by David Safier
"Republican votes like a Republican!" That's no more newsworthy than "Democrat votes like a Democrat!" or "Water runs downhill!" But when a Republican like Ethan Orr wears his moderate credentials as a badge of courage, then he votes with the NRA and the school privatization/voucher crowd, that deserves to make the news.
Orr is the sole Republican legislator in Legislative District 9, which stretches from mid-Tucson through the Foothills to Avra Valley and is one of Arizona's few swing districts. He's a nice, sensitive, even kinda lovable guy, and sometimes he defies his Republican colleagues. So some Democrats and progressive-leaning Independents in the LD like him. But the NRA likes him even more, courtesy of his votes on making guns more a part of Arizona life than they are already. And his votes on education . . . well, when I heard him talk about education on the campaign trail, he adopted the proper "I love children and I'm for education" tilt of the head, but he steered clear of specifics, and his votes show why.
Here are a couple of Orr's latest votes.
HB 2339, approved on a 34-22 vote and sent to the Senate, says anyone who has gone through the state-required training and background check to have what’s called a CCW permit can ignore the “no guns” signs, whether or not there are lockers available.
He voted for that bill not once but twice: in the Judiciary Committee in February, then again last Wednesday, March 12, on the House floor. Victoria Steele, the Democratic House member from LD-9, voted No.
The conservative voucher expansion du jour is the push to increase the number of children who can go to private schools or be home schooled on the public dime courtesy of a program called Empowerment Scholarship Accounts. This Monday, March 17, Orr voted Yes on a bill, HB2139, expanding the program. Steele voted No.
If we dumb down "moderate" to mean less out-there than Andy Tobin and not fizzing with rabies like Russell Pearce, then Ethan Orr qualifies. But his "moderation" ends when it comes to issues like sane gun legislation and, recently, public education. His stand on women's health issues is abysmal as well. Calling him a moderate with positions like those pushes the definition of the term to the breaking point.