News

The Phantom of the Ninth Floor

You're Rose Mofford, a governor who's become bored with her job.

With eight months more to serve, you've become detached and disinterested. Through your own listless and inept performance, you've turned yourself into nothing more than a public freeloader.

If you do any work for your $75,000-a-year salary, there's no one who'll vouch for it.

The legislature desperately needs some leadership. The state faces a fiscal crisis. Taxes must be raised. The abortion issue must be settled. The Martin Luther King holiday issue still hangs around the state's neck like a millstone.

And where is the governor of a state that has become a national joke?

Nobody can tell. You have become a governor in hiding.

Political reporters have wearied of attempting to probe your views on state business. Sadly they realize you have none. And by now you have removed yourself so completely from the political process, your views don't matter.

The other day you made a rare appearance to sign a bill in public.
While signing the bill, you looked up and asked the reporters: "Why haven't I seen more of you lately?" You can't have asked that question seriously. You must realize you've become superfluous. You've established yourself as the governor who goes to ball games and waves at the crowd. Sadly, you have become a comic figure.

The reasons for your fall are obvious. You have made no attempt to be more than a ceremonial governor.

There are no Rose Mofford press conferences. There are no speeches filled with ideas on important issues. You have created no real presence.

Your refusal to accept a central role turned this into a state whose citizens have no sense that there is a governor in office.

For years, you were able to trade on the perception that you were "Good Old Rosie."

You had been a softball player from Globe, a great friend of Joe Hunt, and a superspeed typist. Only in Arizona would those attributes have been enough to lead you on a path to become governor.

When you moved in from the secretary of state's job, there were some who had hopes. Your friends believed you might be able to heal the state's emotional wounds suffered during Evan Mecham's impeachment and ouster.

Nothing happened. You never made a single significant move.
So you have become a tragic figure. Having sealed yourself off from the battlefield, there's no longer any effective role for you to play.

The fault is yours alone. Nobody tried to stop you from doing your job. They simply waited for you to take charge. Everyone waited for you to lead, but they finally got the message. You never had any intention of doing so.

Your opportunity to be effective has passed. So now it no longer matters to the legislature or the voters what you think or what issues you're willing to back.

Your bodyguards can make your life comfortable, though isolated.
Your staff can keep you apart from the media. That kind of existence must have been very appealing to you at first.

But your life as governor has settled into a life of quiet and impotent royalty.

You are driven by limousine from restaurant to ball game and then home again, without ever having to do anything but wave at the small crowds as you pass by.

It's no wonder Sam Goddard, the Democratic chairman, and his son Terry, the mayor of Phoenix, realized a short time ago that they could pressure you into dropping out of the governor's race.

You have closed the door on your own career by becoming a phantom governor. In the political arena, nothing you do counts anymore. You have become a figure of the past.

And there's all that time between now and January left for you to cut ribbons, attend special functions and go through the charade.

You're Rose Mofford, the phantom of the ninth floor.

You've established yourself as the governor who goes to ball games and waves at the crowd.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Tom Fitzpatrick