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.