Ascent of a Woman
Early in February 1988, House Majority Whip Jane Hull paid an unofficial visit to the office of Secretary of State Rose Mofford to warn her that, given the anti-Mecham mood in the Legislature, Mofford was about to become acting governor.
Hull was right. On February 5, the Arizona House of Representatives impeached Governor Evan Mecham, and Mofford, the second in command, took over.
Today, Jane Hull is secretary of state, and J. Fife Symington III is facing a federal trial May 13 on 23 felony counts. By the end of the summer, chances are high that Arizona's sitting governor will be cutting his time in office short.
And Hull could be governor. She knows it may happen, but prefers not to speculate on the odds.
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"My joke--only in small groups," says Hull, "is that my husband gets the paper in the morning and checks to see if I'm governor."
Jane Hull is strategically demure, fully aware that she's in the political spotlight. Mindful of the 11th Commandment of Arizona Republicans--thou shalt not covet the chair of a sitting GOP officeholder--she says she's focusing on her duties as secretary of state. She talks about issues outside the realm of her current office, but only when asked specific questions.
She doesn't lunch in public with more than one person at a time, lest it appear she's formed a kitchen cabinet.
Yet Hull doesn't shirk or look away at the suggestion she'll soon be governor. She wants to know: Is this profile for immediate publication, or are you going to save it? Apparently, other local media outlets are putting pieces on Hull in the can, anticipating her ascension.
And with good cause. For months now, Hull has quietly huddled with friends and advisers, planning a possible transition from the seventh floor up to the ninth floor of the state's executive office tower at 1700 West Washington.
Several politicos are in the wings, offering advice and possibly waiting to join her administration. One is Rick Collins, Hull's chief of staff while she was speaker of the House. He is now director of government relations for Samaritan Health System. Others include Sue Glaw, lobbyist for Blue Cross/Blue Shield, and Republican Representative Sue Gerard, who now serves Hull's former north-central Phoenix district.
Although Jane Hull has been in office nearly 20 years, to date not much of substance has been written about her. Most articles merely caricature her as the Iron Lady, a one-dimensional Thatcheresque superheroine, bitchy enough to get the male members of the House to submit to her will.
All that from the grandmother of eight, a devout Catholic who's been struggling to learn how to play golf for the past six years.
Outside her neighborhood in Phoenix's central corridor, Hull's name recognition is surprisingly low, given the fact she holds statewide office. And even less is known about her politics.
Hull has avoided identification with strong positions for two simple enough reasons. First, the only statewide office she's held is the noncontroversial, largely administrative job of secretary of state. Second, she knows when to keep her mouth shut; she manages to give the appearance of candor while sidestepping political land mines.
An analysis of Hull's record in office--specifically, her 15 years in the Legislature--and interviews with Republican and Democratic legislators, pundits, consultants, lobbyists and Hull herself reveal a Goldwater conservative who, like Goldwater, has moderated her views over time.
Her stands aren't necessarily tooled for votes--particularly Republican votes.
She's not afraid to raise taxes. She does not support the elimination of the income tax. She actually says, on the record, that she supports public education. She waffles on abortion.
Early in her career, Hull made an outrageous remark urging harsh treatment for state prisoners. Chastened from the flap that followed, she hasn't uttered a sound bite of note since.
But she's survived the toughest of times in Arizona politics. The Mecham impeachment. AzScam. The Martin Luther King holiday debacle. Budget cuts and tax hikes and dissent so fractious she yanked a committee chairmanship from the cantankerous Don Aldridge.
Even her political opponents are willing to admit Hull's strengths: She may not set the Capitol afire, but she won't be an embarrassment to the state. She is a conservative without being an ideologue; she's tough but fair and universally admired.
Or is she?
Hard to tell, given Hull's delicate political position. Now even her formerly sworn adversaries have only good things to say about Hull--or nothing at all.
"No, no, I really can't think of anything," says Jim Irvin, Hull's Republican challenger in the 1994 secretary of state race, when asked what kind of person Jane Hull is.
Richard Langerman, past president of the Arizona Trial Lawyers Association, and another presumed Hull enemy, given her longtime support of tort reform, says it all in his response to an interview request.
"I'm not going to say anything not nice about our next governor."
Jane Hull's coif belongs in the Arizona Historical Museum, Hair Wing, somewhere close to Ev Mecham's toupee and Rose Mofford's Dairy Queen do.
The style's not so strange, the typical pouf of a 61-year-old grandma. Rather, it's the color that sends a reporter to her Crayola 64-pack--instead of the Clairol tint charts--to match the hue.
On the day she is to sit for a portrait, Hull wears a khaki suit offset by a hunter green blouse and matching green-framed eyeglasses. A new elephant pin on her shoulder draws praise from staff. The dazzling hair and the neatly perfect ensemble speak volumes about Hull's resolute but chipper demeanor.
Hull is as ordered and even and unflappable as the perfectly matched row of Arizona Highways on the table in the waiting area outside her office.
But she's not stiff or severe. "With me, she's always been engaging," says fellow Republican and political consultant Jason Rose. She's not the type who's looking over your shoulder at a cocktail party, anticipating a more interesting conversation.
Maybe that's because of her Midwestern roots. Jane Dee Bowersock was born and raised in Kansas City, Kansas. She married her high school sweetheart, Terrance Hull. He was on the football team; she was the editor of the school paper. Her father worked as a reporter for the Kansas City Star, and Hull considered a career in journalism, but eventually settled on education. She graduated from the University of Kansas.
Terry became an obstetrician, and in 1962 the Hulls moved to Chinle, Arizona, so he could work on the Navajo Reservation while Jane raised the kids--ages six months, 3 and 5--and taught English. In 1964, the family moved to Phoenix, where Terry did his residency at Good Samaritan Hospital. Jane quit teaching to raise her four children.
A lifelong Republican, Hull says she was particularly inspired by then-senator Barry Goldwater, whom she heard speak at the University of Kansas in 1961.
Although she doesn't recall a time she wasn't interested in politics, Hull didn't become actively involved until the mid-Seventies, when she joined GOP women's groups and began to volunteer on campaigns. In 1978--when Hull's youngest son was already 13--Stan Akers gave up his seat in District 18 to run for the Corporation Commission. Hull ran for the seat and won.
Mentored by the other House member from her district, Majority Leader Burton Barr, Hull pushed for and captured the chair of the important Governmental Operations Committee, and in 1986, when Barr left to run for governor, she was elected House Majority Whip.
Speaker of the House Joe Lane, a Mecham supporter, lost his House seat in the 1988 election, and Hull rode the anti-Mecham wave to victory in the scramble to take his place.
She stepped down as speaker in July 1992, and resigned her legislative seat in October 1993 to run for secretary of state.
She beat Jim Irvin to take the Republican primary for secretary of state in September 1994, winning by a far narrower margin than had been predicted.
Two months later, Hull beat Democrat Pete Rios.
From the day she announced her intention to run for secretary of state, pundits have pondered the possibility that Hull really had her eye on the governor's seat.
After all, recent Arizona political history is rife with tales of such ascension to power.
In 1977, Secretary of State Wesley Bolin became governor when then-governor Raul Castro was named ambassador to Argentina. The next year, Attorney General Bruce Babbitt succeeded Bolin, who died. (At the time, Rose Mofford had been appointed, and thus was ineligible for the post.) And, of course, Mofford moved up in 1988.
All along, Hull has vehemently denied any gubernatorial aspirations. Today, few are bold enough to contradict Hull, given the very real possibility she'll soon be governor.
But in September 1994, during the heat of the general election, longtime Hull adversary and Pete Rios supporter House Minority Leader Art Hamilton said it loud and clear. "I think she's asking for the job with an eye on the job above it," he told a reporter.
The role of secretary of state is just that--secretarial. Hull keeps and distributes public records and administrative rules, appoints and certifies notaries, registers trademarks and serves as the state's election chief. Public policy rarely rears its head.
Any attempt to examine Hull's positions on policy issues necessarily leads back to her days in the House of Representatives, from 1978 to 1993.
Hull demonstrated early on that she was tough, not necessarily pro-woman--and sometimes inflammatory. "We have women in bikinis at the pool while their children are in day care," she said in 1981, when voicing her support of a bill that would have limited subsidized day-care hours.
She also opposed a measure that would have guaranteed women equal pay for equal work in some public sector jobs.
Hull's position on abortion has never been clear.
She tells New Times she supports parental notification for minors, and would probably have supported the recently passed measure banning partial-birth abortion.
But, she continues, "I kind of don't like the fact that the Republicans tend to be so much worried about what's going on in the bedroom. If we're supposed to believe in less government, then I guess I kind of look at it [abortion] as a less-government issue."
So she's pro-choice?
"Yeaaahhhh," she sputters, hesitating. "I've voted both ways, so it's very difficult to pin me down," Hull says. "Actually, both sides dislike me, probably pretty intently. It's very difficult. As a Catholic, it's a very difficult issue to deal with."
Hull's record in office echoes her sentiment. Although she has almost always voted against the pro-choice position, she was instrumental during her time as speaker of the House in keeping abortion-related measures from reaching the floor, unless she was assured they had the 31 votes necessary for quick passage. She maintained that other issues--such as the budget--should take precedence.
Contrary to her shakily pro-choice stance today, in January 1990 she wrote to Planned Parenthood president Gary Hammond and said just the opposite:
". . . Although I have many friends who are active in Planned Parenthood, I have never indicated in my record or in any questionnaires that I am anything but pro-life."
Arizona Right to Life acknowledges that view. Dr. Carolyn Gerster, president of the group's board of directors, notes that Hull had a 100 percent pro-life voting record prior to becoming speaker of the House.
No abortion bills were heard while Hull was speaker.
And what about Hull's statement to New Times--albeit shaky--that she's now pro-choice?
"We would not support her if she's changed, no," Gerster says. "We'd have to hear it from her, though, of course."
Hull is more forthcoming when it comes to taxes. She has raised them before, and if necessary, would raise them again. No, she says, if governor she would not sign a pledge not to raise taxes.
Rick Collins defends his former--and possibly future--boss's votes to increase taxes. Revenue, he points out, wasn't coming into the state at the turn of the last decade like it is now. Arizona's indigent health-care system, AHCCCS, was starting up. The Department of Corrections needed cash.
"Those were tough decisions for a conservative," Collins says. "To have to look at what was needed versus what was politically correct."
Hull says she supports Governor Symington's tax policies, but only to a point. It is rumored that Symington will push a 1998 ballot initiative amending Arizona's Constitution to abolish the state income tax--either as a plank in his campaign platform, or as his swan song.
Hull does not endorse that idea.
"I basically support and have applauded the fact that he [Symington] has been able to cut tax rates," she says. "As far as abolishing the income tax, I believe you have a three-legged stool, and it's better to keep taxes low in property, sales and income . . . than it is to abolish one."
She holds that income and property taxes are more stable than sales tax. If the state were to undergo a recession, Hull says, sales-tax revenue would dip and that would be problematic without an income tax.
Hull also differs from Symington on the subject of school finance. Tim Hogan, director of the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest, says "we'd have a shot" at equalizing public school funding and satisfying a 1995 state Supreme Court ruling with Hull--or, for that matter, anyone but Symington.
"Hull has gone on record saying she doesn't think what they [the Legislature and governor] did is good enough, doesn't satisfy the court decision," Hogan says. "So that's a step up for us."
Hull affirmed that position to New Times.
Like most good Republicans, for years Hull has supported the notion of tort reform. She repeatedly voted for and spoke about such measures, which would limit the liability--most significantly, of insurance companies and doctors--in malpractice and other wrongful-action lawsuits.
Trouble is, Hull's husband is an obstetrician, part of the class that stands to benefit greatly from such legislation. Hull is acutely aware of this perceived conflict--she herself points it out first in conversation--but dismisses it quickly.
According to state law, a legislator is only held accountable for a conflict of interest if the affected class is 10 or fewer. Obviously, that's not the case here. And a search of Maricopa County Superior Court records reveals Hull's husband has not been sued since the mid-Seventies.
Legally, Jane Hull is clean. But ethically, her leadership on tort-reform legislation may raise some issues.
In any event, Hull observes, the point is now moot. Terry Hull recently retired.
In all likelihood, Jane Hull will become governor without publicly having to take a firm stand on many important issues, says Cindy Resnick, a Tucson Democrat who retired from the state Legislature in 1990 to launch an unsuccessful campaign for U.S. Senate. She maintains that it takes a statewide race to reveal a politician's true colors.
"Although the secretary of state race is a statewide race, I don't think it enjoys the same degree of attention," Resnick says, "and I think that the quality of the officeholder is really shaped by a campaign."
In January 1982, Jane Hull said something so bold, so ruthless, so downright cruel, it would likely make even Joe Arpaio blush.
During a House Appropriations Committee hearing, Hull suggested that "maybe the swamp coolers [at the newly built Perryville prison] will break down. That might get rid of some of our prison population."
The quote was picked up by national wire services, along with Hull's later clarification: "Suffocate them to death. I really believe if we made it harder on them, they wouldn't be there."
Rick Collins cringed then, he says, but now admits the comment has "probably got her more political votes than anything else she's said."
And from unlikely places. Former state representative Becky Jordan, a moderate Republican generally considered to be in favor of basic human rights, was working on the House staff at the time.
"She became my hero right then," Jordan says. "I think it's just because she was so outspoken about it, not because I particularly agree with the issue. So, I thought, 'Goddang, that is one tough little mama!'"
Hull now laughs at the memory--even brings it up herself--but the statement wasn't a laughing matter to everyone.
Paul Williams, a prisoner then serving an eight-year sentence for robbery, filed a lawsuit against Hull, referring to her as "Frau Jane D. Hull" and accusing her of advocating concentration-camp-style accommodations. Hull disturbed Williams' "emotional tranquillity," the prisoner claimed.
The lawsuit was later dismissed.
Neither Williams nor Hull could have predicted that her suggestion would all but come to fruition with Maricopa County's Tent City. But unlike Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who has made a name for himself--and an 85 percent approval rating--out of such outrageous statements, Hull toned it down after that.
But by no means did she shut up. Rick Collins was hired as a House staff analyst at the same time Hull was first elected to office. Collins, who would eventually become Hull's chief of staff when she was elected speaker, chuckles, recalling Hull's first days in the Legislature.
She was a thorn in the side of leadership, always questioning authority, Collins says. Looking back, he's not surprised at Hull's success.
"The troublemakers of today," Collins says, "usually are the ones who float to the top in a few years."
Cindy Resnick says she credits Hull's hard-as-nails veneer to the difficulty of serving in a leadership role as a woman. Resnick sat on Hull's Governmental Operations Committee.
At the time they served together, Hull and Resnick were adversaries on many issues. But today, Resnick won't say a thing against Hull.
"It was a tough time to be a woman and be in that position," Resnick recalls, "so in hindsight, I give her a lot of credit for what she was trying to do. The problem, at the time, was I think that she was perceived as too heavy-handed. It wasn't expected of a woman that they would be both intelligent and dynamic at the same time, or that they were even capable of running these committees."
Over the years, Hull cemented her reputation as the "Iron Lady"--with regard to large matters of policy and politics, and even down to the picayune.
A lobbyist who worked as a legislative page in the early Nineties recalls, "I had to deliver these papers to the legislators in the morning, and her newspaper had to be placed on her chair in exactly the right spot, or she'd come down and yell at us."
But Rick Collins insists "Iron Lady" doesn't do Hull justice.
"It's going to sound corny," Collins says, "but I think it's more that she always tried to act with the best interest of the institution in mind."
And in the late Eighties and early Nineties, the institution--and the state--was undergoing tough times.
First, Mecham was impeached.
Tony West--now state treasurer, but at the time a state senator--takes half the credit for Mecham's demise, and gives the other half to Hull, who seems to have had no gubernatorial aspirations at that time.
In October 1987, Hull and West, also of District 18, attended a legislative district meeting to announce their belief that Mecham should resign. They were the first Republicans to do so.
West recalls an "unruly mob" of more than 250 people, "people we have never seen before or since."
Hull and West gave their talk, then faced the barrage of angry Mechamites.
"That was the beginning of the end for Governor Mecham," West says. "In that crowd, it was so nasty I can remember one guy in the middle of the aisle stuck out a big, burly arm that had a hangman's noose in it. He looked us both right in the eye, and said, 'Hang the bastards. They have crucified our Christ child.' And then it went downhill from there."
West was impressed with the way Hull handled herself in an awkward--possibly even dangerous--situation.
"She never flinched. Never wavered."
The Mecham impeachment was difficult, but Hull recalls AzScam as the toughest time in her political career. She allowed her friend, Representative Jim Hartdegan, to give a floor speech announcing his resignation, after it was alleged he accepted bribes in the 1991 sting operation.
Politics aside, the state's economy was a shambles during the years Hull served as speaker. More than once, Hull had to push budget cuts and tax hikes.
Observers say leadership moderated Hull, with regard to both her presentation and her politics. She earned a reputation during her time as speaker of the House for her ability to build consensus, showing that whatever her views on issues are, there's likely to be some room for movement.
Carol Kamin, executive director of the Children's Action Alliance, says, "I saw tremendous growth in those years in her ability to bring people together."
When she left the Legislature in 1993, Hull told reporters she was tired of the "meanness."
Much has been made of her integrity for resigning her office early to run for secretary of state.
But few recall that the resignation allowed her to raise money for a statewide race. That year, Hull had sponsored legislation prohibiting officeholders from fund raising during the legislative session.
Not many elected officials are eager to show off their campaign-finance reports, but that's what Jane Hull is doing. She's sitting before an oversize computer monitor in her average-size office, punching keys and clicking her mouse until she finds the Hull '98 committee report.
One of Hull's major accomplishments as secretary of state was putting campaign-finance reports on the Internet, making public access easier, and she's proud of her work. Her '98 report's not awfully interesting, anyhow.
Her latest campaign filing--reflecting contributions through November 1996--shows she's picked up close to $30,000 in contributions, from most of the usual suspects.
What is interesting is that in the past few months, Hull has carefully raised her public profile. Last December, she raked in about $70,000 at a luncheon fund raiser at Arizona Biltmore. That figure is not yet recorded in her latest campaign-finance report.
Republican consultant Jason Rose says it's the best fund raiser he's been to in a long time. Dan Quayle was the guest of honor, 600 people attended and the host committee was a Who's Who of Arizona Republicans.
"And they all showed, unlike what usually happens," Rose says. "Every single one of them."
Even Governor Symington, who spoke.
Of course, the fund raiser ostensibly was held to benefit Hull's 1998 secretary of state campaign. But under Arizona law, campaign war chests can be transferred to races for other offices.
The supporters in attendance knew that.
Jane Hull says she won't challenge Symington in 1998 if he is still the sitting governor. Conceivably, she could wind up using the money merely to secure a second term as secretary of state.
In Arizona politics--particularly during the reign of Fife Symington--stranger things have happened. Not everyone is betting on a 1997 Hull governorship.
Longtime Democratic political pundit Rick DeGraw, who ran Eddie Basha's unsuccessful campaign for governor in 1994 and will most likely run Basha's campaign in 1998, says he's planning to go up against Symington, not Hull.
"I don't agree that Fife is going to be gone. I know that is the political wisdom, but I don't agree with it," DeGraw says.
"I see no reason that he would voluntarily resign, even if he's found guilty, as long as he's appealing it, and anybody who tells me that this Legislature would force him out of office is nuts. So I don't know how the hell he gets out of office.
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