State Senate Hopeful Gets Governor's Backing


Cameron Udall, a 33-year-old Democrat running for the District 5 State Senate seat, has little trouble identifying the issues that trouble her.

They are, she said, Arizona's lowly national rankings in child care, health, education and economy.


Cameron Udall

Arizona is rated the third-worst state to raise a child and brutal deaths of children have risen 58 percent, she said. Also, Arizona is the second-worst state in providing jobs with health insurance and the 10th highest in infant-mortality rate.

In education, the state is third lowest in per-pupil funding and 11th lowest in reading scores, she said.Arizona also has the highest drop-out and truancy rate in the nation and teacher salaries are $5,000 lower than the national average, Udall said.

Economically, the state has the ninth-highest disparity in family income between the richest and the poorest citizens. The state also struggles with the fourth-worst poverty rate, Udall said.

Arizona's median income is 3.5 percent below the national average and 23 percent of Arizona children live in poverty, compared to 17 percent nationally, she said.

"I know we can do better than this," Udall said.

Her promise if elected is "to do all that I can to make sure Arizona becomes one of the best states (in which) to raise a child by providing more funding for the students as well as teachers."As a rural senator, she says, she will work to bring more jobs to small-town Arizona.

That can be done, she said, "... by using what we have, like reviving the timber industry, while ensuring we don't lose the industries we do have, like cattle, mining and tourism," she said.

Udall brings to the campaign trail one of the most well-known names in Arizona politics. Her family helped settle St. Johns in the 1870s.

Her great-great-grandfather, David King Udall, served in the Arizona Territorial Legislature. The family also has produced a secretary of the interior who served two American presidents, a solicitor general who served another president, four members of Congress, two chief justices of the Arizona Supreme Court, two mayors of Phoenix and five Arizona county attorneys.

"I've always been the daughter or niece of someone in office," Udall said. "Now, I'm the one running."

Recently, Udall picked up the support of Gov. Janet Napolitano who said the candidate's interests in education, child protective services and all-day kindergarten are important.

"I think Cam Udall has views similar to what I think needs to happen at the Legislature to move things forward."

Udall is appreciative of the governor's support.

"I think it will be a great help," she said. "I'm going to do what she did in the governor's race and work very hard."

Although she also been endorsed by former governor Rose Mofford as well, it's the support the Arizona Education Association has thrown behind her she's most proud of.

"After all, kids are all we have," she said.

Udall got her start in politics during her junior year at St. Johns High School when she served as a page in the United States Senate.

After graduating from St. Johns in 1989, she attend Brigham Young University for two years. She then studied at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland before eventually returning to Arizona and earning a degree in psychology from Arizona State University in 1999. Only recently, she received her law degree from the Appalachian School of Law in Grundy, Va. After the bar exam, she returned to the family ranch in St. Johns.

"Being back home made me realize the ties I have to this area," she said. "That's when I decided to run for the state senate."

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