Arizona’s Legislative District 6 (LD6) is populated by mostly moderate, sensible people. So Democratic Perspective asked, “Why is it represented in the state legislature by a trio of right wing extremists, otherwise known as Rep. Brenda Barton, Rep. Bob Thorpe and Sen. Chester Crandell?”
By all accounts, Barton actually lives in Stafford, which is outside the district. But she claims her cabin in Payson as her residence in order to qualify to represent the district. Thorpe is a leader of the Tea Party in Williams. And Crandell hails from Heber. All three posed as reasonable conservatives during the 2012 campaign. But once they arrived in the Statehouse, their true colors were exposed through a series of bills challenging the federal government and calling for nullification of federal laws. More recently, their extremism has been on display through Twitter.
For example, after US Attorney General Eric Holder announced sentencing reforms for drug possession crimes, Arizona State Rep. Bob Thorpe tweeted “Why is Holder now Soft on Crime? Perhaps: black = 12%-13% US population, but make up 40.1% (2.1 million) of male inmates in jail or prison.” When a colleague called the tweet racially offensive, Thorpe doubled down by tweeting “What’s Holder’s motivation for reversing extremely low crime rates? Could harm minorities the most!”
Not content with expressing those racist opinions, Thorpe tweeted his outrage that “three 15-year-old blacks” accused of beating up a white teenager received less notice by the “liberal press” than George Zimmerman. Other offensive tweets included “Obama freely gives money to Muslim Brotherhood, failing solar companies, but denies victims of Arizona Yarnell Fire …”
When Thorpe tweeted that the antics of the rodeo clown who wore a mask of President Obama at the Missouri State Fair were “crowd pleasing” he received such a negative reaction that he at least temporarily shut down his Twitter account. Barton’s tweet on the subject was no less offensive. She tweeted “I hope rodeo clowns this season all wear Obama masks in solidarity with the guy who lost his job because Barry’s hide is so thin…”
But it isn’t just his offensive tweets that have caused problems for Thorpe. He sponsored a bill that would require public high school students in Arizona to recite an oath supporting the US Constitution. In April, he was forced to cancel a sale of bulletproof vests in the state Capitol that he organized for other lawmakers. In May, he was forced to apologize when Republican colleagues received threatening messages after Thorpe asked constituents to contact Republicans who supported Medicaid expansion. And he backed a bill to prevent state enforcement of federally enacted gun safety laws that would clearly be unconstitutional if passed…a bill that was also sponsored by Barton.
Barton and Thorpe also sponsored a bill that would prohibit the federal government from implementing a health care exchange in Arizona.
And it’s not just the federal government that has Thorpe worried. He views Agenda 21, the nonbinding UN agreement signed by 178 nations that encourages sustainable and environmentally friendly practices, as a threat to US and, more important to Thorpe, Arizona sovereignty.
Not to be outdone, Barton sponsored a resolution encouraging a nuclear waste reprocessing facility in Northern Arizona. And Sen. Crandell authored a measure supported by Barton and Thorpe that would claim state sovereignty over all federal parks and forests in Arizona – 45 million acres.
Is this really the kind of representation we want for our district?