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Steller's Friday Notebook: Former Tucson Dem Glassman suits up as GOP conservative
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Steller's Friday Notebook: Former Tucson Dem Glassman suits up as GOP conservative

The last time most voters heard from Rodney Glassman, he was a Democrat running against John McCain, a Tucson City Council member who appeared in a notorious campaign video singing “Sweet Home Arizona” to the tune of the famous Lynyrd Skynyrd song about Alabama.

“Big oil keeps on drilling,” Glassman sang as the song began. “What about solar for our kids? Housing market’s in the toilet. Got to get our families working again, find a real win-win.”

Eight years later, Glassman is running in his next campaign, also for statewide elective office. Only now, he’s presenting himself as a “conservative Republican” candidate for the Arizona Corporation Commission.

In a video promoting this year’s campaign, he says he and fellow conservative Republicans “share core values focused on smaller government, lower taxes, focused on family, life, and championing the Jewish state of Israel. I plan on bringing these conservative Republican values to the Arizona Corporation Commission.”

Leaving aside what support of Israel has to do with the Corporation Commission, his answer raised the natural question, which Rodney is the real Glassman?

Earlier this summer, I spoke with him at a kickoff event for Gov. Doug Ducey’s re-election campaign and asked him how he ended up converting from Democrat to Republican.

“I grew up,” he said, noting that he moved to Phoenix in 2011, served in the Air Force reserves, got married and became a father. “A few years ago someone asked me why I was a Democrat. I told them the story about how (Tucson) Mayor (George) Miller had said back in the day, when I moved here at age 19, ‘If you want to be involved in this community, you need to be a Democrat.’ So I did — I reregistered from Republican to Democrat when I was 19 years old.”

“It wasn’t until I was in my mid-30s, I was on a family vacation, a friend said, ‘Why are you a Democrat?’ I told the story of Mayor Miller, may he rest in peace, and next he asked me ‘What do you really care about?’ I shared with him that it was Israel, defense and taxes. He giggled and said, ‘You should really reconsider because it sounds like you’re a Republican.’”

That’s the story. And the friend in the story is Republican campaign consultant Constantin Querard, Querard told me.

But you’ve got to wonder — if a man picks a party out of convenience once, wouldn’t he change parties out of convenience again? I asked Glassman, “Could it not be argued that you just made the same calculation for the state of Arizona or for Maricopa County that you made down here? In other words, it’s mostly Democrats down here, so you’re a Democrat. Mostly Republicans statewide, so you’re a Republican. Isn’t it as simple as that?”

“Not at all,” he said. “If you look back at my life choices in Tucson, when I worked in the business community, it was in the business community. When I got hired by Congressman (Raúl) Grijalva, it was to work for the constituencies that he didn’t have relationships with. It was the business community and the ag community. I’ve always been a staunch supporter of the Jewish state of Israel. Even when I ran for City Council, I was supported by the chamber of commerce, I was supported by the Realtors association, I was supported by the homebuilders association.”

Now he’s running primarily on a platform of bringing integrity back to the Corporation Commission through a new ethics policy based on judicial conduct principles.

Look, Glassman was never very convincing when he posed as a Democrat in Tucson. He always seemed more of an ambitious and wealthy young man oriented toward big-business priorities. That might make him more of a natural Republican, an old-fashioned corporate Republican like former Mayor Bob Walkup. But a “conservative Republican”? Nah. Looks to me like another pose by a political shape-shifter.

Doesn’t mean he won’t win. He’s got lots of big-money Republican support, bigger donations than any other Corporation Commission candidate. But it also makes you wonder just what is at the core of this political creature called Rodney Glassman.

Farley targeted

Something unusual happened over the last few days in the race for Arizona governor. For months, Gov. Doug Ducey and the Republican Party have been targeting Democratic candidate David Garcia with all their attacks.

But then, this week, Garcia opponent Steve Farley became a target. The Republican Governors Association, a big backer of Ducey, put together a website calling him Far Left Farley and accusing him of being a Bernie Sanders-style Democrat out of touch with Arizona.

On Thursday, Ducey issued a tweet saying “@SteveFarleyAZ calls himself a ‘policy wonk,’ but he’s been on the WRONG side of almost every major policy in recent memory. His record is decidedly to the left — way left.” Arizona GOP Chair Jonathan Lines chimed in saying, “Seriously! Are we supposed to forget @SteveFarleyAZ votes to eliminate criminal penalties for traffickers? Or @SteveFarleyAZ’s consistent support for #Obamacare? Or his consistent push to raise the #GasTax?@SteveFarleyAZ has and will always be FAR LEFT!”

The possibly coordinated attack suggested that the Ducey campaign may know something the rest of us don’t about how the campaign is playing out. Farley, a state senator from Tucson, told me he suspects they have seen a new poll.

An incumbent governor who has never called out anybody before doesn’t just arbitrarily go on the attack, he said.

Of course, other possibilities exist, such as trying to promote the candidate they consider weaker by attacking him and raising his profile.

Anti-Heinz poll

Some Tucsonans received a call from live pollsters this week asking about the Democratic primary race in Congressional District 2. It seemed to be favoring Ann Kirkpatrick, asking such questions as whether it would make you more likely to support Kirkpatrick if you knew that Gabrielle Giffords supports her.

A second line of questioning, apparently testing the strength of attacks on Democrat Matt Heinz, went in a direction some people found out of bounds. As my friend Luke Knipe, who received the survey call, explained it to me, one question asked how it would affect your view of Heinz if you knew he’d had a relationship with Republican former Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu.

Knipe didn’t remember the exact words, but that was the gist of the question, which came among several critiques of Heinz’s past performance. Heinz and Babeu are both gay and knew each other when Heinz was in the Legislature. When he heard about the question, Heinz said it sounded like gay-baiting — trying to turn people against him by the implying he had a romantic relationship with Babeu.

“Southern Arizona is more equality-minded than to fall for a false-anti-gay attack,” Heinz told me.

Kirkpatrick’s campaign consultant, Rodd McLeod, told me the campaign did not sponsor that poll and that “We don’t think candidates’ personal lives are a valid concern.” He pointed out that Heinz had a private investigator look into Kirkpatrick to investigate whether she has been living in Phoenix or Tucson.

Contact: or 807-7789. On Twitter: @senyorreporter

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During his 2010 campaign for U.S. Senate against John McCain, Rodney Glassman sang "Sweet Home Arizona" to the tune of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet…

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