Napolitano avoids Dean during Phoenix visit
Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean was in Phoenix Wednesday but the state's top Democrat -- Gov. Janet Napolitano -- steered clear of the liberal bulldog during his Arizona visit.
Dean addressed a rally hosted by the Young Democrats of Arizona and attended by state Democratic Party chairman Jim Pederson. Pederson is a shopping mall developer and is considering a challenge next year to GOP U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl.
But the head of the Democratic ticket, Napolitano, was not at the Dean appearance and had no meetings scheduled with the former Vermont governor and vanquished 2004 presidential candidate.
Napolitano spokeswoman Jeanine L'Ecuyer gave the obligatory scheduling conflict as the reason for no face time with Dean. Napolitano was in Mesa Wednesday morning, appeared on the local National Public Radio affiliate for a lunchtime interview and was scheduled to meet with high-tech and business executives this afternoon regarding the "sales factor" tax cut bill.
The Democratic governor has thrived politically in Republican-oriented Arizona by appealing to moderate voters and portraying herself as a pro-business, centrist. Napolitano is up for re-election next year and could face a challenge from U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona or Marilyn Quayle, the wife of former vice president Dan Quayle.
The governor has avoided getting mixed in with the more left-wing, Michael Moore/MoveOn factions of the Democratic Party. Napolitano did not endorse Dean or another Democratic presidential hopeful last year until after Sen. John Kerry won the Arizona primary and had essentially secured the nomination.
Dean rallied Democratic partisans during his Phoenix visit on Wednesday, trying to boost their spirits after Bush and the GOP carried the state in November. The DNC chair has visited a number of GOP "red states" since taking over as party chief executive earlier this year.
The DNC chair advocated universal health coverage and criticized the Bush administration for proposed Social Security privatization, budget deficits and tax cuts for the wealthy.
Dean called the GOP a "corrupt party' but lauded Republican Sen. John McCain for opposing conservative efforts to chain Senate filibuster rules in order to get votes on Bush judicial nominees.
Dean made no comments regarding immigration and a business-backed guest worker program put forward by McCain, Sen. Ted Kennedy , D-Mass. and Arizona GOP Congressmen Jim Kolbe and Jeff Flake .
Dean also hailed Tuesday's election of Democrat Antonio Villaraigosa as mayor of Los Angeles. Villaraigosa defeated fellow Democrat James Hahn to become L.A.'s first Hispanic mayor in more than century. Dean said the GOP cannot boast of that kind of diversity in its roster of mayors or U.S. senators.
The DNC chair failed to point out the U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla., and top Bush administration officials --Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez -- are Hispanic and that the GOP improved its standing with Latinos in the November vote.
Arizona Republican Party Chairman Matt Salmon termed Dean an "ultra-liberal" and accused Democrats of not offering solutions to problems facing the country.
"Uhhh... they might be unlawful aliens but otherwise lawful citizens"
~ Alberto Gonzalez, US Attorney General at his confirmation hearing, Jan. 6, 2005.