Okay, okay. The Flash knows that ruminations on the November 3 general election might seem a bit moldy. But what's a gossip monger to do? You see, dear Flashites, the Flash's drop-dead deadline is Tuesday afternoon. Last week's edition was being printed as the election results began to roll in. Hence, the delay in the most important election analysis of all--mine!
But rest assured that this Burst of Light is doing everything possible to see that elections are rearranged to accommodate our schedule. Clearly, this "vote on Tuesday" thing has been specifically designed to mess with New Times' weekly deadline.
Having said that, the Flash won't rest without imparting Election Eve impressions, gleaned from the scenes at two neighboring downtown hotels--the Hyatt (Republicans) and Crowne Plaza (Dems). Hey, who says there's no bipartisanship in Arizona politics?
No election-night foray is complete without a sighting of U.S. Representative J.D. Hayworth, roaming and feeding in his habitat. And what a convolution of flesh he is! That brow is Precambrian! What a magnificent, puffy creature! Pink as a potato(e) and sweating like gin-sodden roof-tarrer, J.D. declared victory over his hapless foe, Democrat Steve Owens, then made the rounds for TV interviews. As always, what J.D. said is not important. What's important is that this guy is a poster boy for coronary occlusion. J.D., big fella, whatever it is you're putting into your body--take a trimester off! We'd hate to see you explode with a gaseous pop of plasma, thereby sending Owens to Congress by default!
Singles scene: Republican headquarters is the place to be if you want to get laid; Democratic headquarters is the place to be if you have to get laid.
A tip for future election nights: If you're hungry, hit the Grand Old Party party first. In fact, skip the Dems altogether, unless you want to feel their pain.
At the Republican fete, the food was good and plentiful: sizzling egg rolls, spinach and cheese turnovers, three different kinds of spicy quesadillas. For dessert, a profusion of waiters brought in silver platters laden with bite-size eclairs, fruit tarts, petits fours--wonderful to wash down with gallons of fresh hot coffee the Republicans offered for free. It's amazing what a little tobacco money will buy!
Visitors to the Democratic HQ got nothing but a few pretzel crumbs.
The Republicans had the Dems whipped for entertainment, too, with the spirited but largely ignored Desert City Six brass band, decked out in red shirts and blue blazers, honking dutifully away in a corner. At the Democrats' party, you got the sound of concession speeches, teeth gnashing and head-bobbing TV wiseguy Mike Watkiss stationed near the entry, hectoring bypassers.
Republican women: face-lifts, tinted hair, business suits. Jane Hull's suit was a trifle too short for her swollen legs, but she looked relaxed for the first time, well, ever! The Flash suggests she wear pantsuits from now on. Betsey Bayless needs to cut her hair a little shorter; she looks sloppy. And is Carol Springer undergoing radiation therapy? Perhaps she and J.D. have been sharing the Gilbey's.
Republican men: face-lifts, tinted hair, business suits--in several cases, it was difficult to tell Republican men and women apart. Reflexive handshaking, thumbs up all around, finger pistols. Former Fife-man Jay Heiler was hanging with AG Grant Woods, who could use a hair consultant as well--Grant's starting to look like his old man. Sheriff Joke Arpaio was glad-handing, leaving an oily wake. AG also-ran Tom McGovern held forth, refused to concede while conceding, held forth some more. The man McGovern vanquished in the primary, John Kaites, reportedly held an impromptu press conference outside McGovern's suite, mugging for the cameras and pontificating on the night's results.
John McCain was slummin', and despite surprising graciousness toward his gnatlike Dem foe Ed Ranger, gave the worst victory speech. He couldn't remember the names of all of his opponents. Humble John's wife, Cindy, had to whisper the name "John Sajek" to him a couple of times before he got it right. But the Arizona race didn't seem to matter much anyway. The Snowy Haired Senator is already running for president. Quoting Ronald Reagan often, he hammered on how it's important for Republicans to push for "lower taxes, less government and government reform."
Democratic women: generally overweight and dowdy. The only well-dressed group was Art Hamilton's entourage. The only well-dressed woman was Janet Napolitano, in red business suit with hip new just-below-the-knee hemline and sensible shoes. Janet, the only prominent Democrat who could declare victory election eve, is apparently the new Elvis. She had an entourage of giggly, excited young women trailing her all night, saying (and the Flash is not making this up), "Where's Janet? Have you seen Janet? We've got to be close to Janet."
Democratic men: tee shirts, jeans, consciences on sleeves. The more prominent ones wore Dockers. Why were so many Paul Johnson supporters weeping? They couldn't have been surprised. Ed Ranger blamed the media on his demise--as if--then went out to pose on his motorcycle so his parents and other relatives could dote on him. The Flash thinks he ran to impress his folks. The Flash saw Gary Peter Klahr, and got the squigglewillies. There seemed to be fewer cripples at the Democratic bash this year.
The Flash encountered Corp Comm hopeful Paul Newman late in the evening, when the Democratic meeting hall was practically deserted. Newman seemed as though he'd just taken a shot to the head from a Louisville Slugger, as though he were stunned to still be in the race. Perhaps he'd had too much caffeine. "It's very close. Too close to call," he chirped. A couple of minutes later, the Flash bumped into him in a hallway. "It's very close!" he blurted. Someone put Paul to bed. (Incidentally, they're still counting ballots in that race. As of Tuesday morning, Newman was trailing GOP fat cat Tony West by 700 votes.)
Outside, an obsequious panhandler inquired into the Flash's electoral sentiments. The Flash demurred but asked the panhandler for his.
"I'm agin they all," the panhandler said with an easy laugh.
The Flash slipped him a buck.
Web of Deceit
It's not exactly a case of "Dewey Defeats Truman," but . . .
The beauty of the Web is that it brings you News As It Happens. Sometimes it brings you news that isn't happening, too--at least, if the Web site in question is Arizona Central, a.k.a. the Arizona Republic.
The Flash stumbled into work around 11 a.m. November 4, fired up the computer, and was stunned to see the headline "West concedes defeat" on Arizona Central. With 99.8 percent of precincts in, the Corporation Commission race was Paul Newman's, crack Corp Comm reporter Bill Muller reported:
"West . . . said he plans to start a new, private-sector, career. 'I don't know what I'm going to do, but I'm going to do something else,' said West."
The obit was premature. The next day, in its print edition, Muller sheepishly half-retracted his previous story, quoting West as saying he never did concede.
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