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Jane Dee Hull on Mecham impeachment and her other adventures in Arizona politics

Posted by   /  January 12, 2020  /  No Comments

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Jane Dee Hull in 1999

By Arizona Capitol Reports Staff 

For almost 25 years Jane Dee Hull was in the thick of Arizona politics, governing and legislating, and yet she said she’s most proud of being proud of “very little” in her career, which speaks to her political philosophy. Hull became the first and only woman so far to be speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives when her colleagues elected her in 1989, and she held onto the post until 1992.

Her election to secretary of State in 1994 set her up for her next political gig: governor. She filled out Gov. Fife Symington’s term and in 1998 she became the first woman to be elected to the office. Hull gave a one-hour and 37-minute interview on December 13, 2007, with the Arizona Memory Project, supported by the Arizona State Library, which has a collection of oral histories of former legislators. Below, are just a few topics from her expansive interview.

On Evan Mecham

I was the majority whip. I think I was one of the first women in the House to be majority whip. To the surprise of everybody, Evan Mecham beat Burt Barr in the primary and was elected because of a three-way race. Hard feelings with some people [untelligible] about his election because he had a track record of not being real easy to work with, and so it was difficult. It was difficult for me as a woman because he basically held to the Mormon belief that women should be at home, and it was certainly difficult for the women Mormon legislators who supported him to the very end, but he really didn’t think women should be at leadership meetings, he really didn’t think women should be there, so I was always looked at askance when we went up to meet with him.

The impeachment just happened. It was one of those things: Don’t hire a lawyer and threaten something unless you know you can finish it. What he was impeached for I don’t think there was any doubt that he did. The question was some of the things probably were not worth an impeachment. In hindsight, as I’ve gone along I probably regretted that we took that step, but again, you start in, you can’t just investigate and say we’re going to stop. And the more it turned up, the more it made you go forth. I was the majority whip. I think I was one of the first women in the House to be majority whip. To the surprise of everybody, Evan Mecham beat Burt Barr in the primary and was elected because of a three-way race.

Former Arizona Governor Jane Dee Hull at the AZBio Awards ceremony on October 2, 2019.
/Photo by Gage Skidmore/Flickr

Hard feelings with some people [untelligible] about his election because he had a track record of not being real easy to work with, and so it was difficult. It was difficult for me as a woman because he basically held to the Mormon belief that women should be at home, and it was certainly difficult for the women Mormon legislators who supported him to the very end, but he really didn’t think women should be at leadership meetings, he really didn’t think women should be there, so I was always looked at askance when we went up to meet with him.

I was the one who had to go up and tell Rose Mofford that she was going to become governor because, as I recall, he had to move out as the House voted, not with the Senate vote. To this day, when we’re on the same platform, which we have been occasionally, somebody will ask her what was the worst day of her life and she’ll say, “The day someone came up to tell me that I was going to become governor,” and mind you I was that somebody.

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