The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors will choose an interim replacement for departed County Attorney Andrew Thomas in a few days.
Here's some predictions about who won't get the gig:
1. SATAN: Left, in photo.
2. JESUS: Right, in photo.
3.. BILL MONTGOMERY: Andy Thomas clone with a bit more personality than Andy (that's damning with faint praise, as they say) and an admirable military background (Gulf War vet). Ran against Terry Goddard for Attorney General a few years ago and (like Thomas before him) got his conservative Republican butt handed to him, despite a 150,000-plus voter registration edge. Knee-jerk law-and-order type. Will kiss Sheriff Joe and Big Dave Hendershott's white butts any chance he gets. Will run, for sure, in the November general election against whomever the Board of Supervisors picks as interim MCA.
4. PHIL MACDONNELL: We found it almost humorous that Andy's hand-picked chief deputy submitted his application to the board Has been studiously invisible (both inside and outside the office) during Thomas' madly contentious tenure, choosing to keep his head down at all times. If Baseline Killer defendant Mark Goudeau was a member of the Bar, he would have as much support among the five-member board as Phil -- none.
5. CLEVE LYNCH: Guy does know how to prosecute a murder case. Hell, he's been doing it since Richard Nixon was about to crumble to the Watergate scandal. Juries tend to like him. But, jeez, Cleve is a much better golfer than he is a public speaker (he's actually quite good--at golf, that is). Why he put in for this thankless, if powerful, job is beyond us. We'll chalk it up to his dry sense of humor. Oh, we did learn in his application that "Cleve" is really "Edwin."
6. ANDREW PACHECO: We met him during his ill-fated Republican Primary run against Andy Thomas, et al. in 2004, and liked him. He's reasonably reasonable, reasonably ambitious, and was reasonably successful as a prosecutor with both the County Attorney's and U.S. Attorney's offices before sneaking off to private practice a few years ago. So very reasonable. So what's the hitch? Doesn't seem to have the necessary political juice to pull this one off.
7. BOYD DUNN: The city of Chandler's longtime mayor seems to be a favorite of supes Chairman Don Stapley (with Rick Romley coming on strong in the backstretch). His resume to the board tells us all we need to know about his bonafides to be County Attorney -- he lists his criminal law experience at "two percent" (with his divorce-law practice accounting for the vast majority of his other legal work). Even Andy Thomas had a bit more (just a tad) criminal-law experience when he assumed office. Dunn doesn't seem like a bad egg and, at least until recently, spoke loudly against Joe Arpaio's publicity-driven "immigration sweeps." But the next county attorney should at least know something about Title 13, Arizona's criminal statutes.
8. JUSTIN PIERCE: Employment lawyer.
9. JOEL THOMPSON: Criminal-defense lawyer. Sole practicioner with dicey past connections to the Phillips & Associates law firm.
10. HAROLD NEWMAN: Appreciate his background as a decorated New York City officer with the housing police back in the late 1980s and early 1990s. But he, too, has zero name recognition in these parts. Sole practicioner. Says he's an "Independent," which means, by law, the board can't choose him even it wanted to. Oh, well.
11. CHRISTINE MULLENEAUX: Respected county court commissioner with excellent references, including retired Judge Ronald Reinstein. Has done good work in child-dependency cases. Doesn't have a chance, but we'd love to see her become a Superior Court judge sooner than later.
12. LISA SHANNON: Sole practicioner who primarily does criminal-defense work. Also, lists self as a Democrat. That will be a no-go, legally speaking. Board has to pick a Republican to replace GOP's Thomas.
13. MIKE BAILEY: Kiss of death that it is, we are convinced that this guy would make a fine county attorney. He's a good family man with a law-and-order bent (though he's been doing criminal-defense work for a few years now) that led him to take a number of accused murderers and rapists to trial as a deputy county attorney. He's the real deal, not the I-want-to-be-President-of-the-World-after-I-defeat-the-`nexus-of-evil'-in-Maricopa-County lame-dick who just resigned to run for Arizona Attorney General. Got the political bug late in the 2004 campaign cycle, and mounted a 11th-hour campaign against frontrunner and eventual winner Thomas in the Republican primary. We've heard he's got at least one supporter among the supervisors.
14. RICK ROMLEY: Longtime County Attorney gave us special assistant Barnett Lotstein, one of the all-time sycophants. That should be enough to eliminate him from contention. But we sense that Barnett won't be around for long if Romley reclaims his office. We had our issues with Rick during his tenure, but he's looking awfully good after the Thomas/Arpaio debacle. Speaking of which, we'd love to be a fly on the wall during the first conversation (if indeed there is one) between ex-Marine Romley and the increasingly erratic sheriff. And, just maybe, Romley will be able to coax his onetime chief deputy (and now a universally respected Superior Court judge) Jim Keppel back into the fold. We'd like that.
15. JAY BECKSTEAD: Saved our favorite for last. Never heard of this guy before yesterday, but you gotta love him. Starts his job app by urging the board to appoint Rick Romley as the right guy "to put the train back on the tracks." Then also begs the board not to appoint Bill Montgomery who, according to Beckstead, "has stood silently by, applauding, while the Constitution was tread upon by David Hendershott and Andrew Thomas." Then asks the board to appoint him if they don't chose Romley. Former prosecutor who worked for both Thomas and Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk and writes, "In contrast to Thomas, [Polk was] direct and honest." To borrow a cliche, sounds like the kind of guy we'd like to share a beer with. Maybe Romley will take note of Beckstead's unusual endorsement if he gets the appointment.