Tim Steller has a column in today's Star putting a "Moderatometer" to LD-9 Republican Rep. Ethan Orr. When Steller covered the Moderate/Not-A-Moderate debate before, he leaned toward thinking Orr was more moderate than not. This time, though, Steller isn't taking sides. He's letting Orr, his legislative record and Democratic candidate Randy Friese duke it out for themselves.
For me, the most interesting line in the whole column is this observation by Steller:
Speaking of one of his many votes, Orr seemed a bit tired of the “moderate” discussion.
Hmm. When does a politician grow tired of having himself discussed in print? Only when the evidence is turning against him. And it looks like Orr is wondering whether the discussion of his moderate cred is beginning to take a nasty turn.
Steller points out three pro-gun votes Orr made this session. The bills were apparently too out-there for Gov. Brewer, who vetoed all three of them. By going to the right of Brewer on guns, Orr certainly earned his 92% rating from the NRA, but he didn't do much to bolster his claim to being a moderate.
And on women's health issues, Orr has a solid right wing voting record.
On what is perhaps even a hotter-button issue [than guns], abortion, Orr voted in favor of the bill that allows for surprise inspections of clinics providing abortions. Orr, who opposes abortion in general, said it’s a fair law since other medical facilities are subject to surprise inspections, too.
In Steller's column, Orr claims bragging rights for helping to criminalize the pointing of lasers at airplanes, easing the liability rules on private space flight and revising the pension system of the Pima County Sheriff’s Department. And he was one of eight Republicans who voted against this year's most onerous voucher bill.
Weighing Orr's votes, it's hard to call him a moderate without dumbing down the term beyond recognition. Somehow, I don't think slogans like these are going to win Orr many votes from Democrats or swing voters:
Ethan Orr: Not Bat-Shit Crazy Like Those Other Republicans
Ethan Orr: Moderate (But Not As Moderate As Jan Brewer)
Orr has done enough to get the Republican and right-wing Independent vote in the November election. But to retain one of the district's two seats in the house, he has to beat one of the Democrats in the field: Rep. Victoria Steele or newcomer Randy Friese. To do that he's going to need help from some Democrats and middle-of-the-road Independents. The more his moderation is questioned, the harder that's going to be.