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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended August 27, 2000
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News about Mormons, Mormonism,
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Sent on Mormon-News: 26Aug00

Summarized by Kent Larsen

Two Mormons Battle For Arizona State Senate Seat

GILBERT, ARIZONA -- Jeff Groscost, Speaker of the Arizona State House of Representatives is facing a stiff Republican Primary challenge from fellow LDS Church member Ron Bellus. A profile of the race in the Arizona Republic says this race for the 30th district State Senate seat sticks out among all the state legislature races since it pitts Groscost, one of the most powerful politicians in the state against a former press aid to impeached Gov. Evan Mecham (also Mormon).

Much of the battle has so far centered on Groscosts record, with Bellus saying "I believe Jeff has stayed longer than he needs to. I'm offering, more than anything, a new voice, a new perspective."

Bellus has attacked Groscost over his backing of a new stadium for the Arizona Cardinals NFL franchise. Groscost pushed for the proposed stadium, which is to be paid for by increased tourism-related taxes, such as taxes on hotel rooms and taxi fares. He says that he wanted to find a way to fund the stadium without a tax increase, but this way "I think it's a reasonable choice."

Bellus disagrees. "I'm not for raising taxes to pay for a private enterprise," he said. "If it's such a good investment, then why aren't members of the Fortune 500 lining up to do it?"The former sportscaster adds that in spite of his own passion for sports, the current proposal is still "financing a place for millionaires to play a game."

But with the exception of a few key issues, Bellus admits that there are "more similarities than differences between the two [candidates]." In addition to a common religion, both have conservative Republican views and agree on most issues. But Bellus notes that having a common religion isn't all that odd, given the number of Mormons in the district.

The 49-year-old Bellus is married and has seven children and runs a small marketing business with a handful of clients. He is best known for what may be his biggest asset as well as his biggest liability -- his year as press secretary for then-Governor Evan Mecham, the controversial LDS Church member who was impeached and removed from office. In 1998 Bellus wrote a book "Silence cannot be misquoted" about his experience, claiming that people were going after Mecham and leaving other politicians alone. He says the experience taught him "how the dynamics work and how so often egos get involved" in politics, in the process toughening him and maturing him.

Groscost, 39, is also married and has five children. A fifth-generation Arizonan, he has developed a reputation as a master of procedure, studying the rules of the legislature when others ignore them. He favors common Republican issues such as cutting taxes, charter schools and deregulating the electric utility industry. He opposes involving the public schools in a proposed campaign to signup underprivileged kids in health insurance programs and wants to phase-out Indian gambling "as soon as possible."

Groscost also opposes the Sierra Club's Citizens Growth Management Initiative, instead supporting the Growing Smarter II plan, which "though not perfect," is more reasonable and effective.

Either Bellus or Groscost will be selected in the September 12th primary to face Democrat Jay Blanchard, 53, also of Gilbert in the general election.


Race in house speaker's district stands out among snoozers
(Phoenix) AZ Republic 23Aug00 T2
By Chris Fiscus: Arizona Republic


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