Arizona's Fifth Congressional District -- the Fightin' Fifth!
I was born there. I've lived most of my life there. I went to high school there -- more on that in a bit -- and I still spend a solid chunk of my time there most weekends. I live a ways northwest of there at the moment, but my permanent address is there and that's where I'm registered to vote. It's my district. And Tempe may not be my favorite place on Earth, but it's my hometown.
So, like most people from Tempe, regardless of political party or stripe, I like Harry Mitchell. He's widely regarded as the greatest mayor the city ever had; City Hall is named after him and has a 30-foot-high abstract statue of him out front. He and I went to the same high school, forty-some years apart, and he was a teacher there, though he retired four years before I started there.
In short, the man was a dedicated educator, and a good mayor, a bipartisan type -- in the Bill Clinton "reach across the aisle and accomplish things" sense, not the Joe Lieberman "capitulate to your opponents' every whim and say that criticism of the President imperils the nation" sense. He's still pretty moderate for my frothing-at-the-mouth liberal tendencies, but he's a good guy. Frankly I'd have voted for just about anybody over Hayworth, but -- in this race, at least -- it wasn't enough just to be the Democratic candidate. Harry won because he had Tempe at his back, the Democrats and Republicans alike, and because he got the endorsement of the Arizona Republic -- no small feat given that they endorsed Hayworth the last six times he ran. But with JD balls-deep in the Abramoff scandal, seen as an extremist on immigration even by Arizona standards, and widely regarded as a partisan bully (his last set of campaign ads included one that said Harry Mitchell was soft on child molesters -- the old Rovian tactic of trying to turn an opponent's greatest strength into a liability, but in this case executed extremely clumsily and backfiring spectacularly), a guy with bipartisan appeal like Harry was just what District 5 wanted.
Harry's also had the class not to declare himself the winner until all the absentee, provisional, and early ballots are counted. Which I appreciate, considering mine's in that stack somewhere. And even if it weren't, well, I'm a fan of democracy and, you know, counting votes.
...Speaking of immigration, I'm much less thrilled to report that all three of our immigrant-scapegoating propositions seem to have passed. (ThehTUHKerJUHBS!) But -- and it's a close call, with ballots still being counted -- it looks like the anti-gay amendment failed. 107 was disguised as a proposition banning gay marriage, but gay marriage is already banned in Arizona -- what it was really about was banning benefits for unmarried couples, whether gay or straight. The only reason it was even close is that it pretended to be something it wasn't -- like the "limit the government's power of imminent domain" prop that passed, which actually means if I don't want a corporation polluting my neighborhood, I have to pay him off based on hypothetical lost profits. Or, to be fair, the winner of the Best Orwellian Name contest, the Non-Smoker Protection Act, which was funded by big tobacco, which the voters had the good sense to see through and vote down.
Minimum wage is up too. And about to go up on a federal level, now that the Dems have the House.
I'm sure I'll have plenty more to say about this later. And I'm sure my cynicism will eventually settle back in. But at the moment, I can call myself a Democrat without any feelings of self-loathing for a change -- and really, that's a great place to start.