"I made some stupid mistakes," Eddie Basha says matter-of-factly.
Once again, "chubby grocer" is his full-time occupation. During a ten-minute phone interview Monday from Bashas' Inc. headquarters, the vanquished Democratic gubernatorial nominee employs some brutal adjectives to summarize his performance against Fife Symington--like ignorant, unsophisticated and naive.
In the stupid department, he says, were his comments about same-sex marriages and the state acting as "surrogate" parents to disadvantaged kids. The former was uttered in response to a caller's question during a phone-in radio program. "It was never my intent to promote this publicly," he says. "What I was talking about was discrimination--let's don't discriminate against people."
The "surrogate" remark came during a televised debate with Symington and John Buttrick.
"Well, shit, you know and I know that the word 'surrogate' doesn't mean what Buttrick and Symington defined it to mean. Our teachers are surrogate parents every day a young child is in school. What our communities need to become are surrogates for young people who don't know how to parent. How are they going to learn if we don't teach them?"
Basha says there's only one person to blame: "It was Eddie. Eddie's not a very sophisticated politician. I'm just too damn honest. Somebody says you're going to protect somebody's rights--you bet, stand right up there, even if it's politically not palpable [sic] to say. Well, that's my stupidity."
Then again, there's plenty of blame to go around, and the pesky media deserve their share: "I think if I were to write a book for candidates in the future--not that I would or that I feel qualified--I think that I would say when a reporter asks you a question, why don't you say, 'Let's sit down and let's talk about it.' Find out what the background is of this question. Because oftentimes you answer a question in a stressful setting and then the reporter takes it literally and does something with it."
Like, for example, prints it.--Jeremy Voas
A Dick in the Crowd
The private eye standing in the grand Republican ballroom of the downtown Holiday Inn on election night is grasping a file folder conspicuously stamped "Confidential." Such a document will no doubt appeal to the instincts of the worsted-wool set reveling nearby. The P.I. was one of several sleuths employed by the Symington campaign to dig up dirt on Eddie Basha.
So what's in the file? the rent-a-dick was asked.
He played cloak and dagger. "What information do you have to exchange?" asked the P.I.
Nothing but a theory: Since little damaging personal information about Basha was unleashed, one might conclude that Basha was either squeaky-clean or had been told what would be hurled back if he mounted a frontal attack on Symington's shaky business and political ethics. Basha, some have even said, campaigned like a man being blackmailed.
"I wouldn't be surprised if Eddie was shown a 'hole card,'" the P.I. says with a conspiratorial smile. He then vanishes into the pulsing throng, perhaps for a rendezvous with a well drink.
Given the startling number of state employees who called New Times in the days leading up to the election to blow the whistle on incompetence and corruption in state government, Symington might have been wiser to have the gumshoes investigate his own administration.
Stay tuned.--Jeremy Voas
Fife's Unknown Constituency
The gentleman pushes a grocery cart jammed with crushed cans and plastic bottles. He wears two sweaters and a filthy raincoat, and seems to be in his early 40s.
The man--he says his name is Jim--also wears an "I Voted Today" sticker on his tattered lapel.
"I may be a little down on my luck, but that doesn't mean I can't do my civic duty," says Jim as he shuffles west on Jefferson Street.
Jim explains that he's been living at the nearby homeless shelter on and off for "quite some time." He says he listed the shelter as his address when he registered to vote.
"I got a social security number and all that. I'm an American citizen. I have rights and I like to use them."
Jim gets a bit testy when asked about his choice in the gubernatorial race: "I voted for J. Fife, okay?"
May we ask you why you voted for J. Fife?
"You sure can ask," Jim says as he pushes the cart on up the street.
We forgot to see whether the cart was from Bashas'.--Paul Rubin
A Leckie Sighting
Symington crony George Leckie is in his element, schmoozing with fellow Republicans at the Holiday Inn in downtown Phoenix. It is only 10 or so on election night, but things already look bright for the Fifester.
Leckie, a former campaign treasurer and chief of staff for Symington, knows where most of Symington's political skeletons are buried. In fact, Leckie is one of those skeletons. But he remains a Symington confidant, and can be counted on to flit around any GOP love fest.
In 1988, Leckie nearly turned two innocent bystanders into skeletons when he plowed into them with his Oldsmobile in Paradise Valley. Then he fled the scene.
He also flees the scene on election night, after Channel 12 reporter Lew Ruggiero--one of the best in the business--spots him on the crowded ballroom floor.
Ruggiero instructs his camera operator to get some footage of the elusive Leckie. The camera operator flicks on the spotlight and zooms in. Leckie appears for a moment like a deer frozen in the headlights. Then this master of the hit-and-run hightails it for the nearest elevator.--Paul Rubin
One Republican who isn't wearing a party hat and tooting a horn is state Representative Susan Gerard, who has publicly criticized Governor Fife Symington. Gerard's not looking forward to the upcoming legislative session. "I'm depressed," Gerard announced last week when she answered the phone at her Phoenix home. She says she's "resigned to a miserable two years." With more Republicans elected to the House of Representatives, Gerard's "Sue Nation"--a group of seven moderates who have often said no to Symington--may be rendered impotent or, worse, vilified.
But maybe not, she says. Gerard thinks a similar "nation" comprised of ultraconservatives will be established.
And as for school vouchers? Even if they pass, she says, they'll be tied up in court. She calls vouchers "unconstitutional. No question about it." Even so, "It's going to be an awful couple of years," she says. "Awful. Awful."--Amy Silverman