There’s no doubt for Republicans that 2016 will be a year that favors outsiders running for office. Career politicians are out, conservative non-politicians are in.
That certainly is the situation in several Arizona political races and especially in the East Valley.
With the exception of one candidate, Arizona’s 5th Congressional District is crowded with career politicians – though you would never know it based on the rhetoric of the candidates. In reality, this club of career politicians has a combined total of 38 years in politics!
Let’s look at the messaging of each of these candidates.
Posted all over Justin Olson’s campaign website is the theme that Washington politicians are the problem and he is not one of them. He even claims not to be a career politician and qualifies the statement by stating he hasn’t spent 10, 12 or 14 years in office (a comparison to two of his Primary opponents). Here’s what he doesn’t tell you. Justin Olson was first elected to the Arizona House of Representatives in 2010. By the end of this year, he will have been in office a total of six years. Instead of pursuing a fourth term (Arizona’s Constitution limits legislative office to four terms or eight years per chamber), Olson has decided to jump for the open congressional seat of retiring Matt Salmon. This ambitious and risky move to pursue a federal office has career politician written all over it and it’s why we label him as a career politician. One other note. Olson also takes on lobbyists on his website but fails to disclose that he received almost $27,000 in campaign contributions from PAC’s and special interest groups during his 2014 campaign.
[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]This ambitious and risky move to pursue a federal office has career politician written all over it[/pullquote]
Andy Biggs is also running on the anti-establishment theme. On his website, Facebook page and Twitter feed , he tries to make the case he’s a political outsider taking on ‘the establishment.’ One of his press releases even touted an endorsement by Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan who stated Biggs would “challenge the Washington establishment.” His website is littered with endorsements from Arizona politicians, Washington insiders and unions.
Andy Biggs has also been working the Arizona political system for almost 14 years. Even before he was elected to the Arizona Legislature, Biggs was part of Matt Salmon’s inner circle during Salmon’s unsuccessful gubernatorial bid in 2002. That same year, he also ran for political office and was elected to the Arizona House. He was term limited out of the Arizona House in 2010 but jumped over to the State Senate in 2011. He’s been there for almost six years. Total time as a career politician -14 years.
[pullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Don Stapley has embraced his inner politician and has no problem expressing public displays of that form of affection.[/pullquote]
Then there’s Don Stapley. Throughout Stapley’s messaging, he is proud of being a career politician. His campaign ad boasts about coming from a family of politicians. And of course, he dotes over his 18 years as a Maricopa County Supervisor. Stapley does rail against regulations by the federal government but unlike the other two aforementioned candidates, Don Stapley has embraced his inner politician and has no problem expressing public displays of that form of affection.
Given the current political times, it’s doubtful that Stapley’s strategy will be a path to victory for the nomination but what else will work for a man who dodged seven felony charges because the judge believed political motivations tainted the case?
Altogether, Olson, Biggs and Stapley bring a total of almost four decades of politics to the CD-5 race.
Even with all the unpredictability of the 2016 elections, there is one constant. Voters will no longer tolerate or elect career politicians – a problem that Justin Olson, Andy Biggs or Don Stapley cannot seem to hide or evade.