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
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