Now that the legislative session is over, perhaps it’s a good time to take out that trusty old political instrument, the moderatometer, and stick it under the tongue of Tucson’s favorite debatably moderate legislator, Ethan Orr.

You may recall that my reference to the Republican Orr as a moderate sparked outrage among some Democrats who say he isn’t and plan to run campaigns against him based on his alleged non-moderation.

This session gave them some material that they’ll be using in the Legislative District 9 campaigns for Democrats Victoria Steele, an incumbent, and Randy Friese, a new challenger. Several of the votes they’ll point to relate to gun bills and put him in the right fringe of the political spectrum, they’ll argue. On these gun bills, Orr voted yes, but Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed the bills:

  • HB 2338, making it a separate felony, aggravated assault, to take someone’s gun from them with the intent to cause harm with it.
  • HB 2517, making it illegal — and making elected officials personally liable if they try — to enact stronger gun laws in municipalities and counties than state law requires.
  • HB 2339, making it legal for concealed-carry permit holders to bring guns into public buildings and events where firearms are otherwise prohibited.

I sat down and had an iced green tea with Friese Thursday afternoon. He said these gun-law votes show Orr is more “dogmatic” than “pragmatic” as I’d suggested.

“Governor Brewer is defining moderate,” he said. “She’s moved to the center much more than Ethan is in the center.”

Orr defended each of the votes when I spoke with him Thursday. On HB 2338, Brewer said the law was unnecessary since the activities prohibited already are felonies, but Orr said, “I do think that taking someone’s gun away from them and trying to harm them should be a felony.”

On HB 2517, he said, “The pre-emption vote would not be necessary if people weren’t trying to make guns a political issue. I don’t think it’s appropriate for a community to break state law.”

On HB 2339, Orr said he would support more requirements for concealed-carry permits, but he said permit holders have excellent criminal records as a group, better even than law-enforcement officers. (While that may be true of the rate, the Violence Policy Center, a pro-gun-restriction group in Washington, D.C., maintains a database of so-called “concealed-carry killers,” those with permits who have killed others in non-self-defense situations.)

On what is perhaps even a hotter-button issue, abortion, Orr voted in favor of the bill that allows for surprise inspections of clinics providing abortions. Orr, who opposes abortion in general, said it’s a fair law since other medical facilities are subject to surprise inspections, too. But you can expect Friese, Steele and other Democrats to point to it as a vote against women’s reproductive rights.

Orr pointed to his work on more mundane but significant issues as indicative of his body of work. He got bills passed making it a crime to point a laser at an aircraft, allowing customers of spaceflights to waive liability for death or injury, and allowing for money-saving revisions of the Pima County Sheriff’s Department pension system.

In a vote that bolstered Orr’s moderatometer reading, he voted April 17 against HB 2291, which would have expanded Arizona’s private-school voucher program, a proposal that was favored by conservative Republicans and opposed by public-school advocates. Speaking of one of his many votes, Orr seemed a bit tired of the “moderate” discussion: “If that makes me a moderate, I’m a moderate. If that makes me an extremist, I’m an extremist. I just want good policies that benefit the people of Pima County.”

So what does your moderatometer say?

AZ Illustrated ending

KUAT TV’s AZ Illustrated, a daily program Monday-Friday for more than 30 years, is ending. Beginning June 6, the station will begin airing Metro Week, a half-hour news and public affairs show at 8:30 p.m. Fridays.

In AZ Illustrated’s longtime 6:30 p.m. slot will be The Desert Speaks, hosted by Tucsonan David Yetman. In the fall, AZ Illustrated will be relaunched as a weekly program.

Bill Buckmaster, who hosted the show for 23 years, called it “the end of an era.” He appreciated the unexpected variety of topics the show covered.

“The success of the show was that if you didn’t like one segment, you’d stick around and see what was next,” he said.


You’ve heard of RINOs, those who are derisively referred to as Republicans in Name Only because they’re not conservative enough. You’ve heard of DINOs, Democrats who are not considered liberal enough and labeled Democrats in Name Only.

Let me introduce you to CINOs! These are “Candidates in Name Only,” those who have launched a formal campaign that everyone can see is going nowhere.

CINOs have been a staple of political life forever. What brought the new name to mind was the poor fundraising reports from Congressional District 3 Republican Gabriela Saucedo Mercer and Congressional District 2 Republican Chuck Wooten.

Saucedo Mercer’s campaign collected $1,956 in the first quarter and had a negative balance. Wooten raised $6,474 and has had to defend himself from the embarrassing revelation that he was not registered as a Republican until April 8, though he’d been running as one and collecting signatures as one.

In fairness, Miguel Olivas, another Republican vying to challenge Democratic U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva in CD3, may also qualify as a CINO. However, his FEC filings are late, so it’s hard to tell.

Contact columnist Tim Steller at or 807-7789. On Twitter: @senyorreporter