Best Self-Own 2023 | Wendy Rogers | Megalopolitan Life | Phoenix

Republican state Sen. Wendy Rogers is the master of the self-own. From calling herself an Oath Keeper to comparing herself to Kyle Rittenhouse to supporting the white-nationalist "great replacement theory," Rogers is nuttier than a racist Snickers bar. In 2022, the Republican-controlled Arizona Senate censured the election-denying Trump-worshipper after she called for gallows to be built for traitors and tweeted out antisemitic tropes vilifying Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who is Jewish. She later went all Alex Jones on us by suggesting that a mass shooting in Buffalo, N.Y., was a false-flag operation. But one of her best self-owns happened earlier this year when she took out a restraining order against Arizona Capitol Times reporter Camryn Sanchez, who had the temerity to knock on Rogers' door while investigating whether Rogers actually lives in her district. Sanchez fought the order, and after a hearing where Rogers admitted that she'd knocked on "tens of thousands" of doors as a candidate for public office, a Flagstaff judge dismissed the restraining order. Rogers was pilloried for her foolishness. Did wrong-way Wendy finally jump the shark? You would've thought so, but in July, Rogers tweeted out a video containing X-rated activities involving Hunter Biden. She later took down the video, but some opined that she may have violated Arizona's revenge porn law by posting it in the first place. Just when you think Rogers can't go lower, she slides right into the septic tank.

The only thing dumber than Democratic State Rep. Stephanie Stahl Hamilton's wacky prank of hiding Bibles in the state House lounge was the Republicans' overreaction to it. The Tucson Democrat was caught on camera picking up Bibles lying around the lounge and hiding them beneath cushions and in the refrigerator. Supposedly this was her way of making a point about the separation of church and state. Granted, that's kind of weird, but so what? Hamilton, who's a Presbyterian minister, apologized for her behavior. But that wasn't good enough for the Republicans, who tried to expel her from the House, but they fell a few votes short. They did have the votes to censure her, though, but just barely. Apparently, some of the GOP members were afraid they may have inadvertently sat on the Word of the Lord, though sources tell us that at least one nasty case of hemorrhoids was miraculously cured in this fashion. Praise Jay-sus.

Traditionally, the Arizona Legislature is a vast reservoir of bad behavior, especially by Republicans, who have controlled the state House and Senate for all of recent memory and have raged uncontrollably and without accountability for so long they no longer recognize that their time of unlimited power will soon be past tense. During the last legislative session, Republicans largely doubled down on extremism, despite their dwindling majority. But something happened when it came to expelling state Rep. Liz Harris, a fellow GOPer from Mesa who invited a conspiracy theorist to testify at a committee hearing. The conspiracy nutbag then proceeded to accuse both Democrats and Republicans of taking bribes from Mexican drug cartels. Granted, if the QAnon crackpot had taken aim only at Dems, the outcome might have been different, but she was not so discriminating, and Harris was on the hook for this nonsense. An unusual bipartisan coalition in the state House voted to expel Harris from the chamber. In some ways, the act marks a turning point for Arizona politics. Things have changed radically since the days of the Republican supermajority in the legislature. Right-wing radicalism will not always be rewarded, and if the Dems take control of one or more houses of the legislature, it will be rewarded no more.

Prop. 308's passage in 2022 undid some of the damage wrought by state Sen. Russell Pearce's Prop. 300, which was passed in 2006 and denied in-state college tuition to so-called "Dreamers," the children of immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents. Prop. 308, the brainchild of Mesa Republican Tyler Montague, opened up in-state tuition to anyone who's graduated from an Arizona high school. Montague courted both Republicans and Democrats in the effort, which was approved by voters by more than 51%. It's part of the healing process after more than a decade of hate directed at people with brown skin by nativist politicians. Montague's impassioned drive offers an example of how conservatives and liberals can cooperate in the quest for equality for all people.

Though Mayor Kate Gallego and the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce would have you believe there is zero shortage of water in the Phoenix area, the reality of the drought and climate change is as plain as Lake Powell's "bathtub ring." Gov. Katie Hobbs's announcement earlier this year of a groundwater shortage limiting development in outlying cities should be a wake-up call: It's time for all of us to work to conserve this precious resource. But there is no such call from our leaders. Which is why the Rio Verde Foothills fight for drinking water is such a bad omen for the future. Scottsdale stopped supplying H2O to the unincorporated area at the beginning of the year, and it took till June for the legislature to cobble together a temporary fix that will give Rio Verde water for about three years. So, what does the subdivision do after that, turn into a pumpkin? No, because a pumpkin, like all living things, needs water to survive. The short-sightedness and cowardice of Arizona's political class offer no solutions. It remains to be seen if average citizens can fill this void in leadership. We need to, because the politicians are fiddling while Arizona runs dry and agribusiness and developers suck up what's left of the state's moisture.

That boy ain't right. And by "boy," we mean grown-ass, 25-year-old, anti-gay, antisemitic redneck bigot Ethan Schmidt-Crockett, who's made quite a name for himself through a series of self-recorded threats, criminal acts and stunts that haven't been rivaled since baby-killer J.T. Ready was still above ground. Take a look at Schmidt-Crockett's résumé. He's on record for harassing a Mesa wig shop that caters to patients who have lost hair due to chemotherapy; trampling a Target Pride display and then trying to sell the shoes he did it with for $10,000 online; targeting local synagogues; acting the fool at a Barnes & Noble and a local Church of Scientology; promising to "hunt" LGBTQ+ people, then making the same threat about Jewish people; and so on. The dude is quite obviously "tetched," as folks say down South, and probably in need of some serious meds. Or at the very least, some quality time in the pokey, which he has so far been able to avoid. Is he just another alt-right social media troll or something more sinister? Don't let his clownishness mislead you. J.T. Ready, Arizona's most infamous neo-Nazi, had a similar reputation for media stunts. Schmidt-Crockett's combination of menace, threats and need for attention may end very badly for all concerned.

There are Republicans, and then there are Republicans who know better. Blake Masters, who ran for U.S. Senate in 2022 against incumbent Democrat Mark Kelly and lost, should know better. The Stanford graduate, venture capitalist and protégé of tech billionaire Peter Thiel sure ain't dumb, so when he embraced the far-right "great replacement theory," which posits that Democrats are trying to "replace" white folk with nonwhite immigrants to the U.S., he knows exactly what he's doing and the kind of racism and hatred that he's stirring up. During the GOP primary, Masters accused "the left" of wanting to "change the demographics of this country," adding, "They want to do that so they can consolidate power and so they can never lose another election." In other words, if you're a bigot, vote for Masters because he's pro-white, right? This is the kind of racist crap Southern politicians used to spew during segregation. We'd advise Masters, who remains politically ambitious, to do better, if we thought it'd do any good. Hopefully, his words will stick to him like Scotch tape for the rest of his career in politics.

If some wicked-ass scientist combined the DNA of Rob Zombie, Wes Craven and Clive Barker, added in some stem cells, and injected it all into an artificial womb, the result might resemble Gothic drag king Daddy Satan (real name Noelle Cañez). When the Mesa resident is not onstage drooling blood and scaring the bejesus out of audiences, she's helping to organize her LGBTQ+ pals into a pro-drag army to take on some real evil — specifically, Republican attempts to ban drag and otherwise torment the gay community with hostile legislation at the Arizona State Capitol. Cañez's Daddy Satan persona is truly heart-attack-inducing, but her message is righteous and uplifting. "Drag is all about self-expression, love and teaching people that it's okay to be gay, straight, trans, a performer — it doesn't matter," Cañez told Phoenix New Times in January. She pointed out that there is "a huge drag community" in Arizona, and that many, including straight people, enjoy the art of drag. "If drag is limited, not only will people see less art, they will not be able to express themselves." Thankfully, pro-LGBTQ+ Gov. Katie Hobbs made sure those hateful bills bit the proverbial dust. Now it's time for Daddy Satan to run for the state legislature.

Best Defamation Suit We'd Like to See the Discovery On

Norton v. Schweikert

Comic books, peach emojis, insinuations about a rival's sexuality? Hey, it's all par for the course for your average vicious Arizona Republican primary. It's also part of a lawsuit filed by GOPer Elijah Norton against U.S. Rep. David Schweikert, who bested Norton by about 10,000 votes in the 2022 Republican primary for the 1st Congressional District. As you would expect, the Norton campaign made much of Schweikert's being sanctioned by the U.S. House with an official reprimand in 2020 over the misuse of his office's funds and campaign finance violations. The lawmaker admitted to 11 allegations and agreed to pay a $50,000 fine. In 2022, the Federal Election Commission fined him $125,000 over similar accusations. All this and more was detailed in a comic book published by Norton's campaign. For its part, Schweikert's campaign put out mailers featuring a photo of Norton, his arms around another man, with the header "Elijah Norton Isn't Being Straight With You." There were also road signs featuring the photo, stating "Elijah Norton, unfit for Congress." (A peach emoji was apparently used by Schweikert loyalists online to imply ... something.) Schweikert's pulled this sort of smear in other campaigns, but this time, Norton wants him to pay. Norton hired bulldog attorney Dennis Wilenchik and filed a defamation suit, asking for $300,000 in damages, saying the smear is false and has caused emotional distress. The suit was still ongoing as Best of Phoenix went to press. If it continues, we'd love to see the discovery, especially Schweikert's deposition, because the Congressman has a lot of explaining to do.

How did the dodgiest Arizona Attorney General of recent memory slime his way back into public office, besting incumbent Democrat Kathy Hoffman to become Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction, a position Horne once held before moving over to the AG's office in 2011? Hoffman was a bright, fresh face, a former teacher and speech-language pathologist — not a professional politician. And her administration earned plaudits from educators. Horne, on the other hand, was plagued with ethical issues and accusations of using the AG's office for campaign purposes. The low point of his tenure as AG was an FBI tail on his car as he headed for an alleged nooner with his alleged mistress. Agents spied Horne-dog hitting another car in the parking lot adjacent to a Pita Jungle. He later pled no contest to a vehicular hit-and-run, a misdemeanor. Horne's wrong-way, down-ballot win in 2022 can be blamed on two factors: name recognition and the laziness of our local Fourth Estate, which failed to inform the public of Horne's checkered past. Has Horne grown an ethical bone in recent years? Don't bet on it. At least he's not taking up space in the AG's office, where he could do far more damage.

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