Let’s take a moment, please, to observe that an era has ended, or that at least there has been a casting change.
Soon-to-be-Former-Attorney General Tom Horne and Almost-Outta-Here-State-Schools-Superintendent John Huppenthal, two fixtures in the bash-the-Mexican wing of the state Republican party, lost their primaries on Tuesday.
So, as of January, they’re done.
There’s always the likely attempted political resurrection, so stay tuned for that possibility – but for now, their time in elected office is a countdown.
Voters had plenty of reasons to turn out Horne and Huppenthal.
Horne, the state’s top law enforcement officer, has been surrounded like Pigpen from Peanuts by investigations into campaign spending, misusing his state office for his campaign, a hit-and-run with a parked car while allegedly meeting a staffer for a romantic assignation.
Huppenthal was revealed as the big thinker behind multiple personas who posted eloquently — and, being anonymous, very bravely — about how people on food stamps are “lazy pigs” and that “We all need to stomp out balkanization. No spanish (sic) radio stations, no spanish billboards, no spanish (sic) tv stations, no spanish (sic) newspapers. This is America, speak English.”
(In English we capitalize proper nouns, like “Spanish,” but, really, should we expect Arizona’s top education official to know that? It’s not like you have to pass a standardized test to get the job.)
The H Bombs lost for any number of reasons. Maybe voters simply got tired of Horne’s I’m-being-persecuted-by-the-liberal-media-and-my-political-enemies refrain. And there’s Huppenthal’s ephemeral stance on Common Core and his public shilling for using our tax money for private school tuition.
But we shouldn’t let that mountain of good reasons obscure one of the most important: their relentless political and xenophobic opportunism against students in the Tucson Unified School District.
Horne, who was state schools superintendent before Huppenthal, made himself a household name by demonizing and, with the ready help of Republican lawmakers, ultimately eliminated the district’s Mexican American Studies classes.
These courses weren’t mandatory and were open to all students. They required kids to think and dared to ask questions about whose history we mean when we talk about “American history.”
Huppenthal, who ran in 2010 on a “Stop La Raza” platform, carried the torch after Horne and lit a few fires of his own. He hired an audit company and when its report supported TUSD’s program, dismissed its methods as shoddy — concerns that had gone unmentioned prior. And he paid the bill without question.
Horne liked to burnish his anti-immigrant image by palling around with Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. If you can judge a man by who his friends are, consider Arpaio shorthand.
Huppenthal and Horne spent years trying to stop La Raza – which they and other opponents translate as “the race,” but in common usage around here means “the public,” or “the people” – and making sure they milked it for every vote they could.
Well, turnabout is fair play.
Because, Tom Horne and John Huppenthal, it is la raza – the people – who, through the ballot box, have stopped you.