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Guest opinion

Adios, Joe: The electoral history of Joe Sweeney

The man who brought a whole new dimension to the phrase "perennial candidate," Joe Sweeney, passed away this weekend. I'm not going to pretend for even a minute that he was some political colossus that strode across Southern Arizona or even that he had something valid to contribute to our civic dialogue: the man was an unapologetic bigot.

He did, however, appear as a losing candidate on ballots here in Southern Arizona thirteen times (fourteen if you count a run for state legislature back in the '70s). This is a record of futility that is likely unmatched in electoral records anywhere in the country.

For your perusal, I've compiled the results for his congressional races. He first ran against Mo Udall in 1984. That year, his signs (wheat pasted on every available flat surface in the greater Tucson area, which became his M.O.) touted his support for expansion of VISTA and the Peace Corps.

It was in the following years that he became more stridently anti-immigrant, and his slogans became more unhinged and nonsensical ("Give a Damn! Federal Interstate Byways Now!"). Despite his being clearly unqualified for office, he managed to carry counties against both Jim Kolbe and Raúl Grijalva.

One gap you'll see in his ballot presence was in 1992. He was all set to run against Democrat Jim Toeves in the primary that year, but Toeves challenged Sweeney's petitions and got him thrown off the ballot (why this was only tried once I'll never know).

Sweeney was left to file as a candidate in the New Alliance Party. He changed his registration too late to vote in their primary, but was able to run as a write-in none the less. Because the party was so small, he needed only a single write-in vote to be their nominee. Sweeney failed, however, to convince even one New Alliance voter to write his name in.

1984

District 2 Democratic Primary

  • Morris K. Udall – 30587 (85.7%)
  • Joseph Sweeney – 5109 (14.3%)

1986

District 2 Republican Primary

  • Sheldon Clark – 7599 (57.0%)
  • Joseph Sweeney – 5733 (43.0%)

1988

District 2 General Election

  • Morris K. Udall (DEM) – 99895 (73.3%)
  • Joseph Sweeney (REP) – 36309 (26.7%)

1990

District 2 Republican Primary

  •  Joseph Sweeney – 12981 (63.4%)
  • Al Rodriguez – 7481 (36.6%)

District 2 General Election

  • Morris K. Udall (DEM) – 76549 (65.9%)
  • Joseph Sweeney (REP) – 39586 (34.1%)
  • Kathleen Henry (Write-In) – 44 (0.0%)

1991

District 2 Special Election Democratic Primary

  • Ed Pastor – 12374 (37.4%)
  • Tom Volgy – 10575 (31.9%)
  • Virginia Yrun – 8874 (26.8%)
  • Joseph Sweeney – 787 (2.4%)
  • Craig Runyon – 503 (1.5%)

1992

District 5 New Alliance Primary

Joseph Sweeney – 0

1994

District 5 Republican Primary

  • Jim Kolbe – 42239 (80.3%)
  • Joseph Sweeney – 10350 (19.7%)

1996

District 5 Republican Primary

  • Jim Kolbe – 34190 (69.9%)
  • Joseph Sweeney – 14704 (30.1%)

1998

District 5 Republican Primary

  • Jim Kolbe – 32213 (76.6%)
  • Joseph Sweeney – 9818 (23.4%)

2000

Distict 5 Republican Primary

  • Jim Kolbe – 35263 (78.8%)
  • Joseph Sweeney – 9477 (21.2%)

2002

District 7 Republican Primary

  • Ross Heib – 6426 (39.8%)
  • Joseph Sweeney – 4781 (29.6%)
  • Al Piña – 2732 (16.9%)
  • Lori Lustig – 2207 (13.7%)

2004

District 7 Republican Pimary

  • Joseph Sweeney – 11990 (70.1%)
  • Lou Muñoz – 5107 (29.9%)

District 7 General Election

  • Raúl Grijalva (DEM) – 108868 (62.1%)
  • Joseph Sweeney (REP) – 59066 (33.7%)
  • Dave Kaplan (LBT) – 7503 (4.3%)

2006

District 7 Republican Primary

  • Ron Drake – 10022 (60.4%)
  • Joseph Sweeney – 6565 (39.6%)

2008

District 7 Republican Primary

  • Joseph Sweeney – 11011 (66.8%)
  • Gene Chewning – 5464 (33.2%)

District 7 General Election

  • Raúl Grijalva (DEM) – 124304 (63.3%)
  • Joseph Sweeney (REP) – 64425 (32.8%)
  • Raymond P. Petrulsky (LBT) – 7755 (3.9%)
  • Harley Meyer (Write-In) – 5 (0.0%)

2010

District 7 Republican Primary

  • Ruth McClung – 15455 (51.0%)
  • Terry Myers – 7044 (23.2%)
  • Joseph Sweeney – 3702 (12.2%)
  • Robert Wilson – 2737 (9.0%)
  • Christopher Flowers – 1394 (4.6%)

Originally posted at rumromanismrebellion.net


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Latest comments on this storyRead all 5 »

5
1 comments
Apr 10, 2011, 9:18 am
-0 +0

I used to know Joe Sweeney 20+ years ago.  He was mentally ill then.  He also hung out with a bad group.  He had a bad seizure 30-40 years ago.  His life is very sad.  I will pray he will rest in peace.  Is there any photo of him that does not make him look deranged? 

Whenever I saw his election pictures around Tucson, I would kick them over.  He was a mellow Jared Lockner a generation older.  He tried my patience back in the day, now I don’t have to be patient any longer.  That in mind, I will pray for his soul.  Fortunately, he never did any real harm to Tucson.

4
270 comments
Apr 9, 2011, 8:11 pm
-0 +0

Fair enough. Don’t tell mine, but I forgot about mothers. ;-)

3
533 comments
Apr 9, 2011, 8:07 pm
-0 +0

Most write-in candidates get at least one vote, even if their mothers won’t cast a ballot for them. If you’re running for a minor party’s nod, there’s usually somebody willing to pull the lever - unless you can’t even vote in that election yourself…. ; )

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Youtube Video

On the Web

  • Above, that's Sweeney sharing his thoughts on homosexuality and immigration at a 2008 Tucson Citizen (RIP, too) editorial board meeting.
  • Elsewhere, Jim Nintzel of the Tucson Weekly has some thoughts on Sweeney.

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