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The reason that Burton Barr couldn't exist in today's environment has little to do with the extreme partisan nature of party faithful.

It has to do with term limits. True, Burton became Majority Leader in just his second (or was it the end of his first?) term, but his power and influence came from his longevity, and his knowledge. Burton could't stick around long enough these days to develop his legendary status. Ditto for Alfredo Gutierrez and Art Hamilton.

I'll agree with Greg on one point. Another key factor in Burton's power was the infamous (or famous) BarrPac. He could dole out money like he was giving away Girl Scout Cookies. That kinda power has nearly (but not completely) evaporated in these days of Clean Elections.

But my major quibble with Greg's point is his inference that independents are some dangerous development in Arizona politics.

I see it as healthy. (Of course I'll remind everyone again that I'm an registered independent myself, though my proclivities are self-evident).

Independents are the fulcrum that swings the political pendulum in this state. Right now indies are breakind for Ds. I guess that's one reason why Greg and I see them so differently.

They may also prove to make races competitive that were previously a wholly owned subsidiary of one of the parties.

I believe they played a part in the Dem. legislative pickups in '06, and I'm kinda predicting (ok, hoping) they'll play a similar role in '08.

I'd also look at the presidential primaries in other states for evidence of how independents are leaning. Obama and Hillary both got more votes in NH than McCain, and yesterday in Michigan, I believe that McCain was hurt by the failure of independents to vote in the R primary.

Of course, if Dems lean too far to the left, the independents will lean back toward the right. Hence my fulcrum metaphor.

The overall effect of Independents is to increase the mediocrity of an already mediocre candidate-drafting system. We'll start getting a bunch of talentless people from a bunch of small tents running for office, and some of them will obviously win, instead of a few talented ones emerging from only two tents.

Burton Barr wouldn't have the power today he did in his heyday is because the power of the Phoenix 40 has been broken. Those were also the days when whoever the Republic crowned king was king (or queen).

The defeat of Burton Barr in his campaign for Copper Dome and the defeat of Pete Dunn for Mayor of Phoenix signaled the end of the dominance of these two power blocks in this state.

I suppose anyone in the exact center is a centrist and anyone who takes even the smallest step to the right or left is technically "moving towards the extreme" right or left. But to my way of thinking, you have to go very very far before you actually reach the extreme end of each party. For once, I think Greg has fallen into the trap of associating too many people with the word "extreme" and inadvertently ends up supporting part of the newspaper's viewpoint.

I'm actually hard-pressed to think of too many folks from either party who could or should be classified as extremists. Could you find folks who might fit that definition on a single issue? Maybe... Rep. Sinema's idea of turning neighborhood block-watch groups into domestic terrorists as part of a gun-control agenda would probably fall into that category. But how many of these folks should fairly be considered extremists? I would guess few, if any.

I recognize that Greg's use of "more extreme" might have been a shorthand way of saying more conservative or more liberal. But in the pages of the Republic, he would have recognized the use of "more extreme" instead of "more conservative" as the paper's way of implying that conservative is extreme. And he would have called them on it!

Tim,

I guess 'extreme' is in the eye of the beholder.

My 'extreme' is my 'virtue' while your 'extreme' is your 'vice'.

good comment

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To: Shadegg Friends
From: Congressman John Shadegg

Shadegg amasses almost $1 million in campaign donations - largest cash-on-hand ever!

Record-breaking fundraising effort in off-year

Phoenix -- Congressman John Shadegg announced today that his Congressional campaign committee, John Shadegg's Friends, has over $863,000 cash-on-hand as he prepares for re-election this November. This is almost double the highest cash-on-hand total he has ever had. Having emptied his campaign coffers in support of other Republican candidates in 2006, Congressman Shadegg carried less than $15,000 forward last January from his previous campaign. Nonetheless, starting from near zero, John Shadegg's Friends has raised more than $945,000 so far this election cycle, the largest amount he has ever raised in either an off-year or an election year, by far.

"I am always humbled and grateful for the tremendous response and generosity of my supporters from all over Arizona and the nation," said Shadegg. "We are well-prepared to communicate our message to the voters of the Third Congressional District and I look forward to debating the issues this fall."

"Some liberal Democrats may think that the Third Congressional District is a seat they can win, but they are absolutely wrong. I encourage them to continue to waste their money in this race so that less is available for protecting other liberal incumbents elsewhere. The voters of Congressional District Three remain supportive of my commitment to the conservative principles of less government, reduced taxes for all Americans, and more freedom. With that message, we will beat any challenger in money raised and in votes cast on election day," Shadegg said.

In the fourth quarter of 2007, Shadegg raised an impressive $495,000 from his supporters, eclipsing his previous career-high of $312,000 in a quarter. In fact, the last three quarters of 2007 have been the highest, second highest and fourth highest fundraising quarters in Congressman Shadegg's career, and he has set these fundraising records in an off-election year, truly an extraordinary accomplishment given where he started.

"Coupled with the strong Republican registration in CD 3 and a long history of Republicans winning in this district, I am confident of a Republican victory again this year. CD 3 has a long history of supporting conservative, Republican candidates, and it will remain a Republican seat this fall," Shadegg said.

PAID FOR BY JOHN SHADEGG'S FRIENDS

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