Those of you who aren't diehard Democrats or Republicans – those of you who vote on both sides of the aisle — here's something to think about.
This year, in unprecedented numbers, prominent Arizona Republicans are endorsing Democratic candidates. You should ask yourself, "Why?"
Here in LD-26, Pete Hershberger, who served four terms as our Republican state legislator, has endorsed Cheryl Cage and Nancy Young Wright, the Democrats running for State Legislature, and none of the three Republicans. Hershberger is joined by at least half a dozen other Republican leaders who have endorsed one or both candidates.
Hershberger stood shoulder to shoulder with LD-25's former Republican state legislator, Jennifer Burns, and endorsed Gabrielle Giffords for the House of Representatives. They were joined by the Republican mayors of Sierra Vista and Sahuarita, among others.
Republican Jim Kolbe, who was our representative before Giffords, is serving as campaign chair for Andre Cherny, the Democratic candidate for state treasurer.
And former Republican Attorney General Grant Woods has endorsed Democrat Felicia Rotellini for attorney general.
These Republicans have not left their party. Their party has left them. They cannot in conscience support Republicans who let their extreme right wing ideology cloud their judgment about what is best for Arizona. So these moderates are ignoring party labels and voting for the better candidate.
This is an election where moderate Republicans and Independents should think long and hard about the direction this state is heading with a Republican-led Legislature and a Republican governor. It's a year to study the candidates from both parties, then pick and choose.
It's no secret I'm a diehard Democrat, so my endorsements are for Democrats. This year the choice is easier than usual, because there really isn't a weak Democratic candidate in the bunch, and there are scarce few Republicans who stray far from their party's hard right agenda.
Space won't permit me to name all the candidates I favor, so I'll spotlight as many as I can.
Cheryl Cage, State Senate. Cage is a terrific candidate because of her intelligence and business background, but a vote for her is even more critical because Al Melvin is one of the most extreme members of the legislature. Unless you favor turning Southern Arizona into the nation's toxic nuclear waste dump, vote for Cage.
Nancy Young Wright, State House. Young Wright is the only candidate to vote for in this race. Vic Williams' occasional breaks with the Phoenix Republican leadership aren't enough for him to deserve a moderate label, and Terri Proud combines extreme ideas with the most superficial understanding of the issues facing our state.
Gabrielle Giffords, House of Representatives. Giffords is an independent, moderate voice reflecting the population of her district. No one works harder or listens better. Jesse Kelly's campaign is mainly a collection of talk radio clichés designed to excite a crowd rather than provide serious ideas.
Terry Goddard, Governor. We need a governor with Goddard's understanding of the problems facing the state and the strength and steadiness to lead us toward an economic recovery. Unlike Brewer, Goddard will provide much-needed balance and restraint, vetoing bad bills and sending them back to the Legislature until they work.
Penny Kotterman, Superintendent of Public Instruction. I've devoted my life to education, so this office is especially important to me. Kotterman has a wealth of experience in the classroom – she has taught from elementary through high school — and is well grounded in educational research. John Huppenthal has never worked in the schools. He reads lots of theoretical research but only pays attention to the parts he agrees with.
Chris Deschene, Secretary of State. U.S. Naval Academy graduate. Ten years in the Marines. Degree in engineering. Lawyer. Navajo. Grandson of a Code Talker. If Deschene and Ken Bennett were equal in their qualifications and intelligence, I would choose Deschene for the unique perspective he brings to statewide office. But the fact is, Deschene is the superior candidate by any measure.
Those are some of my choices. Now it's your turn.
Dave Safier is a regular contributor to Blog for Arizona.