Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Cruising to an Electoral Victory

Gov. Jan Brewer thanks her supporters at an election night victory party in Tucson. 

Jan Brewer, Arizona’s “Accidental Governor” appears to be on her way to a full four year term after winning a landslide victory in Tuesday’s Republican primary. Brewer is sometimes called the “accidental governor” because she was Arizona’s Secretary of State and she inherited the governor’s office when incumbent Democratic Governor Janet Napolitano was tapped by the Obama administration to be the Secretary of Homeland Security. 
In January of this year most pundits had already written off Brewer’s chances of re-election. 
The state’s economy, largely dependent on the housing industry, has been in the tank since before the beginning of the current Great Recession. While some parts of the country have seen modest economic improvement, Arizona continues to wallow in the depths of the downturn.  
Brewer promoted a special election for a one cent increase in the state sales tax, an anathema to the other taxophobic Republicans in the state legislature. Many of them favor slashing state budgets for education, health care and social services rather than raising taxes. But she got the sales tax passed with the help of teachers and the force of her personality. 
Then in April, the state legislature passed the state’s tough anti-illegal immigrant law, SB 1070, and Brewer signed it. She followed up by standing out in the desert shouting that Arizona’s needs secure borders, saying, “Mr. President, DO YOUR JOB.” 
She hasn’t looked back since. Her poll numbers improved all spring and summer and one by one her Republican opponents dropped out. She cruised to an easy victory. Now she looks to be on track to defeat Terry Goddard, the state’s incumbent Democratic Attorney General. 
In other primary news, John McCain handily defeated JD Hayworth, and former Vice President Dan Quayle’s son, Ben Quayle, appears to have won the Republican primary in Arizona Congressional District 3. Quayle is a political neophyte best known for using the pen name “Brock Landers” when he contributed entries to an adult themed web site called dirtyscottsdale.com (now called just thedirty.com). 
There are more photos of Brewer’s Tucson victory party in my archive.  

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Beginning of the End

John McCain talks to his campaign workers in Phoenix Monday night. 
US Sen John McCain (R-AZ) has spent the spring and summer defending himself in his reelection campaign against insurgent Republican JD Hayworth. Monday night McCain met with his campaign staff and volunteers at his headquarters in Phoenix and thanked them for their work this spring. 
The charge seems to have stuck and Hayworth, who is a pit bull when it comes to election campaigning, hasn’t been able to gain much traction against the long serving Senator. 
Back in February, when Hayworth entered the race, I would have predicted a tough campaign that was going to go down to the wire. Now I think McCain’s going to win. Maybe not win big (in the past he’s won with a 20% or more advantage), but he’s gonna win. 
As for JD Hayworth, maybe he’ll go back to his radio gig. 
There are more photos from tonight’s rally in my archive and available from ZUMA Press

Friday, August 20, 2010

A Long Way Down

Construction workers check the pedestrian rails on the Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge, 900 feet above the Colorado River, connecting Arizona to Nevada on US 93.

Hoover Dam is one of the great engineering marvels on the 20 century. Built at the height of the Great Depression, it created the massive Lake Mead, which has turned into an aquatic playground for Las Vegas, and Lake Havasu, an aquatic playground for Arizona and California. But getting across Hoover Dam on US93 has long been a slow and tortuous drive. 

The approaches are narrow and feature numerous switchbacks. Tourists wandering around the top of the dam make for constant stops and starts and Highway 93 is a part of a NAFTA corridor, currently heavy trucks have to bypass the dam slowing traffic to Las Vegas. Security checkpoints on either side of the dam also slow traffic. It can take an hour to drive from the checkpoint in Arizona to the one in Nevada, and they’re only about 10 miles apart. 

The Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge is supposed to fix that. Motorists who don’t want to dawdle on the dam can just zip across the bridge, bypassing the switchbacks, security checkpoints, pedestrians and rubber neckers. It could (depending on traffic) shorten the drive from Phoenix to Las Vegas by up to an hour. It’s scheduled to open in November of this year. 

Thursday the construction and state authorities let the media wander around the bridge for about 45 minutes to work on construction update stories. It was the middle of the day and the light was terrible but the view was stunning.

There are more photos from the day in my archive.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Pressing the Flesh

Republican Senate hopeful J.D. Hayworth meets voters at a Spending Revolt event in Sun City West this morning. The “Spending Revolt” is the latest in Tea Party inspired populist protests against the Obama administration, a part of the groundswell against the growing federal deficit and America’s allegedly high taxes. 
The Spending Revolt is sponsoring a bus that is going across the country drawing attention to the deficit, trying to drum up opposition to the administration. These events draw Republican candidates like flies to honey. This morning J.D. and Republican Congressman Trent Franks spoke out against the deficit. 

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Final Farewell for a Fallen Hero

Chandler Police Detective Carlos Ledesma was killed on July 28 during an undercover drug sting that went horribly wrong and turned into a three way shoot out between Chandler detectives and rival gangs of drug dealers. Detective Ledesma was laid to rest this morning. 
Media access to the funeral was severely restricted because Ledesma was an undercover detective. Still photographers were not allowed in either the church or cemetery and we were asked not to photograph Ledesma’s coworkers or family members. (There was a live TV feed, but “minders” from the Chandler Police Department controlled the feed.) So we were left to photograph the funeral cort├ęge and mourners who lined the side of the road. 
These people waited in front of the church in 100˚+ heat for two hours to show Det. Ledesma their respect.   

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Elvis Is Still In The Building

Donald Trapani has lung cancer and is in the care of Hospice of the Valley, the largest hospice organization in the Phoenix area, but he doesn't let that stop him from entertaining others. Each week he dons a white jump suit like the one Elvis Presley used to wear and visits nursing homes and hospice units to entertain the patients.
Monday he put on a 45 minute show in the Alzheimer’s unit at The Stratford, an adult living facility in central Phoenix. 
There are more photos in my archive and available from ZUMA Press.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Celebrating Her Freedom

Protesters opposed to SB 1070 and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio carry one of their colleagues on their shoulders after she was released from the 4th Ave Jail in Phoenix this morning. 
She was one of the more than 60 people arrested in Phoenix this week during a series of peaceful sit-ins and demonstrations against the law and the Sheriff. The actions have been planned since April when Arizona Gov Jan Brewer signed 1070. On Wednesday of this week Judge Susan Bolton blocked enforcement of some sections of the bill, including the one that mandates police officers check the papers of suspected illegal immigrants. The judge’s order took some of the wind out of the protesters sails. So rather than demonstrate against the bill, the Sheriff became the target of their wrath.