During her tenure in the Arizona Legislature, Barbara was named "Legislator of the Year" by numerous groups:

Arizona Society of Certified Public Accountants

Arizona Technology Council

American Cancer Society

Arizona Multihousing Association

Arizona Retailers Association

Arizona Association of Chiropractic

National Republican Legislator Association

Arizona Association of Industries

Arizona Association of Realtors


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From the Arizona Republic, Aug. 11, 2010
By Robert Robb

Coal has become a big issue in the Democratic primary for a statewide office.

Must be the Corporation Commission, you say? That would be logical. But wrong.

Instead, coal has become a big issue in the Democratic primary for secretary of state.

Sam Wercinski says he's Mr. Solar and Renewables, while claiming his opponent, Chris Deschene, has pushed for coal on the Navajo Reservation.

I have no idea whether that assertion about Deschene is true. But I do know this: It's thoroughly irrelevant to the duties of the secretary of state, unless Wercinski is proposing solar-powered voting machines.

The actual duties of the secretary of state are relatively limited. The office oversees elections. It accepts filings of various sorts. It has minor preliminary investigatory responsibilities for some campaign-law violations. That's it.

To his credit, Wercinski has thought about the office and has some proposals to fix some things he thinks are wrong with its operations, particularly in the area of elections.

But it is also obvious that he thinks he is too big for the actual job. So, he wants to expand it. His principal sales pitch is that he's the guy to "fix broken state government." He wants to help "develop quality jobs and sustainable industries." And, apparently, he wants the secretary of state to have its own energy policy, as well.

This is not an uncommon phenomenon for statewide offices below that of governor: politicians running for them when they would really like to be doing something else.

George Will once told me that he had decided that AG, the acronym for attorney general, actually stood for "aspiring governor." And there have been plenty of candidates for attorney general in Arizona who would actually prefer to be governor.

Attorney general, however, is at least an interesting enough job that candidates run for it on the basis of how they would actually do that job, as the state Constitution and statutes define it.

That's not true of secretary of state and treasurer. Candidates for them chronically run on things that lie entirely outside the true scope of their duties. This year, the treasurer's race offers the clearest illustration.

The Treasurer's Office is very important, but also, done right, very dull. Approximately $30 billion flows through it annually, and it oversees an investment portfolio of around $10 billion. The job of the treasurer is not to lose track of any of the money and safely place the investment funds.

The Democratic candidate for treasurer, Andrei Cherny, has the most expansive view of the office. He describes the treasurer as the state's "chief economic officer" and has elaborate economic-development plans. In reality, the treasurer, far from being the state's exciting "chief economic officer," is just its bland banker.

The Republican with the most money in the race, Doug Ducey, is running ads saying that he should be elected because, as a businessman, he knows how to bring jobs to the state.

One of his opponents, Thayer Verschoor, has Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Sen. Russell Pearce saying he should be treasurer because he is tough as nails on illegal immigration.

I've remarked before on the incongruity of Arpaio endorsing a candidate for treasurer. Regardless of what you think about his crime and illegal-immigration policies, Arpaio's been a wreck as a financial manager.

Of the treasurer candidates, only Barbara Leff seems to be running for the job as it is. The banner on her website says, "Ensuring financial stability for the state by careful management of monies invested with the treasurer." Not much of a bumper sticker, but a true description of the job.

Deschene likewise seems to be running for the secretary-of-state job for what it is. His website even describes its functions as "limited."

In reality, the state's been lucky turning these offices over to politicians not to have had major scandals. Running elections and managing money are tasks for which professional competence, not political judgment, is paramount. Ideally, they would be appointed, not elected, posts.

Of course, voters are highly unlikely to ever relinquish direct control over these positions. If so, it would be nice if they at least make sure that the people they choose really want the job.