DECEMBER 22, 2010
The Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry is wrapping up 2010 and getting ready to welcome 2011 as we prepare for the next legislative session.
But before we say goodbye to 2010, I wanted to look back on the year and hand out some recognition for the leaders and events that made us applaud, and those that made us cringe.
So, without further ado, I bring you the first annual edition of the Hammers…
Politician of the Year, National: Marco Rubio
Sen.-elect Marco Rubio captured the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in Florida over popular Gov. Charlie Crist, who cut his losses and chose to run as an Independent. Rubio generated the type of national enthusiasm rarely seen for a Senate candidate while overwhelming Crist and Democratic nominee Rep. Kendrick Meek in the general election.
Politician of the Year, State: Jan Brewer
The Hammer goes to Gov. Brewer for the steady hand she kept over state government in the face of a deep, deep recession and her big election wins: a sales tax increase via Proposition 100 and her own re-election to another term on the ninth floor. Many had written her candidacy off in early 2010, as Republicans lined up to face her in the GOP primary and a popular Democrat attorney general waltzed unopposed in his party’s primary to the general election. But Brewer came roaring back and cruised to electoral victory as she became the national face for an America fed up with a Washington, D.C. government that can’t control the country’s borders, is spending our grandkids’ money and is passing huge new health care mandates. I also extend an honorable mention to Brewer campaign consultant Chuck Coughlin, who oversaw an excellent campaign.
Biggest Disappointment, National: The passage of the health care bill
The new national health care law is going to place a huge burden on the states as Medicaid rolls expand, crushing state budgets already hemorrhaging red ink. There’s no debate that the U.S. health care system needed serious reform as far too many Americans are uninsured. But for the majority party to ram this plan down the throats of the American people is not only disappointing, but it played a big role in Democrats’ loss of over 60 House seats in November.
Biggest Disappointment, State: Rep. Raul Grijalva calls for a boycott of Arizona
The Hammer goes to Raul Grijalva for his call for a boycott of Arizona in the wake of the passage of SB 1070. We can disagree over the best way to deal with illegal immigration, but hurting people economically who had nothing to do with the law’s passage is just wrong. The boycott call almost cost Rep. Grijalva a super-safe congressional seat to an outstanding rookie GOP candidate. Rep. Grijalva thankfully recognized the error of his ways and withdrew the boycott call.
Best Political Book of the Year: The Blueprint: How the Democrats Won Colorado (and Why Republicans Everywhere Should Care)
In The Blueprint, authors Adam Schrager and Rob Witwer take a Hammer-winning in-depth and non-partisan look at how Colorado Democrats in four years racked up win after win after win. With a combination of big bucks, committed leaders and solid planning, Colorado Democrats put on a masterful performance from 2004-2008. Republicans across the country should pay attention.
The Rudy Giuliani Problem-Solver of the Year: Chris Christie
This was the year of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. When videos of your town halls hit the Web and go viral, you know your message is cutting through the noise; and it earns you a Hammer. Christie rolled up his sleeves and made the cuts that previous governors wouldn’t, stood up to the unions who had run New Jersey and helped make pension reform the next hot topic in policymaking circles. Though he says he’s not interested, many Republicans are wishing and hoping for a Christie presidential run.
The State’s Most Influential Unelected Official: Eileen Klein
The Hammer goes to Eileen Klein in her role as chief of staff to Gov. Brewer. Her rave reviews from constituencies across the state speak to her outstanding abilities as the governor’s top staffer during a time of economic crisis. We at the Chamber know Eileen from her time as the chair of our Public Affairs Committee, so her accomplishments come as no surprise to us.
Best Investigative Journalism: The Arizona Republic‘s “Public Pensions: A Soaring Burden”
Reporter Craig Harris and The Arizona Republic win the Hammer for their series on the state’s public pension system. The stories were exhibit A of the power of strong investigative journalism. His series will be felt for generations to come, as his reporting already has pension managers and legislators proposing fixes to preserve the state’s retirement system.
Most Under-Reported Story of the Year: Arizona’s regulatory reforms
Companies consider a state’s regulatory environment when making a decision where to locate or expand their operations. Red tape is not part of a recipe of economic success. Led by Gov. Brewer, Majority Leader Andy Tobin and Senate President Bob Burns, Arizona made big strides in the regulatory arena in 2010 to show the rest of the world that business is welcome here.
Flameout of the Year: Meg Whitman
She spent $160 million on her campaign, but former E-Bay CEO Meg Whitman still lost to 1970’s rerun Jerry Brown in the California governor’s race. So much for California being on the cutting edge. This is the equivalent of America re-electing Jimmy Carter for president. But California’s goof can be Arizona’s good fortune. The next legislative session presents a great opportunity to pass a job-creation bill to show a clear distinction between the business environment of Arizona and our friends to the west.
The Don’t Be Gone Long Award: Rep. John Shadegg
The Hammer goes to retiring Rep. John Shadegg, who is leaving Congress after winning his first election as part of the historic freshman class of 1994. Rep. Shadegg has always stayed true to the values espoused in the Contract with America, even when many of his colleagues compromised their principles. Rep. Shadegg comes from a prominent political family. His father, Stephen Shadegg, was a close adviser to Barry Goldwater and wrote the still-influential How to Win an Election. Rep. Shadegg could write the sequel. You’ll be missed, Congressman.
All of us at the Arizona Chamber want to wish you and yours a safe and prosperous New Year. We’ll be back in 2011 to continue our advocacy for our state’s business community and working hard to make Arizona’s economy strong.
Glenn Hamer is the president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry.