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Dueling Prop 100 rallies trade barbs at the Capitol

Samuel "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher spoke to a crowd rallying against Proposition 100 at the capitol on Friday, March 26. (Photo by Josh Coddington)
Samuel “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher speaks to a crowd rallying against Proposition 100 at the state Capitol on Friday, March 26. (Photo by Josh Coddington)

Rallies for and against Proposition 100 set up at the Capitol on Friday, chanting at each other across the mall and showing their support for the cameras.

The two rallies started at nearly the same time, with Sen. Thayer Verschoor’s Ax the Tax campaign, which drew nearly 100 people, opening with former congressman and U.S. Senate hopeful J.D. Hayworth, who emceed the event. The Yes on 100 campaign started its speeches a little later, though its chants of “Save our schools,” “Just one cent” and “For our kids” could be heard while Verschoor and others spoke against the temporary one-cent sales tax increase that goes before voters on May 18. The anti-tax group countered the Yes on 100 crowd with chants of “Ax the tax.”

“That’s the kind of intimidation that the Yes on 100 folks are using all over the state,” Verschoor said.

Yes on 100, which drew more than 50 supporters, was focused solely on the special election, while the anti-tax rally combined tea party activism, campaign activities and, of course, a keynote speech by Samuel “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher, who became a political celebrity while campaigning for Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign. Hayworth supporters waved signs and sold buttons, while Republican gubernatorial candidates Buz Mills and state Treasurer Dean Martin set up tables to collect petition signatures. Mills attended the event but did not speak.

Wurzelbacher said little about Prop. 100, but spoke about the need for tea party activists and likeminded people to dedicate themselves to their cause.

“You were blessed enough to be born in the greatest country in the world. There’s a responsibility that comes with that,” he said. “John Adams had to ride a horse in the dead of winter over 400 miles through freezing weather to go take a meeting. Think about that for a second. That was his commitment level. What is your commitment level?”

Along with Wurzelbacher, Hayworth and Verschoor, the Ax the Tax rally featured speeches by former gubernatorial hopeful Don Goldwater, Americans For Prosperity-Arizona head Tom Jenney, local tea party leaders Ron Ludders and Wes Harris, and Farrell Quinlan, director of the Arizona chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business. About a dozen Republican lawmakers were in the crowd, but didn’t speak.

While Ax the Tax had Joe the Plumber, the Yes on 100 campaign touted itself as having the support of “average Joes,” several of whom were teachers who spoke at the event. Jo Bell, an English teacher in Gilbert, railed against the Legislature and governor’s scrapping of Arizona’s all-day kindergarten program, while Mesa Skyline High School government teacher Joe Thomas said Prop. 100 had the support of Arizonans, not just Ohioans like Wurzelbacher.

“Our students who do not have all-day kindergarten will not be as prepared,” Bell said. “Our legislators are taking that away from our kids. They are taking away that opportunity for success.”

Consultant Max Fose, of the Yes on 100 campaign, said his group decided to hold its rally at the same time as the highly publicized Joe the Plumber appearance to emphasize who was supporting the sales tax hike

“We’ll take teachers, parents and people who care about education in Arizona anytime over someone from Ohio,” Fose said.

7 comments

  1. I don’t know who was counting the crowd for you, but I was there and the “Average Joe” Rally had well over 100 people there.

  2. I’m VOTING YES ON PROPOSITION 100!!!!

  3. I was there and I walked through the “Yes on 100″ crowd and spoke with a good number of semi-drunk homeless men who had been paid to stand there with “Yes on 100″ signs. I actually saw them signing “No on 100″ petitions until one of the “Yes on 100″ officials came over and stopped them; it was hilarious…..

  4. John, If you dislike Arizona so much (I assume you must based on your thinly veiled post against prop 100) and want to sabotage our education system, why don’t you relocate to another state where they don’t care about educating our children? Maybe even another country? Please consider it because you are helping destroy Arizona.

  5. If Prop 100 2010 is not passed it is estimated 15-20% of teachers in the state will lose their jobs. If this isn’t motivation enough for every teacher to get out and vote, read on…..

    If these teachers are fired, classrooms condense, if classrooms condense, individualized test scores lower and funding drops. If funding drops, MORE teachers get fired. It is a vicious circle. Vote YES now and then let’s get someone in office for our county that puts education at a premium after!

    Coach Brice Williams

  6. If Arizona’s school systems are so fragile such that their survival depends on the 1% increase in tax, they need fundamental reform. The 1% tax will not solve the problem.

  7. Prop 100 is a terrible idea being fueled by lies. Of course the politicians are going to tell us teachers will be laid off, police will not be there to protect us, and all kinds of things like state parks and libraries will close. Those are things we care about, so people get scared when they are told they will lose them without this tax. The sad thing is we might, but only because our politicians do not want to make the hard decisions. Some special interest projects will have to go, and those special interest project make great sob stories on the evening news.

    The state budget has grown outrageously in the last 6 years. If the budget had merely grown to account for the population growth and inflation we would be in the black. Were we not paying teachers reasonable wages 6 years ago? Did we not have police on the streets? Parks and libraries for our children? You all need to ask you representatives what was added to the budget on their watch and why it is more important than the things they are scaring us with.

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