Rep. Victoria Steele said House Minority Leader Chad Campbell threatened to kill her legislation and committee assignments next year in retaliation for her endorsement of Fred DuVal in the 2014 governor’s race.
Campbell, who has expressed an interest in the race and is expected to challenge DuVal in the Democratic primary next year, emphatically denied the allegation.
Steele, D-Tucson, said Campbell called her on Wednesday after DuVal released a list of endorsements by eight House Democrats, including her.
“He did say, ‘I have a long memory and I will never forget what you did,’” Steele said.
Steele emphasized that she didn’t think Campbell would actually block her legislation or committee assignments. She said he was just venting after learning about the endorsement.
I never really thought that he would retaliate or seek retribution in any way. He was saying things that he didn’t mean in the heat of the moment. I never once thought he would do any of those things that he was saying,” Steele said.
“He’s not that kind of a person. He’s an intense person, and this took him by surprise.”
Steele said she called a friend to express her concern after the call, and that the friend contacted the Arizona Capitol Times about the incident.
Campbell, D-Phoenix, said he never threatened Steele in any way. He said he called Steele to tell her that he was disappointed that she didn’t give him a heads-up that was endorsing his potential opponent in the Democratic primary.
“I told her it would’ve been nice to have a common courtesy call before you endorse somebody else,” Campbell said, adding that he sent a similar text message to another lawmaker who endorsed DuVal.
Campbell said he never told Steele that he had a “long memory.” He made a similar comment to the Yellow Sheet Report, a sister publication of the Arizona Capitol Times, after DuVal released the endorsements. He said he meant only that the nature of his relationship with Steele had changed because he can no longer trust her.
Steele said Campbell has since called her to apologize. She wouldn’t say exactly what he apologized for, but said she accepted his apology.
The freshman lawmaker also praised Campbell and the work he did during the 2013 session and said he personally helped her out during the session.
Steel said she endorsed DuVal because she was impressed by his credentials, including his work in the early 1980s with former Gov. Bruce Babbitt’s administration on the creation of the original Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System program in the early 1980s, as well as the fact that he’s a fellow Tucsonan. The endorsement had nothing to do with Campbell, she said.
“Chad is a fierce leader. He was amazing in the fight for Medicaid,” Steele said. “We could not have done what we did without his quality of leadership.”