(Weekly Column)

CandidatesWhen openly gay Republican Steve May was elected to Arizona’s state House in 1998, he surely lost the votes of some social conservatives who thought he led a sinful lifestyle. It turns out that these detractors were correct, although it had nothing to do with the politician’s sexual orientation.

A New York Times story revealed that May has become a soulless dirty trickster for the Arizona GOP, who is recruiting drifters to run as Green Party candidates in a sleazy effort to siphon away Democratic votes.

One man that May recruited for statewide office is twenty-year-old Benjamin Pearcy. The “candidate” has a faux Mohawk, his campaign headquarters is a Starbucks, and his career is strumming a guitar on the street. He describes himself as the illegitimate son of a stripper.

“I’ve been homeless,” he told the Times, which said that during the interview his eyes darted back and forth.

Another May candidate, Thomas Meadows, 27, is a broke tarot card reader running for state treasurer who wears a court jester’s hat.

The Green Party has urged its supporters to avoid voting for the sham candidates. The Democratic Party has filed a formal complaint with local, state, and federal prosecutors.

“These are people who are not serious and who were recruited as part of a cynical manipulation of the process,” said Paul Eckstein, a lawyer representing the Democrats. “They don’t know Green from red.”

Sadly, at one point May was a legitimate hero, serving in the Arizona legislature and fighting the military’s Don’t Ask/Don’t tell policy.

In February 1999, following a legislative debate on domestic partnership legislation, May objected to another legislator’s anti-gay remarks. In April 1999, the U.S. Army Reserve called May to active reserve duty during the Kosovo crisis. Shortly after he returned to civilian life, an investigation was launched resulting from May’s comments made during the verbal confrontation with the state lawmaker. A military panel recommended that he be discharged – although he fought the panel’s recommendation and eventually won.

It is incredibly disappointing that May would lower himself to perform such degrading acts that mock the homeless and undermine democracy. This man of valor has now become a vulture and has transformed from role model to rogue model. Did May really serve his country only to return home and sabotage elections?

May once chided the U.S. government for forcing him to lie in order to serve his country. Ironically, he now claims, with a straight face, that his candidates aren’t imposters.

“Did I recruit candidates? Yes,” said May, who is himself a Republican candidate for the State Legislature. “Are they fake candidates? No way.”

If one is to believe May’s fantastical story, the preppy conservative just happened to have been strolling in Tempe’s Mill Avenue bohemian district and had the good fortune of meeting Roxie, a one-armed pregnant woman who introduced him to a slew of politically ambitious drifters.

Yeah, right.

In last week’s column, I wrote that Republicans “trick the American people into voting against their own interests.” May’s tawdry campaign to recruit street people vividly proves my point.

One of May’s candidates, a pedicab driver nicknamed Grandpa, is running on a platform of opposition to higher taxes and putting God in the classroom. The aforementioned Benjamin Pearcy has bought into the GOP’s cheerleading about an opportunity society, even as his fake candidacy will help elect officials who will reduce future opportunities for the poor.

“Anyone can do it. We’re all good enough,” says Pearcy, apparently unaware of the policies pushed by May and the Republican Party.

I never thought I’d agree with the Religious Right, but Steve May needs to change his wicked lifestyle. His exploitation of these “candidates” and the American political system is truly perverse.