320 pages, 6 x 9
Release Date:01 Nov 2015
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Senator Dennis DeConcini

From the Center of the Aisle

The University of Arizona Press
Dennis DeConcini, a contemporary of Arizona greats like Sandra Day O’Connor, Barry Goldwater, and Rose Mofford, is an Arizona icon in his own right. Starting his public career as the Pima County Attorney, DeConcini orchestrated an unprecedented rise to a seat in the U.S. Senate, which he held for eighteen years. His political memoir, co-authored with historian Jack L. August Jr., reaches beyond typical reflections to provide the reader with penetrating and revealing insights into the inner workings and colorful characters of Arizona politics and the United States Senate.

A vigilant centrist, who got results by building coalitions on both sides of the aisle, Senator DeConcini’s approach was not bound to strict party alliances but was deeply rooted in the independent political environment of Arizona. During his career, he sponsored legislation limiting the sale of assault weapons, which provoked the National Rifle Association. He confounded Democratic Party regulars by supporting Clarence Thomas during the controversial confirmation hearings and again split with his party in his support for William Rehnquist’s nomination to Chief Justice. In 1980 he voted for Ronald Reagan, but in 1993 he cast the swing vote for President Bill Clinton’s tax bill, which was strongly opposed by Republicans in Arizona.

This political memoir will be of interest to anyone concerned with the inner workings of the U.S. Senate or Arizona politics and offers relevant insights into today’s political climate.
This book is a fascinating account of the life and time of one of Arizona's most distinguished leaders." —Governor Janet Napolitano

"I think this book should be read by Republicans and Democrats alike, especially those interested in the history of Arizona and the nation during the last 30 years of the 20th century." —Marshall Trimble, Arizona historian and author

"Senator DeConcini was one of the few Democrats who would reach across the aisle and work with us." —Senator Orrin G. Hatch
Dennis Webster DeConcini, born in Tucson, Arizona, May 8, 1937, served as a U.S. senator from the state of Arizona for three successive terms, 1977 to 1995. During his tenure, he served on the Senate Appropriations Committee (where he chaired the Subcommittee on Treasury, Postal Service, and General Government); the Subcommittee on Defense, Energy, and Water Development; the Subcommittee on Foreign Operations; the Senate Judiciary Committee; the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Monopolies, and Business Rights; the Subcommittee on the Constitution and the Courts; and the Select Intelligence Committee (for which he was the chair in 1993 and 1994). Senator DeConcini also chaired the Subcommittee on Patents, Copyrights, and Trademarks and the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (Helsinki Commission). In February 1995, President Bill Clinton appointed Senator DeConcini to the board of directors of the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation. In that year, Senator DeConcini joined the Washington, D.C., lobby firm of Parry, Romani, DeConcini, and Symms. Prior to his election to the Senate, he served one elected term as Pima County attorney (1972–76), where he acted as the chief prosecutor and civil attorney for the county and for the school districts within the county. He was also the legal counsel and administrative assistant to the governor of Arizona and founded the law firm of DeConcini, McDonald, Yetwin, and Lacy (where he is presently a partner with offices in Tucson, Phoenix, and the District of Columbia). He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Arizona in 1959 and his law degree from the University of Arizona in 1963.

Dr. Jack L. August Jr. serves as executive director of the Arizona Historical Foundation at Arizona State University, where he teaches graduate courses in water policy and management. He has taught at the University of Houston, the University of Northern British Columbia, Prescott College, and Northern Arizona University, where his courses focused on the history of the American West and environmental history. He is a former Fulbright scholar, National Endowment for the Humanities Research Fellow, and Pulitzer Prize nominee in the history category for his volume Vision in the Desert: Carl Hayden and Hydropolitics in the American Southwest. He served as historian and expert witness in the Natural Resources Section of the Arizona Attorney General’s office, where his work focused on Indian versus non-Indian water-rights issues and state trust lands. He has also worked in that capacity for Arizona State University, the city of Tempe, the city of Buckeye, the city of Tucson, and private law firms representing clients with land and water-rights claims. He has appeared on numerous television and radio programs, including Horizon, Arizona Illustrated, the KAET/PBS documentary Arizona Memories from the 1960s, and National Public Radio features. He is a frequent contributor to magazines and historical journals, including Arizona Highways, Journal of Arizona History, Pacific Historical Review, Western Historical Quarterly, and many others. He is working on the definitive biography of Mark Wilmer, who argued and won the legendary U.S. Supreme Court case Arizona v. California (1963). He received his bachelor’s degree from Yale University in 1975, his master’s degree from the University of Arizona in 1979, and his PhD from the University of New Mexico in 1985.
Foreword, Governor Rose Mofford

1 First Days
2 And We Danced for Fifty Years
3 Gaining Political Literacy
4 Road to the Senate
5 The Panama Canal Dilemma
6 A Day in the Life
7 Judicial Politics
8 Keating Five
9 A New Federalism for American Indians
10 Transitions
11 Memories and Reflections
12 Conclusion

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