This Week's Lemons Column
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest: Scott Smith Is the Only Sane Choice for Governor in the GOP Primary
It's "Candidates Day" at North Scottsdale Christian, a conservative, non-denominational place of worship just north of Pima Road and Dynamite Boulevard, where about 60 Democratic, Libertarian, and Republican candidates have assembled on a recent Sunday to introduce themselves.
The politicians are allowed to set up tables with campaign literature in the church's main lobby, not unlike the moneylenders Jesus is said to have driven from the temple. And following Senior Pastor David Friend's sermon, the candidates line up before the dais to shake hands and exchange pleasantries with many of several hundred congregants.
All the GOP candidates for governor are here, though the lone Democratic gubernatorial contender, Fred DuVal, did not attend. Of course, with no primary and about $1 million on hand at last count, DuVal has less to pray for at the moment than those vying to be his general election foil.
To give an idea of how conservative the North Scottsdale church is, during his sermon, Pastor Friend quotes literature from the right-wing Center for Arizona Policy, calls CAP president Cathi Herrod "my good friend," and inveighs against what he refers to as the "false doctrine of the separation of church and state."
So it's no surprise that the candidates, when given the opportunity to make 15-second statements before Friend's sermon, generally tout their religious affiliations, conservative principles, and family ties.
Former California Congressman Frank Riggs, an Army veteran, talks about raising his right hand, his left hand on a Bible, to swear an oath of allegiance to the United States.
Disbarred former county attorney Andrew Thomas mentions that he and his family attend Saint Joan of Arc Roman Catholic Church. Secretary of State Ken Bennett offers that he is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
State treasurer Doug Ducey describes himself as a "cradle Catholic" and becomes the butt of a joke by Friend when the pastor exclaims, apropos of nothing, "I like your hair."
Given that Ducey is cursed with a head of helmet hair that could rival that of a Lego figurine, the chortles of the congregants could not have pleased the former Cold Stone Creamery executive, whom some polls show as the GOP primary's front runner.
The comments of former Mesa Mayor Scott Smith and of former GoDaddy lawyer Christine Jones stand out, however.
Jones goes for broke on religious extremism, explaining that she grew up "in an evangelical church not unlike this one," and then she makes an interesting request.
"I would love your support," she tells the crowd, "but mostly I would covet your prayer, that the truth will be revealed, that lies will be exposed, and that Christians will elect leaders who are followers of Christ."
Meaning, I guess, that the few Jewish candidates for other offices also present that day need not have bothered to show up.
She probably intends the part about the "lies" as a not-so-veiled jab at her nemesis, Ducey, who, along with certain pro-Ducey groups, has been merciless during this primary in ripping apart Jones' statements and biography.
Still, I cannot help recalling the Republican State Committee meeting in January, when Jones sat almost directly behind me toward the end of the event, as state committeemen and committeewomen approached the microphone and tearfully told the assembled of this or that local GOPer who had passed away recently.
Heads bowed to offer a moment of silence or prayer for those who had departed since the last state committee meeting. It was at that point that Jones nodded at the person next to her, and they got up and walked out, while the getting was good.
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