It's amazing, the amount of influence I have over the Maricopa County Republican Committee.
Hate to brag, but my endorsement this week of right-wing human PayDay bar A.J. LaFaro and the rest of his "crazytown" slate of candidates for MCRC leadership positions worked its evil magic at Saturday's county GOP's statutory meeting.
LaFaro and his wacky crew triumphed at Phoenix's Church of the Nations, where the vote was held, thereby ensuring me column and blog fodder for at least two more years.
Despite a slew of notable endorsements, GOP moderate Lisa Gray drew 46.6 percent to LaFaro's 53.4.
See also: -Tempe Wingnut Is the Ideal Man to Run the County GOP -- and Here's Why -Tent City Inmate Tells New Times Joe Arpaio's Heating Plans Are "Total Bulls**t" -Joe Arpaio's Tent City Heating a "Patent Lie," According to Another Inmate
The margins of loss varied for the other candidates of Gray's "Arizona Party Builders" ticket. You can read the finals for yourself at the far-right blog SeeingRedAZ.wordpress.com.
A longtime conservative activist, former district chair, and perpetual pain in the Tempe City Council's fanny, LaFaro takes over from mad Irishman and outgoing MCRC chair Rob Haney, who has ruled the county GOP with a miniature iron fist for lo these past four years.
Haney hand-picked LaFaro as his boy. A win by LaFaro's slate ensures that the county party will remain redder than a baboon's estrus, as wigged-out as Governor Jan Brewer's criminally insane son, and just flat out broke.
Significantly, in his campaign speech, Walter Dudley, candidate for treasurer on Gray's party-builder slate, asked the county's precinct committeemen and committeewomen to remember that the county GOP had raised less than $62,000 in 2012, hundreds of thousands less than the county Dems.
But ideology means more than common sense and fundraising chops to the crotchety teabaggers who over-populate the county party. Which is why they went with LaFaro, a "constitutional conservative," who apparently harbors a distaste for members of the LGBT community, as I explored in my column this week.
So when I approached LaFaro to congratulate him on his win, my first question dealt with the subject of LGBT GOPers. Specifically, I asked him if gay Republicans are welcome in the county party.
There was a long pause, during which LaFaro stared intently at me. Then, true to his reputation, he went off.
"I tell you what Mr. Lemons, I don't appreciate your type of, if you want to call it journalism, I don't call it journalism," a very tense LaFaro replied. "I didn't appreciate the article defaming my family's name, the `Caballero LaFaro' article that you published. And I don't subscribe to -- as the group in there, they don't subscribe to your trash either.
"I don't like what you write. You don't write articles. So in a way, I thank you for endorsing me, because those people in there, they will do whatever, uh --"
I interjected with a grin, "Whatever I want?"
"Not whatever you want," he shot back.
"I wanted you to win," I offered.
"Why did you want me to win?" he asked incredulously.
"Because," I told him, "things are more fun that way."
Heck, wingnuts like him are my bread and butter. Moreover, LaFaro likely will be a disaster for the county GOP, driving away moderates with his intolerance and extremism, forcing many into the Independent or Libertarian columns.
Or even, Yahweh help us, over to the D-side.
Also LaFaro has an atrocious record as a fundraiser, and is by all accounts, one angry old honky. So it's all good as far as I'm concerned.
LaFaro maintained that he had not read my column, but rather had heard it being discussed on a local radio show, though he couldn't remember which one.
I related my view that often life is more interesting when you disagree with folks. If everyone agreed, things could get really boring, really fast.
Crikey, imagine if Lisa Gray had become chair and she'd made the county GOP more of a big tent for tuskers, drawing in Indies and Latinos, and raising more moolah in the process?
But that's like one or two blog posts, whereas I think LaFaro's crazytown ticket will be good for a plethora of screeds to come.
I returned to my original question about whether gays are welcome in the county GOP.
"I have no comment on your question at this point in time," LaFaro replied.
I wished him well and ambled off. Interestingly, it may have been the Ron Paul supporters who put LaFaro over the top. They showed up en masse, and were being courted heavily by both teams right up until the vote.
Shawn Dow, a longtime Ron Paul-backer and an ardent (and successful) foe of photo enforcement cameras on our streets and highways, noted the growing number of Paul supporters who're becoming PCs. Though the RP-ers don't yet have the numbers to impose their will on local Rs
"We're half the room, but only one-third of the vote," he claimed, observing that many of the ordinary Rs came armed with proxy votes.
But he still thinks the Paul-ites were the deciding factor in LaFaro's win.
"Whichever side pandered the best to the Ron Paul people was what's going to win," he said. "Team LaFaro pandered the best."
Disgraced, recalled state Senate President Russell Pearce was present. I didn't spot him, though he was supposedly responsible for all but one of the wackadoodle resolutions passed by the assembled.
In these, the county Rs rejected any proposed DREAM Act, declared sovereignty for Arizona under the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, called for the repeal of the 17th Amendment, which mandates the direct election of U.S. Senators by the people, and denounced any yet-to-be passed laws granting "amnesty" to illegal aliens.
Don't know which one Pearce didn't author. Maybe the one about teaching "basic U.S. history" in Arizona colleges and universities?
Folks told me that disbarred ex-Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas had been in the house, but I missed him. However, Sheriff Joe Arpaio was present, as were quite a few of his deputies.
When I caught up with Arpaio, I complimented the ancient autocrat by telling him he didn't look a day over 79. (He's actually 80.)
Then I asked him if his campaign had paid Independent sheriff's candidate Mike Stauffer for Stauffer's "assistance" in the 2012 general election.
"Stauffer?" Joe said quizzically. "I met that guy one time."
Which doesn't exactly answer the question.
I talked to him about his posse circling the schools, and the sheriff mentioned that posse members are not POST-certified like his deputies.Still, he continued to maintain that "they have the same authority" as sworn peace officers.
They don't, of course. But the sheriff did explain why posse members dress exactly like his deputies, same uniform, badges, etc.
"I started that 20 years ago, so the public won't know the difference," he said. "There's a deterrence. You know, I don't have enough deputies. So they dress the same, same cars, and they pay for everything."
Fooling the public. It's been a lifelong labor of love for ol' Joe.
What about these phone calls New Times scribe Matthew Hendley has been receiving from people on work-release, saying that they don't have access to a warm room and unlimited blankets like Joe's press releases depict?
"Well, you know what?" Joe said of the prisoners on work-release. "They don't wear the [prisoners'] uniform. They can bring all [their clothes] into the tent. Say it's going to be very hot [sic] tonight. C'mon, you're out working, you're coming back to the tents at night, put on a lot of clothes.
"Now the regular guys in there, they don't go out and work, they can't do that. But we give 'em a lot of blankets. Plus they have that building they can go in, where the showers are."
"But one of the guys who called Matt who was on work release said he couldn't go into that building," I countered.
"Yeah," he said, acknowledging this point. "But they can dress [warm]."
"Can they go back to their homes and get extra clothing?" I asked.
"Well, they should be goin' to work," he said. "It's work release. They're supposed to have a job, that's why the judge says alright we'll give you work release."
Um, so the lesson here is to keep lots of warm clothing at your workplace, in case you get popped for something, and have to do some nights in Tent City during the winter?
Lastly, I ran into businessman Robert Graham, the guy campaigning for chair of the state Republican Party, though it's unclear if he's still being opposed by this fella Doug Little, chair of the LD 23 GOP, who at one point dropped out, and now may be back in.
Even Graham seemed unsure.
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"You know, we've run this campaign positively and we've got huge support, across the state," he told me. "So we're just going to keep doing that, I told our team when we pulled out, you've got to behave as if we've got the stiffest competition on the planet."
Graham has earned support from both right-wingers like Haney and Pearce and non-right-wingers. But in spite of Pearce's endorsement of Graham, some are suspicious Pearce might turn coat, and run from the floor January 26, when the Arizona Republican State Committee meets to elect a replacement for outgoing chair Tom Morrissey.
Is Little a stalking horse for Pearce? Will Pearce try a last-ditch bid on the 26th, backstabbing Graham?
Pearce lies like he breathes, so there's no knowing, until the vote is done, two weeks from Saturday.