Sunday, November 14, 2010

On The Campaign Trail

Terry Goddard, Democratic candidate for Governor of Arizona, takes a call from a reporter in the kitchen of the Wyndham Hotel in downtown Phoenix on election night. 
I love election season. Some photographers love sports playoffs, others prefer to cover crime and hard news stories. For me it’s elections. This year, I “embedded” with Terry Goddard’s campaign for a story that ran in today’s Arizona Republic. Both his campaign and his family were incredibly gracious and gave me unfettered access. 
The premise was a look at the campaign from the inside. It’s something I’ve done in the past for the Republic - embedding with both sides with the understanding that I was there as a photographer to keep a visual record of the campaign and that I would not share confidences I heard from one campaign with the other. It’s always worked well for me. This year the Republic approached both Goddard’s campaign and the campaign of his Republican rival, Jan Brewer. 
Goddard instantly, and without hesitation, said yes. Brewer, instantly and without hesitation said absolutely not. 
Goddard was frustrated by Brewer’s refusal to debate him. She turned down almost all requests from organizations like the AARP for joint appearances. She wouldn’t campaign in the traditional sense and distanced herself from local media (although she made several appearances on national FOX News). It was as frustrating for me, as a journalist, to cover a campaign that seemed to be run by a mysterious man behind a curtain, as it was for Goddard to campaign against. But despite the campaign run by his rival, whether it was a good campaign or bad campaign or a non campaign, this simply wasn’t the year to be a Democrat, especially in Arizona. Goddard lost by about 13 points. Statewide, the Democrats were shellacked. They didn’t win any statewide offices and their presence in the state legislature will be greatly reduced. 
Arizona, once a reddish purple state (Democratic governor and attorney general, four of eight congressional seats held by Democrats, Republican controlled legislature, two GOP senators) is now a fiercely, raw meat, red state. All statewide elected officials are Republican, both senators and six of eight in congress Republican and overwhelming GOP control of the state legislature. 
There are more photos from the campaign in my archive. I have a multimedia piece on the campaign on Documentary Podcasts page.