Drew Zahn is a WND news editor who cut his journalist teeth as a member of the award-winning staff of Leadership, Christianity Today's professional journal for church leaders. A former pastor, he is the editor of seven books, including Movie-Based Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching, which sparked his ongoing love affair with film and his weekly WND column, "Popcorn and a (world)view."More ↓Less ↑
Like Sarah Palin, former Arizona State Sen. Pamela Gorman is a Christ-professing, gun-toting firebrand who took on the Republican Party establishment in her state and who is now under fire – both by her party’s leadership and by a mocking media.
Gorman is also facing an uphill battle in a crowded field of 10 GOP candidates seeking election to Arizona’s third congressional district, a seat held by eight-term Republican John Shadegg. Included among her opponents is Ben Quayle, son of former Vice President Dan Quayle.
A tea-party favorite, Gorman’s resumé reads like a conservative wish list: endorsed by Arizona Right to Life, Arizona Tea Party and Concerned Women for America; boasting a 100-percent rating from the National Rifle Association and a 100-percent pro-life rating from Arizona Right to Life PAC; pledging herself to efforts to repeal government-run health care and pledging to assert Israel’s “historic right” to live in its land; praised by the presidents of Americans for Tax Reform and National Taxpayers Union; on record as a sponsor of Arizona’s controversial S.B. 1070, which requires state police to assist federal officials in illegal-immigration enforcement; even garnering an endorsement by WND columnist Pat Boone:
“I’m a direct descendant of Daniel Boone, so you could say I know a ‘straight shooter’ when I see one,” Boone is quoted as saying on Gorman’s campaign website. “I proudly endorse Pamela Gorman for Congress.”
But it’s Gorman’s “straight shooting” that has drawn criticism not just from local media, but also from national commentators at the Huffington Post, Politico and even Comedy Central.
The huff and fury is based on a commercial some of Gorman’s volunteers shot for her campaign, one that features the candidate firing a machine gun and pledging to “shoot” down new taxes.
Gorman claims the YouTube commercial, meant partially in fun, has nonetheless drawn unhinged fury from the left.
Case in point, Andrew Sullivan, who blogs on the website for The Atlantic, mocked Gorman for fitting too closely to the Sarah Palin mold:
“If the pretty, big-boobed, gun-toting hottie paradigm was enough to get an unbalanced know-nothing this close to the presidency,” Sullivan writes, “then you can rest assured others took notice.”
Referencing a famous fake photo of Palin in a swimsuit brandishing a rifle, Stephen Lemons of Phoenix’s New Times writes, “The only thing that stands between State Senator Pamela Gorman and Sarah Palin is a bikini and someone with a little spare time and Photoshop.”
The advertisement that has elicited such a reaction can be seen below:
Gorman has stated she’s surprised by the level of media criticism, derision and even profane e-mails she’s received over the ad:
“Who would have known that this little volunteer project would have been what triggered the left to take notice and really hate me with such vigor?” she asks on her campaign website.
The criticism, however, hasn’t stopped her from perpetuating the advertisement’s “pun-ny” rhetoric.
“I shoot guns as a fun sport,” she states. “But I destroy bad policy ideas as a mission.”
Under fire from her own party
Gorman’s path to Washington, however, may be thwarted before it can truly begin, at least in part because of her refusal to play politics.
Last year, Gorman stood toe-to-toe with Republican Party leadership and the state’s GOP governor, Jan Brewer, over a proposed tax increase the governor was scrambling to push through the Arizona Congress. As the Senate majority whip, Gorman was expected to get other senators in line with the governor’s plan, but she refused.
Instead, Gorman resigned as whip rather than violate her principles.
“I actually do what I say I’m going to do when I run for office,” Gorman told WND. “I really believe that when you raise taxes, it slows the economy, hurts families and kills jobs. If all that’s something you really believe, how can you pass an enormous tax increase, particularly during a recession?”
She says her answer to the GOP was straightforward: “If you want someone to break their pledge to voters and lead taxpayers over a cliff, I’m not the gal to take you there.”
Now, however, after resigning as state senator to run for U.S. Congress, Gorman says she is facing the full retaliatory force of the Republican machine.
Gorman told WND the GOP establishment has “made it known” on the streets in Arizona that if a contributor’s name appears on her donor rolls, their name “is mud.”
“Voters don’t know how much of that ugly, machine politics is just Hollywood and how much is real,” she said. “I can tell you, when you bite the hand that feeds you, it comes back, hard.”
Financial records show that she is indeed lagging behind in the 10-dog race for the Republican nomination. The Arizona Republic reports that she’s facing a big financial gap, with Quayle leading the field in fundraising with nearly $700,000 in campaign cash, while Gorman has raised only $28,000.
Gorman, who says she’s exactly the kind of “mama grizzly” Palin has talked about in campaign speeches, has also reached out to her fellow firebrand:
“My battles against Republican tax increases and Republican bad policy proposals have put me in a place of dubious honor,” Gorman writes in an appeal to Palin obtained by WND. “I am exactly what the people want, but exactly what the GOP establishment fears.
“I am fully aware that only a miracle can overcome the ‘machine’ that is determined to elect one of their own in my race,” she continues. “I beat the big boys at their own game many times, and they are none too happy about it.”
Fighting against the establishment, however, seems to be exactly what Gorman believes the tea party is all about.
“I don’t want to be the puppet of a [political] machine. It’s not what I want, not what the tea party wants,” she told WND. “There’s a lot of Republican policies that have brought us here too, and if we don’t pull back quickly toward our Founding Fathers’ vision for this country, we’re going to be led to the brink of socialism and then over the edge.
“I want to go to Congress and steer us back from the brink,” she said.