After Election Day, AZ's Far Right Now Has a Fight on Its Hands

Congresswoman-elect Kyrsten Sinema's slim victory over Teabagger Vernon Parker offers an apt analogy for the 2012 election cycle.

Why? Because voters of the Ninth Congressional District narrowly elected an unapologetic bisexual liberal over a Tea Party Republican whose lips are permanently glued to Sheriff Joe Arpaio's fanny.

This, after the Republican National Congressional Committee threw just about everything dumb Sinema has ever said or done in her lifetime — which is a lot — at her.

From once supporting Ralph Nader (more anathema to Dems than Rs, by the way) to "spinning" at an anti-war protest with a Wiccan pal to calling herself a "Prada socialist" to accusing non-working women of "leeching off their husbands and boyfriends," Sinema's über-lefty doings were shoved in voters' faces by the GOP, night after night in ad after ad.

Still, they went for her over the Teabagger. And all I've got to say is, thank God for redistricting.

There's a national anti-Tea Party trend, evident in President Barack Obama's stunning 332-electoral-vote win over lame, Leave It to Beaver Republican Mitt Romney.

Hell, Obama won the popular tally by more than 3 million votes (or 3 percentage points) and he even took Florida!

No wonder U.S. House Speaker John Boehner recently told ABC News, "We don't have a Tea Party caucus to speak of in the House."

Tea Party? What Tea Party?

Of course, the Teabagger Rs are still around. Most of the Tea Partiers elected to the House in 2010 were re-elected.

But they suffered some big defeats, like that of Florida extremist and Fox News darling Congressman Allen West, whose crash and burn was particularly delicious, considering that there's nothing the racist Tea Party loves more than an African-American touting its ideology.

You know, like Vernon Parker.

Losing Republican U.S. Senate candidates Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock, both Tea Party favorites, did national damage to the TP and GOP brands with their Troglodyte-like comments on rape. Republicans are lambasting their Tea Party brethren as the cretins who cost them the presidential election.

Saturday Night Live star Jay Pharoah pretty much summed up the situation with a post-election portrayal of President Obama on "Weekend Update":

"Republicans . . . this election was yours to lose. Eight percent unemployment, $5 gas, I even gave you a one-debate head start. And, I mean, on top of that I'm black."

Nationally, it was a good day to be from the party of FDR, JFK, and LBJ. Dems added to their lead in the U.S. Senate (though not by a filibuster-proof margin, drat) and picked up seats in the U.S. House.

And now the election is over, and Hispanics helped Obama attain victory yet again, this time with 71 percent of them voting for the president.

Which is why you see Republicans, such as South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, a onetime proponent of ending the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of birthright citizenship, scrambling to come up with immigration-reform legislation with Democratic New York Senator Chuck Schumer.

Message to pro-immigrant activists: Now is the time to push hard on your "friends" in the White House and Congress and secure a fair deal for the 12 million undocumented in our midst.

Demilitarization of the U.S.-Mexico border would be nice, too. This way, we wouldn't see U.S. Border Patrol agents shooting each other in the desert, as was apparently the case in Nicholas Ivie's "friendly fire" death on October 2.

I won't hold my breath waiting for that. Still, comprehensive immigration reform suddenly is doable.

Sadly, the brown wave that helped Obama was more like a brook in Arizona, which moved from red to a faint purple in 2012 — with the election of more Democrats to the U.S. House, the narrow loss by Democrat Rich Carmona in the U.S. Senate race, and Arpaio's winning by his narrowest margin ever — but AZ is nowhere near blue.

Specifically, in Maricopa County, the student and union-fueled coalition Adios Arpaio registered more than 34,000 new voters, and Citizens for a Better Arizona, the group responsible for handing a pink slip to disgraced former state Senate President Russell Pearce in last year's recall election, signed up 12,000 voters to the Permanent Early Voting List and collected about 3,700 ballots.

Valiant efforts. But that's just spitting in the ocean when you're talking about a county with as many residents as the state of Oregon.

Maricopa County has more than 1.85 million registered voters, and more than 1.3 million of them voted in the race we all care about the most (or should), the county sheriff's contest.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons