Boy State

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For years, Mo's brother, former Congressman and Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall, worked on behalf of the victims of this country's nuclear weapons industry. He litigated on behalf of the "downwinders," those people in southern Utah and northern Arizona who, without any warning, were exposed to fallout from atomic weapons testing in Nevada. Stewart Udall also sued on behalf of the Navajo miners in Arizona and New Mexico who drilled and chipped uranium out of the earth. Both groups, the downwinders and the Indian miners, endured extraordinary levels of cancer in their later lives.

Though Udall's lawsuits were ultimately futile, they led directly to both houses of Congress passing the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act of 2000. One problem: Although the victims in the Four Corners area were entitled to some $90 million, the government never appropriated the funds. The politicians actually sent cancer patients letters saying that, because of lack of funding, the government was sending the terminally ill an IOU.

Two other Udalls, Mark in Colorado and Tom in New Mexico, serve in Congress today and have attempted to secure permanent funding. In a long conversation out on a peaceful porch earlier this year, Steve Udall was visibly touched, describing the plight of those earlier victims of insensitive federal policy in the nuclear age. He has attended the funerals. The survivors, as well as the relatives of those who passed on, are still his neighbors.

While Fred is busy being introduced to those who suffered through the Rodeo-Chediski fire and calling for everyone to hold hands, Steve Udall has spent his entire life among these folks.

Udall's people settled this land in the 1870s. Picking up a family tradition of public service, Steve was elected County Attorney and served longer than any other prosecutor anywhere in Arizona.

Before Rodeo-Chediski broke out, Steve Udall condemned federal fire policy that grew out of the "Big Blow Up" blaze in 1910. Reform of government practices in America's forests has been stymied in Congress. The debate has gone on for years, though it appears that this is the first Duval has heard of any of it.

Where has Fred been, you ask?

Fred went to Washington, D.C., when Clinton and Gore took over. You might think that Duval would have gone to work for his old boss Bruce Babbitt, who took up the cabinet post at Interior. That would have provided Fred with valuable experience on many of the land-use issues in District 1.

But no, Duval's longest single job in Washington — and he held several posts, including liaison between the states and the feds — was as Deputy Chief of Protocol at the State Department.


When foreign dignitaries visited the nation's capital, Fred oversaw the teacups, the place settings and the fresh flowers. This is actually a job in Washington, D.C., and his suave good manners led to postings in the Gore campaign.

What was Steve Udall doing during this time frame?

He was Arizona's leading prosecutor of the looting going on at Native American burial sites. He also served on the board of DNA Legal Services on the Navajo reservation. Steve Udall also helped found the Arizona-New Mexico Counties Coalition, which actively lobbied for federal forest policy reform to avoid the sorts of disastrous fires that everyone except Fred knew were waiting to happen.

By contrast, Duval cashed in on his experience at the White House and became a lobbyist for the well-heeled Washington firm of Hill and Knowlton.

Rather than reestablish himself in Arizona at the end of the Clinton-Gore years in 2000, Duval officially lobbied on behalf of special interests and developers in the nation's capital. He explained to the California media that he wasn't defying the will of the electorate . . . he was working for free.

Duval's long history as a lobbyist — a job he held before joining the Clintons and Gores in D.C. — came in handy when Arizona was awarded new congressional seats after the last census. Duval returned to Arizona and actively worked to shape the district as more urban than rural. In other words, he had no intention of representing the very people whose vote he now courts. The district remained rural despite Fred's very best efforts.

Then Duval tested the waters in a Tucson district where he was raised. But polling in southern Arizona revealed that many undocumented immigrants had better name recognition in Tucson than Fred.

So he reluctantly cast his eye on Congressional District 1 and set out to raise more money than any Democrat in the race.

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Michael Lacey
Contact: Michael Lacey