Kolbe Ends Support For Bee

Jim Burroway

July 5th, 2008

Kolbe and BeeLast week, after Arizona Senate President Tim Bee (right) buckled under the threats and pressure from Cathi Herrod’s Center for Arizona Policy and cast the cowardly deciding vote to place the anti-marriage amendment on the ballot, we asked where former Rep. Jim Kolbe stood in all this. Kolbe (left) was Tim Bee’s honorary chairman for Bee’s campaign for Congress in Arizona’s eighth district, which was the the seat that Kolbe once held as an out gay Congressman for ten years.

Today, we may have something of an answer:

“I will not be actively campaigning for Bee,” the former Republican congressman said during a telephone interview with the Herald/Review on Thursday.

… Tom Dunn, a spokesman for the Bee campaign, also confirmed Kolbe’s decision. “For personal reasons, Mr. Kolbe is no longer associated with our campaign,” Dunn said. Neither Kolbe nor Dunn provided specific reasons for the former congressman dropping out of campaigning for Bee.

I don’t understand why Kolbe needs to be so coy about this, but I’m glad that he’s distancing himself from Bee nevertheless.

In 2006, the eighth Congressional district defeated Prop 107, that year’s proposed anti-marriage amendment, by more than ten percentage points: 45.4% to 54.6%. That was a significantly wider margin than the statewide tally of 48.2% to 51.8%.

Update: While Kolbe is silent on why he broke with Bee, Daniel Scarpinato is setting the obvious conclusions to print in this morning’s Arizona Daily Star (registration required):

According to Dunn, the switch came within the last week. Also in the last week: Bee, president of the state Senate, was the decisive vote on sending a measure to the ballot asking voters to define marriage in the Arizona Constitution as solely between one man and one woman.

And Kolbe, the only openly gay Republican in Congress before his retirement in 2006, had expressed disagreement with Bee on the issue shortly after it was announced in January that Kolbe would be the honorary chairman for Bee’s campaign. For his part, Bee dodged questions about the measure all year — and avoided bringing it up for a vote until the final hours of a 166-day legislative session. Up to that point, Kolbe had been active in the campaign throughout the spring and summer, hosting a fundraiser for Bee in Washington just last month.

… The support of Kolbe — a highly popular moderate during his 22-year tenure representing Southern Arizona — was a major highlight of Bee’s long-awaited campaign kickoff in January. Kolbe had refused to endorse the GOP nominee for his seat in 2006, Randy Graf. And we all remember how that ended.

For those outside of Arizona who don’t know, Graf lost badly what had been a reasonably reliable Republican seat to Democrat Gabrielle Giffords.

Meanwhile, Bee and Cochise County Republicans are trying to pretend that all is well.

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