Tags: hull | arizona | goldwater | governor | bush | mccain

Remembering Arizona's Former Governor Jane Dee Hull

jane hull in a blue shirt stands in front of a pink blue and yellow map showing two fires
Former Arizona Governor Jane Dee Hull (David McNew/Getty Images)

By Tuesday, 21 April 2020 06:13 AM Current | Bio | Archive

There was a particular sadness throughout Arizona following the news that Jane Dee Hull, the first woman to be elected governor of the Grand Canyon State, died last Thursday at age 84.

Hull died within hours of her husband, obstetrician Terry Hull. The former governor and Arizona’s former “First Gentleman,” were married 66 years. 

Just as sad was the news that, while flags throughout the state were lowered and a period of mourning declared, there could be no state funeral or services immediately due to the coronavirus lockdown.

In the 1950s and ‘60s, young Republicans in Arizona who became politically active were called “Barry’s Boys” and “Goldwater Girls.”

Their hero was the state’s junior senator, Barry Goldwater, whose passionate championship of small government at home and victory over Communism abroad electrified Americans thirsting for change from the liberal status quo.

University of Kansas graduate and elementary school teacher Jane Dee Hull heard a speech by Goldwater in 1964, the year he won the Republican nomination for president, and was “hooked.” She volunteered countless hours for her political idol and became a good-as-Goldwater conservative firebrand.

After fourteen years of canvassing and working mailings for other Republicans, Hull became a candidate herself in 1978 and was elected to the state House of Representatives. 

Like Goldwater himself, Hull was plain-spoken and at times a firebrand. The newspaper AzCentral recalled how she opposed replacing swamp coolers at the Perryville state prison. In her words, “Maybe the swamp coolers will break down. That might get rid of some of our prison population.”

As abortion became a major issue in the 1970s and ‘80s, State Rep. Hull was a no-holds-barred pro-lifer who opposed abortion under any circumstances.

But in rising to become majority leader and eventually her state’s first female House speaker in 1989, Hull began to believe that — while maintaining her conservative principles — she had to compromise and move to the middle on some issues in order to get things done.

While still maintaining a hard line on most big-spending issues, Hull did support more state funds for juvenile detention centers and for improving Arizona’s healthcare system. 

She would always be pro-life, but after learning of a colleague’s family situation involving abortion, Hull told reporters: “I don’t like abortion, but I don’t think I could favor a total ban.”

The onetime firebrand also grew calmer in her demeanor — just as the state’s politics were growing toxic and turbulent. Republican Gov. Evan Mecham was impeached and removed from office following a spirited trial by the legislature in 1988. A year later, Speaker Hull presided over a House rocked by the AzScam corruption scandal resulting in the resignation or removal of ten lawmakers.

Hull’s rise to the governorship was the result of her being in the right place at a critical time. Elected secretary of state in 1994, she became the second-highest official in a state with no lieutenant governor. When Republican Gov. Fife Symington was convicted of extortion and bank fraud — all involving matters in his business career before becoming governor — in 1997 and forced to step down, Hull assumed the governorship. 

Although Democrat Rose Mofford had become Arizona’s first woman governor upon succeeding to the office in 1988, Republican Hull became the first woman elected governor of the state when she won a full term in 1998.

Much like Britain’s Margaret Thatcher, Hull made it clear she was interested in policy rather than being hailed as a “trailblazer” for women in politics. Under her leadership, Arizona developed a program known as KidsCare that provided health insurance to more than 115,400 children.

Her cool and calm demeanor helped guide Arizona through 9/11 and the Rodeo-Chediski Fire of 2002, which burned more than half a million acres across the state.

Hull, who retired from politics after leaving the governorship in ’02, was also a politician who knew how to settle scores. Having felt Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., was not conservative enough for her, the governor in 2000 backed George W. Bush for president over her fellow Arizonan.   

Recalling Hull to Newsmax, former Sen. Jon Kyl, R.-Ariz., told us “Jane Hull was an excellent example of citizen service. She spent almost two decades in state government serving the people of Arizona effectively, honestly, and fairly. And while she was a strong Republican, she worked well with Democrats for the greater good of our state.” 

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

© 2020 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

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There was particular sadness throughout Arizona following the news that Jane Hull, the first woman to be elected governor of the Grand Canyon State, died last Thursday at age 84. Hull died within hours of her husband, obstetrician Terry Hull. The former governor and...
hull, arizona, goldwater, governor, bush, mccain
Tuesday, 21 April 2020 06:13 AM
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