The battle for the Republican nomination in Congressional District 1 has turned into a slugfest, as a woman with deep local roots but an international resume challenges a conservative activist who thought she had the nomination sewn up.
Reportedly, activists and party officials exerted sometimes alarming pressure on former state department official Sandra Livingston to not challenge former mining lobbyist Sydney Hay for the Republican nomination.
A number of better-known Republican heavyweights flirted with the idea of running for the seat being vacated by Republican incumbent Rick Renzi, who was indicted for allegedly improperly influencing a land trade to benefit a business partner. That seemingly left the field clear for Hay, who had spent years mounting initiative campaigns for various conservative causes and building a solid base of support.
But Livingston said she entered the race for fear that Hay's resume and approach would end up handing the seat to the Democrats in the general election.
So the campaign has devolved into bitter infighting just behind the scenes. Hay has a commanding lead in fund-raising and establishment endorsements, but Livingston has made it competitive by injecting $200,000 of her own money and lining up some big name endorsements of her own.
Here's a brief look at the two candidates. Sedona Minister Barry Hall is also still in the running, but did not file financial forms, has raised little money and did not fill out a questionnaire.
The descendent of a pioneering Arizona family with roots going back to the Spanish land grant days in the 1730s, Sandra Livingston grew up in Prescott and graduated from high school there in 1982. She says she can trace her line back to the Mayflower, but it also includes Native American heritage. Her ancestors included the first postmaster general of Pine and operators of the first inn in Pine.
Her interests turned quickly to international affairs. She attended Claremont Colleges in California and Wheaton College then worked for two years teaching English in a remote area of Inner Mongolia in China, where she was the only white woman within hundreds of miles. She continued an education that ultimately yielded degrees in economics, political studies, law and international law at Oxford, the University of San Diego, London School of Economics, Pepperdine School of Law and Cambridge. She taught law at Cambridge for nine years. She has worked in six law firms on three continents during more than 16 years as a practicing attorney.
She also worked as a diplomat in the State Department, serving during the buildup to the Iraq war and then under Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. At the State Department, she dealt with NAFTA, immigration, the economy, fuel and food prices, environmental concerns and other issues.
Money Raised: $227,000 ($200,000 self funded)
Education: PhD, masters, law degree from Cambridge, Oxford and others.
Family: Husband, two children.
Top issues: Immigration reform, economy, repeal NAFTA.
Surprising positions: Thinks U.S. spends too much on the military, supports privatizing Social Security, federal study of water use and supply in Rim Country before funding Blue Ridge pipeline, constitutional ban on abortion and gay marriage, and a guest worker program.
Chances: Used her own funds to make herself competitive after Hay locked up most of the donations. Attracted late, high visibility endorsement, to blunt Hay's advantage. Still a long shot, given the conservative nature of the primary voters -- but making the argument that her resume will give her a better shot at defeating whoever wins the Democratic primary.
A political consultant who specializes in ballot measures to implement conservative causes, Hay learned the ins and outs of the state capitol working as a lobbyist for the mining industry. She has played a leading local role in the school choice movement over the past 20 years, which has pushed to divert tax money into private and charter schools on the theory the competition for students will improve public schools. Born and raised in a small town in Colorado, she graduated from Kansas Newman College and has lived in Arizona for 30 years -- mostly in Phoenix. She earned a BA in education and taught elementary and high school students in Kansas and Arizona. Initiatives she has helped push have prohibited lawmakers from taking gifts from lobbyists or keeping campaign cash for personal use after leaving office, required a two-thirds vote of the legislature for any law raising taxes or fees and providing tax credits and taxpayer funded scholarships for children attending private and charter schools. She has served as president of the Arizona Mining Association, run a consulting firm and managed various political campaigns. She also hosted a radio talk show for five years and frequently writes guest editorials. She and her husband have homes in Scottsdale and Munds Park, leading to complaints she doesn't live full time in the district she seeks to represent.
Money: raised $412,000 ($70,000 self-funded)
Education: Kansas Newman College, BA
Family: Husband, two children.
Top issues: Energy independence, economy, border security.
Surprising Positions: Says country is going in the ‘wrong direction,' supports constitutional ban on gay marriage and abortion, wants to privatize Social Security system.
Chances: Enjoys a big financial advantage in the primary over her opponent and has rounded up the party establishment. Learned the district in a previous run for the seat and has traveled ceaselessly throughout the district for months. Has to convince worried Republican primary voters that she has a better shot at the seat than Livingston, whose international resume and credentials may appeal more to the 24 percent of independent voters that generally decide the outcome of elections in the district.
Editor's note: The Republican candidates were each asked to answer five questions about issues affecting Rim Country in 200 words or less. Only Sandra Livingston and Sydney Hay responded.
1) Payson needs to raise $30 million to build a pipeline to deliver water from the Blue Ridge Reservoir that will provide enough water to supply a build out population of 38,000. Do you know of any source of federal funding to help cover that cost? Would you push for earmark money to fund it if necessary?
Livingston: I am opposed to non-debated, non-transparent earmarks. Most projects under this rubric are absurd, such as teapot museums and bridges to nowhere! The Appropriations process is the correct forum to assure funds are allocated for crucial CD1 projects, such as this water pipeline. It could fall under infrastructure or resource needs. I support a USGS study of water resources in the Rim country, as well as throughout CD1, in order to determine what resources we have, where they are, how long they will last, and what are the best means of delivering crucial water supplies to communities, agriculture, and ranching.
Hay: Not only is this project important for future population growth, water infrastructure is vital for fire safety. Various governmental agencies have monies available for grants for these types of projects. In Congress, I will facilitate those grant requests. I have earned the support of Congressman Jeff Flake because I oppose earmarks for pork barrel projects for re-election purposes and will fight for earmark reform. However, if there is a need in CD1 that is an appropriate function of the federal government, an earmark could be necessary. In that circumstance, I will make certain that any earmark request is fully disclosed.
2) Do you consider wildfire a serious threat to Rim Country communities -- if so what specific measures do you favor to reduce that threat?
Livingston: Absolutely -- wildfire is always a serious threat in the Rim Country! These forests now have 20 times the number of trees they had just a century ago. After the Rodeo-Chediski fires, according to forestry experts at NAU, we need to thin the forests and remove the ground brush in order to reduce the threat of wildfires. As the Forest Service is so challenged financially at the moment, a public-private partnership which allows private lumber companies to come in and remove trees and concomitant brush from our area would reinvigorate the lumber industry and reduce the risk of wildfires.
Hay: Gila County leaders have set the pace for communities nationwide in finding solutions for this very real and serious threat. In Congress, I will work in cooperation with local leaders on forest health issues, including infrastructure and equipment needs, regulatory reform, legal reform, and reducing bureaucratic red tape.
3) Most Rim communities are surrounded by Forest Service land and most are seeking federal land trades for various public purposes and economic expansion. What, if anything, would you do to support land exchanges?
Livingston: There is a disproportionate amount of land held by the Federal Government throughout the Southwestern United States, and nowhere is this felt more than in Congressional District 1. I would support land exchanges with the Forest Service and other Federal land trades, which are beneficial to the communities of the Rim, and throughout District 1.
Hay: I will seek to be on the Resources Committee and will work hard to be an advocate of the philosophy that the word "public" in public lands means "we the people." These land exchanges are a vital component for the future of our communities.
4) Do you think that Rep. Renzi violated the public trust in his handling of the federal land trades for which he has been indicted? Should laws on land exchanges be changed?
Livingston: I am not familiar with the details of Congressman Renzi's activities or the indictments relating to federal land trades. I support laws on land exchanges that will benefit the individuals, businesses, communities of the Rim Country and CD1, without compromising the public trust or the environment. This can be done legally at the minute, but with some difficulty. I would favor making the process more transparent and less bureaucratic.
Hay: In our system of jurisprudence, any American from the janitor to the Senator is innocent until proven guilty. Congressman Renzi has the right to confront his accusers at trial before a jury of his peers. For me to pass judgment on him prior to his having his day in court would be inappropriate ... One thing is certain, the land exchange process needs to be streamlined.
5) Studies suggest that Rim Country forests have 10-20 times as many trees per acre as they did 200 years ago, as a result of Forest Service management and fire suppression. Yet, the timber industry has been virtually shut down as a result of lawsuits, restrictions and the lack of big trees. What would you do to restore forest health and what role should the timber industry and industry play?
Livingston: See question 2 answer. I recently interviewed a recent Forest Service retiree, who has spent a lifetime serving in the Rim Country. He pointed out that unless we allow private industry to help thin our forests, and remove brush, we face the possibility possibility of more catastrophic wildfires, and continued risks to forest health. Regulations have compromised our safety and destroyed the timber industry, which has played a central role in forest health. We need to foment change by reducing restrictions and red tape, and forming public-private partnerships, which return our forests to health and reduce the risks of forest fires.
Hay: I first got involved in resource issues in the 1980s as I saw Arizona's vibrant timber industry being targeted by environmental extremism. The preventing of proper forest management (harvesting, thinning, etc.) has resulted in devastating fires that have destroyed lives and cost taxpayers dearly. This must be reversed. The public and private sectors each have a role to play in managing our forests and producing forest products for both forest health and for the economic vitality of our communities. For this reason, in addition to seeking to serve on the Resources Committee, I will also seek appointment to the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.