« Labels | Main | Solemn obligations »

February 23, 2015


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Wonderful perspective. Thanks Jon.

Excellent historial perspective. Were the development and sprawl boyz influential before the 1990s (Fife Symington era)? I recall you mentioned in a previous blog that land fraud was rampant for many years. Were members of the legislature complicit in this or was it mainly relegated to out of state land barons? If you know of any interesting stories of land fraud or real estate hustles from the past, it would make a good blog post.

Laws were introduced in the Barr era that were much tougher on land fraud.

The construction industry and builders were influential, but nowhere near where they are today. For one thing, they were offset and balanced by a much more diverse and local economy. Also, hyper-sprawl hadn't really taken off yet.

"The worthy solons who sold off pieces of the Capitol."

Keep in mind that "pieces of the Capitol" were sold off as a means of "borrowing" to prevent further state budget cuts (including education).

Question for Rogue: much of the shift among formerly solidly Democratic states in the South toward solidly Republican politics, happened in response to passage of the Civil Rights Act and to related race-based reforms of the 1960s. Give that Arizona was once part of the Confederacy, what part did a similar dynamic play in Arizona's blue to red shift that occurred at about the same time?

Also, can Rogue (or anybody else) tell me which party controlled the Arizona state legislature (House and Senate) by year from 1950 through 1980? One would think the Internet would be a font of information, but info prior to the early 1990s is difficult to locate. Maybe someone with a scholarly book?

Sanjeev, did ja miss the tax cuts that were made instead of paying off that overpriced loan?

Or the fact that the tax cuts were done in spite of facing another fiscal crisis when the other band aids flew off due to courts blowing up other illegal uses of funds?

So, we did sort of save education, but at the price of long term budget stability, and yet another round of savage cuts to education and to state government.

You get what you pay for, and the modern Republican party is buying a small corrupt state government that doesn't work.

Hope you enjoy paying for that, and getting even madder when your taxes go up to deal with the mismanagement.


Emil, it is cracker politics in a cracker state.

I am just waiting for the Huey Long to come and turn this place over big time.


And full disclosure, some of my ancestors were crackers.


Democrats held the majorities in the Senate and usually the House in the 1950s. There were several sessions of "coalition" rule in the House where Ds and Rs came together to elect a certain speaker.

Republicans have held control of the House since 1966. Democrats had control of the 1974 and 1976 sessions in the Senate; otherwise, all Republican control.

Migration was the biggest single reason behind Arizona's relatively rapid switch from a Democratic to Republican state. And, as time went on, the "Big Sort" was at work. Midwesterners came to a place that seemed to mirror their political views.

Contrast this with slow-growing New Mexico, where Democrats maintained control for decades.

Republicans were also more politically adept in running campaigns. Race no doubt played a role, but mostly in newcomers seeking to escape racial turmoil in the "old" cities of the Midwest and East.

Its a good, hopeful column Rogue. Your sentence "Also, when Barr and Giss held sway Arizona enjoyed a consensus." might be a bit misleading since the two overlapped briefly in the leg. Giss was there from 1948-1973 and Barr from 1964-1986. Phil V's book about Barr, which is available, makes the useful point that Giss/Barr represented a transition from rural to urban power in Arizona, nicely illustrated in this Reg Manning cartoon https://www.facebook.com/ASUARCHIVES/photos/a.762448097127446.1073741837.232254060146855/847159611989627/?type=1&theater

Another cool tidbit about Giss was his effort to divert controversy over the renaming of Arizona State College to Tempe University, which sparked student outrage and a march on the capitol depicted here http://www.asu.edu/vppa/photogallery/50thgallery/7.htm

Giss had unrivaled power and yes, someone should write about this guy!

Thanks, Rob. Yes, Giss tried to make a compromise that would ease opposition to ASU by the UofA by suggesting the name "Tempe University." The result was protests at the Capitol by ASC students.

Spot on historical perspective and description of where Arizona currently finds itself. It's devastating for the people who have tried to restore the public's trust in government and work for the common good. I've never had such an undemocratic experience as I did when I served in the Arizona House '07-'09. As a teacher with more than 25 years experience at the time, I also served in the Legislature, it was appalling to even be in the same room with legislators actively working to dismantle public education. Arizona needs a lifeline. Increased civic participation. I don't know... I commend those still there who continue the fight.

Thanks, Rogue. So 1966 was the watershed year?

A possible problem with the Midwest migration theory of Arizona's shift from Democratic to Republican politics: from 1960 to 1965 Arizona's population only increased from 1.32 to 1.58 million; some substantial portion of this was from new births rather than migration (the tail end of the Baby Boom); and not all of the new arrivals were Republican or even of voting age (migrating families brought children).

Don't forget that by 1964 Republican proponents of the Southern Strategy (appeal to Democratic white voters disaffected by racial reforms) had taken control of the GOP:

"As the conservative journalist Robert Novak reported after attending a meeting of the Republican National Committee in Denver during the summer of 1963: “A good many, perhaps a majority of the party’s leadership, envision substantial political gold to be mined in the racial crisis by becoming in fact, though not in name, the White Man’s Party.”"


Barry Goldwater, the GOP candidate for President in 1964, was one of only five senators from outside the South who voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Arizona was also the only state outside the South to vote for him in the presidential campaign.

At the time of the U.S. Civil War, "many people in the area were pro-slavery, with business connections in southern states", a fact which contributed to the secession of the "Confederate Territory of Arizona".


Attitudes are passed on from generation to generation. I believe you've written some blog articles about the former division of Phoenix into racially segregated areas "across the tracks".

None of this is conclusive, of course. I'd like to see contemporaneous political writings and speech transcripts from the early to middle 1960s to get an idea of the place of race in Arizona's shift from Blue to Red politics.

I finally found some solid figures:


You can see that House Democrats in Arizona dropped from 69 percent of seats in the state House in 1959 to 56 percent in 1965, the last year before the court-ordered redistricting referenced in the blog above. In 1967 (the first year after) Arizona Democrats in the state House had dropped another 11 points to 45 percent.

The differences in the state Senate are far more stark. Democrats went from 93 percent in 1965 to 47 percent in 1967. It's safe to say that the Arizona Senate was the domain of landed interests (large ranchers) and businessmen.

Also see this, which mirrors what Rogue wrote above:

"With the 1966 election, reapportionment, based on population, significantly transformed the state landscape and shifted political power from rural areas to the rapidly growing urban areas of the state, particularly Maricopa County."


It's interesting that a power shift from rural to urban areas gave Republicans such an increase in power, given the fact that cities like Phoenix and Tucson are, today, the only significant evidence of lingering Democratic control of politics (local).

I don't think the rural population of Arizona was concerned at the time about busing to the suburbs and other "forced integration". But I suspect that the urban population was, out of all proportion to the possible results, given the demographics of the period. Mere suspicion is not documentation, however.

NY Times: Where We Came From and Where We Went Aug.19, 2014

Arizona is always in the news for how it deals with immigration from Mexico and Central America, but there has also been a change in domestic migration patterns. Long a destination for retirees from the Midwest, the state has experienced even more growth in recent years with transplants from California and other Western states.

Arizona Pols in action.

Great perspective. Just one note: Democrats controlled the Senate in 1991. Current Pinal County Supervisor Pete Rios served as Senate president.

Once upon time we were on our way to becoming a progressive Western state, then we decided to become a regressive Southern state.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

My Photo

Your email address:

Powered by FeedBlitz