Nancy Barto was selected by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors to
replace LD 7 State Representative David Burnell Smith, who was forced
out of office for campaign finance violations. Although Burnell Smith
was one of the six nominated by the LD 7 PCs to replace himself, the
PCs were wise enough not to select him as one of the three names to
forward to the Board.
The Board selected Mrs. Barto, who was the LD 7 Chairperson of the
Republican Party, over Howard Levine and Howard Sprague. Her selection
is about as close to re-selecting Burnell Smith as they could get
without actually trying that stunt, however. Mrs. Barto is a staunch
supporter of Burnell Smith in his fight with the Clean Elections
Commission and the courts to keep his job. Mrs. Barto claims that there
is still strong support for Burnell Smith in the district, as well as
strong animosity toward the Commission.
Barto said, “I’m disappointed that they [the Commission] would go this
route. I don’t think they have the authority to overrule the voters of
this district.” The Arizona Supreme Court and the voters of Arizona, in
adopting and continuing to support Clean Elections, disagreed.
Nancy Barto is a 47 year old housewife who is a very active member of the Republican party, lives in Carefree, AZ, and counted herself a member of the Pure Heart Christian Fellowship in Glendale, AZ as of 2003. She was a pledged delegate to the 2004 RNC Convention in New York. She contributed $600 to the Arizona Republican Party on 5/21/2004, but she apparently didn’t make any other political contributions since 1994. She attended the National Federation of Republican Assemblies (NFRA) convention in 2005. If you are not familiar with the organization, know that the Republican Assemblies calls itself “the Republican Wing of the Republican Party” and sponsors RINO hunts, and are unequivocal about their far-Right beliefs.
Barto’s real claim to fame among her fellow conservatives, however, is her anti-abortion activism, particularly her participation in a lawsuit which eventually made it to the U.S. Supreme Court striking down Phoenix municipal restrictions on abortion clinic protests. Barto calls herself a “sidewalk counselor” – others might call her a harasser of women seeking to access legal medical services. Either way, Barto is a deeply committed opponent of women’s reproductive rights, as demonstrated by her lobbying efforts to restrict access to abortion services and legal activism.
Barto caused some controversy in recent weeks because of her perceived opposition to the candidacy of Thom Von Hapsburg for the LD 7 slot she has now captured for herself. Von Hapsburg claims that Barto black-listed him because he is not a born-again Christian, is openly gay, and supports abortion rights.
“Nancy Barto has said publicly several times that she will not bring my name forward at all,” said Von Hapsburg.
Barto claims she has never mentioned his name in a public forum. “I don’t know where he gets this. What I’ve said to reporters who asked me is I don’t think the precinct committeemen would consider him seriously, because he was not as conservative as they are,” she said.
"She has made several statements publicly that she would never allow my name to be brought forward because I don’t represent family values and I’m also a baby killer," said Von Hapsburg.
I find Von Hapsburg’s claims of being singled out politically by Barto to be credible given Barto’s beliefs and political history.
Barto has a paper trail on a few other issues. She is a foe of public transportation, having lobbied against light rail in Phoenix. She is apparently in favor of destroying the merit selection of judges in Arizona, and injecting further politics into the process. She is likely also committed to injecting Christian values and dogma into the public schools. She said of a program designed to promote diversity and tolerance that the program “puts the country in a falsely aggressive light and instructs teachers to tell students to join organizations,” some of which were named as the National Organization of Women, People for the American Way, Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
The picture which emerges upon a close examination of Nancy Barto is that of an intolerant, moralizing, culture war-mongering, right-wing, theocratic, Christian soldier intent on using her political position to further the agenda of the far-Right. Perhaps that is what the voters of LD7 would have wanted, but either way, they certainly have a right to know that this is the representation they’ll get for the next 11 months.