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A GROOVY KIND OF POLITICIAN

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1. There is absolutely no reason to fear that Arizona is about to fall into the hands of nonconformists.

Without a single exception, all the young candidates still in the running for major office have turned out the way their parents would have wanted them to. In fact, all of them reflect their families' politics with eerie exactness; there is not a rebel among them, and none of them rebelled against family values during the Sixties, either.

Terry Goddard is literally following in the footsteps of his father, former Democratic governor Sam Goddard.

Grant Woods, the Republican candidate for attorney general, grew up in Mesa with Republican parents, and his father, builder Joe Woods, says that he and his son don't differ politically in any significant way today.

Georgia Staton, the law-and-order Democrat who opposes Woods, grew up in a family of moderate, Midwestern Democrats with law-and-order ideas.

Fife Symington's father was a rich, political Republican in the East who was a personal friend of Barry Goldwater's. Fife himself is a rich, political Republican in the West who is endorsed by Barry Goldwater.

Dick Mahoney, a lifelong Democratic activist, is the son of William P. Mahoney, one of the leading lifelong Democratic activists in Maricopa County. Dick is the sole member of this group who threw himself into anything like the classic scenes of political organizing that we associate with the Sixties, and yet, even in his case, it was a reflex. Terry Goddard, who has built an entire career upon the image of "activist," fully as though activism has been the consuming passion of his life, was not a reformer until he became involved in local politics and the gas tax referendum in Phoenix in the early Eighties. What he was up to at Harvard, from which he graduated in '69 and which was one of the more turbulent Ivy League campuses during the Sixties, was that he became a devoted member of the crew team. "That is pretty serious stuff," he says of crew. "My major concern was getting enough sleep and still being able to get to class."

There is no reason to disbelieve him, since this explanation for a lack of early political involvement from Terry Goddard, of all people, is just too silly for him to have made up.

2. There is absolutely every reason to fear that Arizona is about to fall into the hands of rich kids who will never be able to understand a working stiff's problems.

The rich kids themselves would prefer that everyone overlook this, however. They are positively scrambling to disavow that there is anything unusually moneyed or cultured about their backgrounds. For most of them, this is such a reach that it involves their entire bodies.

Georgia Staton, who is the daughter of a Midwestern carpenter and has nothing to deny, doesn't trip over herself rushing into assurances that she is nothing more than a normal person. Neither does Goddard, who has everything to deny.

Here are the equivocations that, during interviews, our candidates eagerly volunteered about themselves.

Fife Symington: "Ours was not a wealthy family in the sense of Dallas.
"I inherited a little bit of money, but not much. I built my business from the ground up. I started with a secretary. I have built it up since 1973, project by project. I have made 99 percent of the money that I have."

(Symington, a developer, is the great-great-grandson of Henry Clay Frick, who was a prominent steel industrialist at the turn of the century. Symington, an only son, grew up as part of the old-money establishment in rural Maryland. His father and mother were educated at Princeton and Barnard; he attended Harvard. Symington and his family thus far have contributed $600,000 to his campaign.)

Grant Woods: "My dad is really the Horatio Alger story. He went from a carpenter's apprentice all the way up through the construction industry.

"When I was growing up, we made the transition from a working class neighborhood to a better neighborhood, but it was still very middle class. He didn't start his own company until long after I left home.

"A myth people have about me is that there was money, but that is because my dad is successful now. My parents gave me the tools to succeed."

(Woods is the only child of Joe E. Woods, who owns one of the largest construction firms in the Southwest. He attended Occidental College in Los Angeles, an outstanding liberal arts university where fees and room and board currently run about $18,000 a year.)

Dick Mahoney: "My family might be called political aristocrats, but any description as social or financial aristocrats is terribly remote from the truth, and I am a manifestation of that reality. I was on work-study as a football player at Princeton, and I had a job throughout half of college.

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Deborah Laake