With the 2019 Arizona legislative session firmly in the rearview mirror, it is time to recognize those Republican members who distinguished themselves for reasons both good and bad. This isn’t a ranking in any particular order, just the five best and worst Republican legislators:
State Senator JD Mesnard and State Representative Ben Toma – Mesnard and Toma lead the fight to protect Arizona taxpayers from a state income tax hike as a result of the federal tax reform, and the battle over so-called “conformity” dominated the session and the budget negotiations. Governor Ducey wanted none of it, because he had plans for the increased revenue, and being able to blame the federal government for the inadvertent hike gave him political cover. Lots of GOP members stood tall in this fight, but cheers to Mesnard and Toma for leading the way.
State Senator David Livingston – While no one loves everything Livingston does, his insistence that the state accelerate debt repayment was a home run for taxpayers. It prevented the government from spending the money on who knows what, while saving Arizona taxpayers tens of millions of dollars in interest payments going forward. Cheers to Livingston for saving Arizona taxpayers a lot of money.
State Senator Eddie Farnsworth and State Representative Anthony Kern – As Chairmen of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Rules Committee respectively, Farnsworth and Kern did more to stop bad bills from proceeding than any other members. While most members brag about how many bills they passed and how many new laws they put on the books, cheers to Farnsworth and Kern for actually limiting government and protecting Arizonans from bad laws.
State Senator Heather Carter – Without exception, Heather Carter is the most liberal and belligerent Republican in the entire Legislature, in spite of her representing a rock-solid conservative district. Carter simply doesn’t care what her voters want because she raises a ton of money and campaigns like a conservative to fool them. Unfortunately, once she gets to the Capitol, she goes out of her way to belittle them and work against her Republican colleagues while working with Democrats to spend more, tax more, and grow government in unacceptable ways. Carter is also incredibly hostile to school choice and has charter schools and parental options in her sights. Jeers to Carter for being the ultimate RINO in the State Legislature.
State Senator Kate Brophy McGee – These jeers come with a caveat, because while Brophy McGee is very liberal for a Republican, she represents a tough swing district that wouldn’t likely elect a solid conservative. Brophy McGee is like the US Senator Susan Collins of the Legislature. Liberal on too many issues, but holding a seat for the GOP that needs holding. Still, jeers for Brophy McGee’s lack of courage on issues related to school choice and spending. No matter what your district looks like, kids deserve as many opportunities as possible and bloated budgets are bad for everyone.
State Senator Michelle Ugenti-Rita – It is unfortunate to have to include Ugenti-Rita on this list because on occasion the once Tea Party fav still shows flashes of conservatism. We even considered including her on the “cheers” side of things for her fight to get rid of the Vehicle Licence Tax (VLT). However, her three year (and counting) crusade to pass the Equal Rights Amendment to the US Constitution, even though the call expired in 1982, is an affront to the Constitution and to the pro-life cause she claims to support. Ugenti-Rita’s attachment to the ERA came at about the same time she hypocritically took the lead role in the Legislature’s #MeToo movement, when she filed complaints against State Senator Don Shooter for inappropriate conduct, but its jeers for Ms. Ugenti-Rita and her passionate commitment to passing this leftwing idea and permanently enshrining Roe v Wade protections into the U.S. Constitution.
State Representative Joanne Osbourne – It is unusual for a freshman legislator to make a list like this, but after campaigning as a pro-taxpayer conservative, and after being the beneficiary of massive amounts of special interest money for her 2018 campaign to convince the conservative voters of LD13 that she would fight to protect them, Osbourne fought to raise taxes on individuals, families, and businesses. Osbourne opposed efforts to cut the Vehicle License Tax (VLT), supported yet another increase in the state’s sales tax, and voted for an increase in Arizona’s gas tax as well. No other Republican supported more higher taxes than Representative Osbourne, so it’s jeers to this freshman who has already mastered the art of saying one thing to get elected and doing the opposite once in office.
State Representative Noel Campbell – When Campbell was first elected he was to the right of his fellow legislators from LD1. Sadly, Campbell’s likely last term in office has seen him drift to the left of both Karen Fann and Steve Pierce, and his constant pushing for higher taxes and increased revenue is a disappointment to his very red legislative district. We appreciate his work on behalf of veterans, but its jeers for Rep. Campbell for his long and slow leftward drift.
Who makes your list and why? Share your thoughts in the comments below.