How Progressive Arizona Became Tea Party Arizona

How Progressive Arizona Became Tea Party Arizona

Session Type(s): Panel

Starts: Friday, Jul. 17 12:00 PM (Eastern)

Ends: Friday, Jul. 17 1:15 PM (Eastern)

Arizona entered the Union in 1912 as a progressive state, enshrining in its Constitution citizen power over elected officials in at least three major ways: initiative, referendum and recall. All have been used repeatedly to enact public policy, recently, for example, in the historic recall of Russell Pearce. Unions have historically been robust in the state and still are today. Yet all statewide elected officials today are Republican, and the state legislature is overrun with Tea Party conservatives. How did this happen? And more importantly, what can be done to revitalize and re-empower progressives and progressive policy?


Joel Wright


Joel Wright is an independent pollster and an acknowledged expert on voter opinion in Arizona. For over 25 years, he has conducted polls and research on many public policy issues, including immigration, tribal gaming, education, health care, politics, campaigns and values, for diverse clients such as unions, native tribes, universities and think tanks, among others. He has worked in a variety of states and for First Nations in Canada. Joel earned Masters and Bachelors degrees from Arizona State University and lives in the Mogollon Rim area of Arizona with his wife, 3 cats and puppy, Zeus, who was given such a big name because he’s such a little guy.


Alfredo Gutierrez


Alfredo is a long-standing political force in Arizona; elected to the Arizona Senate in 1972 and its Majority Leader in 1973. He served as leader through the remainder of his tenure. He founded Jamieson & Gutierrez, the state’s leading public relations and policy firm. In 2001 he was an unsuccessful candidate for Governor. Subsequently he founded the Internet newspaper – La Frontera Times focused on immigration. Alfredo hosted Arizona’s most listened to talk radio program in English or Spanish: “Escucha y Ponte Trucha con Alfredo Gutierrez” heard daily.

Alfredo received the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Fellowship in its inaugural year. He was Arizona Chairman of the first Jimmy Carter Presidential Campaign, and recipient of a Fulbright teaching fellowship at Colegio de Mexico. Alfredo received a Doctoral Degree, Honoris Causa, from Arizona State University. He has completed his first book, “To Sin Against Hope”. Verso Books is the publisher.

Other sessions: The People vs. Arpaio, The Evolution of Immigrant Rights: From Political Empowerment to Progressive Change

Heidi Osselaer

Heidi Osselaer

Heidi J. Osselaer received her undergraduate degree in history at the University of California, Berkeley, and earned both a master’s degree and doctorate in U.S. history at Arizona State University. Her field is women in Arizona History. She has taught at ASU, Scottsdale Community College, and Phoenix College and has served on the board of the Arizona Women’s Heritage Trail, as well as the editorial board of the Journal of Arizona History. In 2009, the University of Arizona Press published her book, Winning Their Place: Arizona Women in Politics, 1883-1950, which won two awards from the Arizona Book Publishing Association and was a finalist for the Best Book award. Heidi is the recipient of the 2011 Sharlot Hall Award for her “valuable contributions to the understanding and awareness of Arizona and its history,” and many of her publications have received distinguished awards.

Dan Shilling

Dan Shilling

A native Pennsylvanian, Dan joined the Army out of high school and served in Germany and Vietnam. Taking advantage of the GI Bill, he graduated from Penn State and taught high school in his home state before moving to Arizona in 1980. Dan earned his PhD from Arizona State University, which recently awarded him the school’s highest alumnus honor. For nearly 20 years he directed the Arizona Humanities Council, an educational foundation that is the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Since retiring, he has taught sustainability at ASU, co-directed summer institutes on environmental issues for college faculty, written a book on place-based tourism, and co-edited an anthology on indigenous land ethics. Dan has served on nearly 50 boards and commissions. He lives in Phoenix.

Jon Talton


Jon Talton is a fourth-generation Arizonan who writes the commentary blog Rogue Columnist (, which focuses on Phoenix and Arizona issues. He is also Economics Columnist of the Seattle Times and author of 11 novels.

For 30 years Jon has covered business and finance, specializing in banking, urban economies, energy, real estate and economics and public policy. Jon has been a columnist for the Arizona Republic, Charlotte Observer and Rocky Mountain News, and his columns have appeared in newspapers throughout North America on the New York Times News Service and other news services.

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