollins @shadeaux14,

Agreed. And of course, the optimism with which I always view Arizona politics says  "She's too sane for Arizonans to elect."

Unfortunately, to date, my "Optimism" regarding Arizona politics has usually proven to be right.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@NWEng ... bonus points if you can pronounce it correctly.



arizonaeagletarian
arizonaeagletarian

@DonkeyHotay Apparently, you care enough to tell me about it. But, enough about me. (or you) Thanks. :)
 

TommyCollins
TommyCollins topcommenter

@ConcernedCitizenAZ Absolutely, she does. I should have qualified my comment by saying, "one of her VERY many positive attributes is charisma"....


My comment was based on appearances, alone, without any consideration for any other skills or qualification, which is what (unfortunately or not) some voters make their voting decision on. That said, she will pummel Kavanaugh. He does NOT present well....

davewk2002
davewk2002

@valleynative @shadeaux14 @davewk2002 I don't dispute anything that you say.   I have worked in the schools for over 35 years as a psychologist here and since attending elementary school in Arizona have watched their decline.  We had many kids when I was in elementary school that did not speak English and at the time they used to be punished for speaking Spanish on the playground.  I have watched the maintenance of the schools be ignored due to budget cuts and the hiring of minimum wage workers to clean the schools that have little idea what they are doing and who are unable to communicate with the teachers in the classrooms about their needs.  Few have any idea how to maintain buildings.  I have seen many new teachers have to go on food stamps because the school districts could not provide a wage above the poverty level for them.  My father was a principal at Miles school in Tucson which is on Broadway near the University of Arizona.  My mother taught in elementary and junior high school in Tucson.  My brother and I attended Menlo Park elementary near A Mountain.  When I was a kid we used to attend national educational conferences where they could brag about how good the schools in Arizona were.  If you asked me at this point what I thought of the schools I would not recommend that any young person go into education unless they are already wealthy.  Not only is it a difficult job with long hours but unless things were to change dramatically they certainly don't have the support of our state government or people like Kavanaugh.  Do you have any idea what we have done to the mental health system in Arizona?

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@valleynative


So, as it is easier for me to imitate him in this than in cleaving giants asunder, cutting off serpents' heads, slaying dragons, routing armies, destroying fleets, and breaking enchantments, and as this place is so well suited for a similar purpose, I must not allow the opportunity to escape which now so conveniently offers me its forelock."


"It is enough that God understands me, wife," replied Sancho; "for he is the understander of all things; that will do; but mind, sister, you must look to Dapple carefully for the next three days, so that he may be fit to take arms; double his feed, and see to the pack-saddle and other harness, for it is not to a wedding we are bound, but to go round the world, and play at give and take with giants and dragons and monsters, and hear hissings and roarings and bellowings and howlings; and even all this would be lavender, if we had not to reckon with Yanguesans and enchanted Moors."


So that, senor, it is better to be an humble little friar of no matter what order, than a valiant knight-errant; with God a couple of dozen of penance lashings are of more avail than two thousand lance-thrusts, be they given to giants, or monsters, or dragons."


All knights have their own special parts to play; let the courtier devote himself to the ladies, let him add lustre to his sovereign's court by his liveries, let him entertain poor gentlemen with the sumptuous fare of his table, let him arrange joustings, marshal tournaments, and prove himself noble, generous, and magnificent, and above all a good Christian, and so doing he will fulfil the duties that are especially his; but let the knight-errant explore the corners of the earth and penetrate the most intricate labyrinths, at each step let him attempt impossibilities, on desolate heaths let him endure the burning rays of the midsummer sun, and the bitter inclemency of the winter winds and frosts; let no lions daunt him, no monsters terrify him, no dragons make him quail; for to seek these, to attack those, and to vanquish all, are in truth his main duties.

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

@DonkeyHotay @valleynative 

Not as funny as you believing that citing a Merriam Webster dictionary is the same as quoting Noah Webster.


Not as funny as you believing that my taking you to task for suggesting that stereotyping is ever justified is in any way apologizing for the stereotype you've formed.


Not as funny as believing that the ideology of the source of a fact has any bearing on the value of that fact.

You are hilarious. 


DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@valleynative


Funny that you would quote the Liberal Bible-thumper Webster in your vain attempt to justify and apologize for the vile racism, hatred and bigotry of your Desert Racist Wasteland.

fishingblues
fishingblues topcommenter

@robert_grahamcracker @fishingblues  Cracker - the simple-minded moron that owes his entire existence to stealing another simple-minded twit's identity.  Wow cracker, you sure are special (and illegal).

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

@DonkeyHotay

I posted Merriam Websters primary definition.  Congratulations on digging until you (apparently) found one that fits your misuse of the word.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@valleynative "Stereotyping is always wrong."


Fail. 


ˈsterēəˌtīp  noun  A conventional, formulaic, sometimes oversimplified conception, opinion, or image.


In the case of Arizona -- accurate, earned and deserved.

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

@DonkeyHotay @valleynative  

Stereotyping is always wrong.  It is another word for "prejudice", moron.

ste·reo·type transitive verb \ˈster-ē-ə-ˌtīp, ˈstir-\

: to believe unfairly that all people or things with a particular characteristic are the same

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@valleynative "The the politicians cannot earn a stereotype for the entire state."


LOL!


The Hate State of Arizona's repugnant reputation is ENTIRELY earned by the Idiot Politicians that the VOTERS of Arizona continue to elect.


Ipso facto, wacko!



fishingblues
fishingblues topcommenter

@valleynative @DonkeyHotay @shadeaux14  

The donkey boy is a communist and doesn't live in  Arizona.  Most rational people ignore him or just give him shit.  He loves to take shit, in so much as he is a shit-heal, a shit-stain, a shit head and a piece of shit.  

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@valleynative @DonkeyHotay @shadeaux14  


The "stereotypes" are not only valid for Arizona, but actually CULTIVATED and PROMOTED by the democratically elected politicians and representatives of the Desert Racist Wasteland of Hate.


You earned it, you own it.


Now eat it.


TommyCollins
TommyCollins topcommenter

@valleynative


I guess you're just more sensitive than I am. If the worst this state is ever called is 'sand land' I would think we are in pretty good shape. I live here, but don't love it, at all. I am here for 'the time being' and when I leave I'm sure the state and I will both be better for it. That will afford you more room in the sand.


valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

@shadeaux14 @valleynative 

That's true, but it doesn't justify name-calling or disrespecting the entire state.  The old folks who've retired here muck up our politics.  It's still a great state.


DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@valleynative <== one of the many reasons why Arizona has earned its reputation as the Desert Racist Sand Land of Hate

 
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