This is the time when the skeletons come out, and we’re not talking about Halloween.
With election season in full swing, reporters and political operatives are looking into the backgrounds of candidates for public office and finding criminal convictions, bankruptcies, unpaid bills and any other kinds of embarrassments.
Republican Steve May, former state legislator and current candidate for House District 17, understands this. He claims he even tried to shop around the story of his own drunken driving arrest in an attempt at being transparent.
“I kind of wanted somebody to cover it, but no one was interested,” said May, who spent 10 nights in jail in April, getting out for 12 hours a day to work on weekdays.
May, who was a write-in candidate in the primary, didn’t want to discuss the details of his arrest, however.
“This election is important and getting caught up in the National Enquirer details of my failures is not important,” he said.
According to court documents, May was traveling northbound on Interstate 17 near Peoria May 25, 2009, when a state Department of Public Safety officer clocked him going 83 mph in a 55 mph zone.
May told the officer he had three beers and two gin and tonics and the officer described him as smelling of booze, confused and headed in the wrong direction of his home, which is where he said he was going.
He registered .206 and .202 blood alcohol content in breath tests, although court records don’t say how long after his arrest he tested. A person is considered intoxicated at .08.
“It’s a fact of my life, something I went through and frankly I learned a lot from it. Not proud of what I did, but I paid the consequences and that’s it,” he said.
May wasn’t the first candidate to contend with a DUI this year.
Republican Lori Klein, Senate District 6 candidate, has a 2009 conviction that became the topic of blogs among her GOP opponent’s supporters.
Klein wrote about her experience on her campaign website under the heading of “Lessons Learned,” saying she didn’t feel impaired after drinking two glasses of wine and was surprised to learn she was legally intoxicated.
A nearly two-year-old legal problem for Rep. Cloves Campbell Jr. came to light when he was going for his third consecutive term in the Democratic primary of House District 16.
According to a default judgment filed in Maricopa County Superior Court in April 2009, Campbell was sued by The Leadership Consortium for $14,760 and he never responded to the suit, which was filed in November 2008.
The judgment does not provide details on the conflict between Campbell and the Leadership Consortium, a Valley-based non-profit that recruits and identifies leaders of color.
Barry Dill, a Democratic consultant, said he believed that Campbell’s opponents, Catherine Miranda and Ruben Gallego, just worked harder than Campbell did, and his legal problem had no bearing on the outcome.
And Republican Tom Horne had to explain a lifetime trading ban by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and his failure to report a 1970 bankruptcy in several annual reports for his law firm during his primary run for Attorney General.
May, who plans to raise $100,000 in contributions and pour another $100,000 of his own money in the race, said he’s hearing his DUI could become a campaign issue, but he plans to stay focused.
“This campaign is not about mistakes of my past,” he said. “It’s about the future of Arizona, it’s about spending, it’s about jobs, it’s about a balanced budget, it’s about education, it’s about fighting for security and freedom.”
So as the Nov. 2 election nears, expect a few more skeletons to appear in races throughout Arizona.
– Gary Grado