2014 March Badness – AZ Edition


By Craig McDermott, cross-posted from Random Musings

ProgressNow is a national, non-partisan, progressive, issues-oriented advocacy organization.  They are focused on utilizing new technology such as social networking.

One of the more brilliant ideas that they’ve come up with is “March Badness“, a “seeding” of the “most outrageous, radical, out of touch right-wingers who over the past year have proven that, for one reason or another, they belong in this year’s Not-So-Sweet 16 as part of 2014 March Badness.”

People can vote for their choice in each matchup by FB liking, tweeting, or otherwise sharing their choices on their social networks.

In fact, I think it is so brilliant that I am going to steal the idea, focus it on Arizona, and expand the field to 32.

I don’t have the technological skill to make the matchups “vote-able”, but I can make up for that with snark.

Lots of snark.

Like the NCAA Tournament, there are four regions, and also like the NCAA tourney, contenders can be seeded into regions that seem to require a little travel (i.e. – east coast teams playing in western arenas, or in this case, batsh!t crazy types getting placed into the “go along to get along” region, and vice versa).

There are four “regions” in this particular tourney –

Bay at the Moon – Rural

Bay at the Moon – Urban

Black Helicopter

Go Along to Get Along

Opening seedings and first-round matchups –


1 AJ Lafaro  
8 Ally Miller  
4 Michele Ugenti  
5 Andy Biggs  
  Bay at the Moon – Urban
3 John Kavanagh  
6 Russell Pearce  
2 John Huppenthal  
7 Gilbert School Board  
1 Al Melvin  
8 Adam Kwasman  
4 Cathi Herrod  
5 Chester Crandell  
  Bay at the Moon – Rural
3 Bob Thorpe  
6 Jim Brown  
2 Don Shooter  
7 Brenda Barton  
1 Andrew Thomas  
8 Jim Lane  
4 Carl Seel  
5 Judy Burges  
  Black Helicopter
3 Kelly Townsend  
6 Ethan Orr  
2 Sal DiCiccio  
7 Andy Tobin  
1 Steve Yarbrough  
8 Jeff Dial  
4 Debbie Lesko  
5 Rick Murphy  
  Go Along To Get Along
3 Kelli Ward  
6 Kimberly Yee  
2 Tom Horne  
7 Frank Antenori  



Bay at the Moon – Urban region

AJ Lafaro is the current chair of the Maricopa County GOP.  While he is the lowest profile 1 seed, he has a long history of “colorful” behavior.  He’s one of the leading lights of the Loon wing of the AZGOP.

Ally Miller is a current member of the Pima County Board of Supervisors and is a darling of the tea party types in southern Arizona.  She eked her way into this year’s bracket with some late-season antics.  She’s an up-and-comer in the Loon wing.  Not expected to do much this year, but has all of the earmarks of someone who is on the path to being a perennial contender.

Favorite: Lafaro


Michele Ugenti is currently a member of the AZ House of Representatives.  Another tea party type, her hallmark is consistency – she is constantly working to undermine the will of the voters and to push neo-confederate (aka – anti-federal government) measures.

Andy Biggs, the president of the AZ State Senate.  His arrogance towards “the little people” (aka – voters and anyone who disagrees with him) is the stuff of legends.

Favorite: Tossup


John Kavanagh is the chair of the Appropriations Committee in the AZ House.  While he has spent his most or all of his entire adult life drawing a publicly-funded paycheck (Port Authority of NY/NJ Police Department, Scottsdale Community College, AZ legislature), he has dedicated his career to bashing public employees.  Oh, and he bashes immigrants.  A lot.  To the point where I’ve referred to him as “Russell Pearce with a New York accent“.  Which brings us to the other half of this first round matchup –

Russell Pearce, a former state legislator (House and Senate) and president of the Senate.  Before he became the first sitting AZ legislator ever recalled in disgrace, he was the leading light of the nativist caucus of the AZGOP.  Currently hosts a low end wingnut radio show.

Favorite: Kavanagh, by a slim margin over his friend and ally


John Huppenthal is the Arizona State Superintendent of Public Instruction.  He uses his office and title to persuade parents to put their children into private and charter schools.

The Gilbert school district governing board has seemingly come out of nowhere this year.  Previously, the Gilbert school system was a “crown jewel” of Arizona’s public education system.  Now that tea party types have taken control of the governing board, the district is a bubbling cauldron of dysfunction and discontent, leading to a mass exodus of district employees.

Favorite: Huppenthal.  It seems that every couple of years, some low-level political entity in Arizona suffers the political equivalent of a complete psychotic break.  Before this, it was the town of Quartzsite; now it is the Gilbert school district.  Next time around, it will be someone else.  Huppenthal is like certain STDs – he never goes completely away.


Bay at the Moon – Rural region

Al Melvin, a state senator and candidate for governor.  Known for many things, including not being the brightest light in the night sky.  So well-rounded in his brand of lunacy that he has to be considered the favorite in this particular tourney.

Adam Kwasman, a state representative and candidate for Congress.  Opposed the 2013 restoration of AHCCCS eligibility with a passion that most people reserve for root canals.

Favorite: Melvin


Cathi Herrod is the president of the most influential lobby at the lege, the Center for Arizona Theocracy Policy.  During the last couple of legislative sessions, she has had her hate on for the LGBT community.  She was reputed to be personally responsible for killing an anti-bullying bill because of fears it would block the harassment of LGBT students in 2012, was the driving force behind a “show your papers before you pee” measure in 2013, pushed to override a City of Phoenix anti-discrimination ordinance, and was behind 2014’s SB1062, legalizing discrimination that can be “justified” with a religion-based rationale.

Chester Crandell, a state senator from Heber.  He’s relatively low-profile (compared to many other GOPer members of the lege) but his “causes” run the gamut from anti-teacher to anti-federal government.

Favorite: Herrod, and it’s not even close (no matter the seedings).  If not for the rebuffs of some of her recent efforts, she would have been seeded much higher.  Still *very* influential at the Capitol, though.


Bob Thorpe, a rural state representative who once suggested that some anti-“Agenda 21” gun nuts express their “enthusiasm” for the 2nd Amendment upon the person of Sandy Bahr, director of the Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon Chapter.

Jim Brown (*not* the pro football great), a Republican businessman running for Congress in CD2.  He garnered national attention earlier this year when he posted on Facebook the reasons that he thought that slavery was actually a pretty good deal…for the slaves.

Favorite: Thorpe


Don Shooter, currently a state senator from Yuma, has a long history of embarrassing the state and his constituents (but obviously, not himself) with his antics.  Once appeared at a special session of the lege in a serape and a sombrero, carrying a half-empty bottle of tequila.  Then, in the aftermath of the mass murder of children and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary, he barged into his grandson’s school and accosted at teacher.  This year, he pronounced that he is going to keep accepting bribes “gifts” from lobbyists until legislative pay is increased.

Brenda Barton, currently a rural state representative.  Another one who checks all of the boxes on the wingnut checklist.  Her most recent claim to fame was a Facebook post comparing President Barack Obama to Adolph Hitler.

Favorite: Shooter.  In any bracket not containing Al Melvin, he’d be a credible 1 seed.


Black Helicopter region

Andrew Thomas, a disbarred former Maricopa County Attorney and current candidate for governor.  Has blamed everyone for his problems.  Everyone but himself.   Why does he rate a 1 seed?  He’s been disbarred over his conduct in office and still thinks he’s a viable candidate for governor.

Jim Lane, mayor of Scottsdale, used his first term in that office to turn the City of Scottsdale into a petri dish for the corporate lobbying group “conservative think tank” and to amass the kind of warchest that all but outright bought him a second term.  Recently flirted with running for Arizona State Treasurer, but would have had to resign his office under AZ’s ‘resign to run” law.

Favorite: Thomas.  Lane is bad, but Thomas is special.


Carl Seel and Judy Burges – one blurb here, because both have basically the same profile.  Both are state legislators (Seel – House, Burges – Senate).  Both are “birthers” of wide renown (Seel; Burges). And both only see higher office by playing tourist and taking the tour.

Favorite: Tossup


Kelly Townsend, currently a state representative and bigwig among AZ’s tea party types.  No single outstanding insanity incident, but she is incredibly well-rounded – hates Obama, the federal government, public employees, public schools, minorities…

Ethan Orr, currently a state representative.  Has the distinction of being the only R elected from a D-leaning district.  As such, spends his days triangulating his ass off (as in voting for gun nut measures and against SB1062).  May end up on meds for bipolar disorder by the time all is said and done.

Favorite: Townsend.  Orr has the makings of a “one and done”, but Townsend looks like she will be a contender for years (a safe R district helps here)


Sal DiCiccio is a current member of the Phoenix City Council who bring a mentality to the job that is almost “Jersey-like” (pushing a freeway extension where the primary beneficiary seems to be DiCiccio himself).  Like many of the contenders in this year’s tourney, he despises actual public servants.  Observers were surprised when he didn’t dance on the grave of a detective from the Phoenix PD who was recently killed in the line of duty.

Andy Tobin is the Speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives and a candidate for Congress.  His claim to fame is his dubious effectiveness in that role – AHCCCS restoration was passed and enacted over his opposition, while this year’s petty and punitive budget was, in significant part, his brainchild.  In other words, he has nothing positive to point to as part of his record.

Favorite: DiCiccio.  Tobin has some wingnut game, but after his matchup with DiCiccio, he will be asking if anyone got the plate number of that truck.


Go Along To Get Along region

Steve Yarbrough is a longtime legislator (current state senator) who apparently made a fortune off of school tuition tax credits that take money from public education and siphons it into the coffers of private and charter schools.  And he has businesses set up to take a cut off of the top.

Jeff Dial is a current state representative (candidate for state senate).  He has tried to garner to “moderate” street cred during this year’s budget games, but he’s as much a “moderate” as I am a Yankees fan.

Favorite: Yarbrough


Debbie Lesko is a state representative and is the Arizona chair for the shady yet notorious big business lobbying group ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council).

Rick Murphy is a state senator who has faced molestation allegations and was investigated by Child Protective Services and the police over those allegations.  The investigations were closed with no charges filed.

Favorite: Tossup, with slight edge to Lesko (hence the higher seeding).


Kelli Ward is a state senator and physician who has dedicated her political career to fighting healthcare for the poor.

Kimberly Yee is a state senator from a safe R district who seems to be angling for higher office.  Never a true moderate, she was still known as one of the more thoughtful members of the lege.  Now, she is leaning, and voting, ever more reflexively conservative.

Favorite:  Ward, though Yee could easily produce an upset here.  Regardless of who wins this particular matchup, both are set up to be perennial contenders.


Tom Horne is Arizona’s Attorney General.  Elected to the office in 2010, the best thing that has happened to him since is something that *hasn’t* happened – he hasn’t been disbarred or indicted.  Yet, anyway.

Frank Antenori is a former state senator.  After he lost in 2012, he tried to remain politically relevant by leading an effort to refer the restoration of AHCCCS eligibility to the ballot.  The effort failed.

Favorite:  Horne.  No question.


Look for the results of the first round matchups on Wednesday…

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AZ BlueMeanie
The Blue Meanie is an Arizona citizen who wishes, for professional reasons, to remain anonymous when blogging about politics. Armed with a deep knowledge of the law, politics and public policy, as well as pen filled with all the colors stolen from Pepperland, the Blue Meanie’s mission is to pursue and prosecute the hypocrites, liars, and fools of politics and the media – which, in practical terms, is nearly all of them. Don’t even try to unmask him or he’ll seal you in a music-proof bubble and rendition you to Pepperland for a good face-stomping. Read blog posts by the infamous and prolific AZ Blue Meanie here.


  1. Sadly, you could easily fill the entire 64-slot bracket with wingnut politicians in Arizona and still have enough left for a NIT (wit) tournament.

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