Go, Jarrett, go: Whip Phil's flabby white keister...
The word's out: The Reverend Jarrett Maupin II will be a contender in the Phoenix 2007 mayoral race in a bid to unseat Mayor Phil "Goober" Gordon. A formal announcement will come sometime this week, but already the prez of the Arizona Chapter of Al Sharpton's National Action Network has taken out the paperwork at city hall necessary to toss his chapeau into the ring. In addition, Maupin's campaign website http://www.gojarrettgo.com/ is up and running. During a visit to my office in the past few days, he attacked Gordon's lack of leadership on crime, social justice, immigration and fighting for small businesses, and challenged Goober Gordon to a series of debates on the direction of the city.
"If I'm really this young upstart Phil thinks I am, then he has nothing to be worried about," grinned Maupin, whose verbal skills easily outgun those of our milquetoast mayor. "Once we're in a debate, it's a whole different ball game, especially if we're allowed to ask questions of each other."
Can Maupin mount a significant challenge to Goober? Absolutely. Gordon's an incredibly unimpressive figure, the sort of schlub who should be a mid-level manager in a mortgage firm, not the leader of the 5th largest city in America. Other than playing Mayor Scissorhands, and cutting every ribbon at every photo op available in this burg, he's done nothing but represent the PHX's fat cat developers and real estate moguls. And they're rewarding him by financing his campaign. According to a recent Phoenix Business Journal article, of the over $655K Phil's PAC has raised, much of it comes from real estate interests. For four years, Phil's played cheerleader for these moneyed muck-a-mucks, and now their checkbooks are wide open for him.
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But while Phil's been on his knees blowing the real estate industry, he's effectively dodged issues like immigration and crime, so that Phoenix is now listed as the 59th most dangerous city in America, higher even than New York City in violent crimes per 100,000 persons. Arizona itself has risen to the third most dangerous state in the nation according to Morgan Quitno Press, up from fourth last year. And as the head of AZ's most populous city, Gordon bears much of the responsibility for that increase in AZ violence. He's done nothing while in power to seriously address the issue, other than hand out front porch benches as part of a piddly attempt to get people to watch out for crime.
A Maupin candidacy is a direct threat to Goober Gordon's Democratic base in this nonpartisan donnybrook, though I hope "the Rev," as folks refer to the brash, youthful Maupin, points out that Gordon is a "DiNO," a Democrat in name only. Gordon will also be challenged by Steve Lory, owner of Blaze Nightclub. So even though Goober has more moolah for the moment, he could be kicked to the curb in a three-way clash (four-way if you count dark horse contender Tim Coomer).
Currently a Phoenix Union School Board member, Maupin brings vision, passion, and actual charisma to the table. He may be young (19 at present), but when you speak to him, you feel like you're talking to man of 35 or 40. The guy's got more stature and gravitas in his pinkie than Goober Gordon's got in his whole pathetic, nebbishy frame. I know some folks will flip when they hear his age. But I have no doubt that if Maupin can goad Goober into a debate, he'll tear Phil a new a-hole.
Maupin's candidacy is historic in many respects. He would be PHX's first mayor of color, and the youngest ever. But I like him because unlike Phil, he has presence. Plus, he would stand for something other than mindlessly rah-rah-ing the city's developers, which is how pipsqueak Phil spends his time. It's time for Phil to go. And now with Lory and Maupin in the race, there's finally a chance to send our joke of a mayor packing.