When I lived in D.C., I knew Jim and socialized with him on occasion. I once even wrote a speech for him on free trade. Jim is a good man and a loyal Republican. He did a great job representing the citizens of Arizona’s Eighth District for over twenty years. Since his first election in 1984, he has won all but once of his races with at least 60% of the vote.
Even after coming out as a gay man, he continued to champion issues the same issues that he had championed before he came out — particularly free trade. If he wanted to be remembered as anything, it would be as the man who broke down trade barriers between nations. I remember how his eyes would light up as he talked about a hemisphere-wide free trade zone. As he retires, while he has not yet seen that goal realized, he should be proud that he helped secure the passage this year of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), one of the most significant accomplishments of this Congress.
His departure will be a great loss to the Republican caucus and to the House. Even with his success and prominence, Jim remained a down-to-earth guy. Decent and hard-working, Jim is as eager to promote Republican principles as he is to describe the beauty of the Arizona desert near his Tucson home.
While Jim would surely rather be remembered for championing free trade than for being an openly gay Republican, he provides a good example for all gay Republicans. When he came out, he continued to promote Republican principles of small government and open markets. By and large, his sexuality remained incidental to his service.
I’m sure that, in his retirement, Jim will continue to remain active, speaking out on free trade and exploring the Arizona desert. While his retirement represents a loss to the public policy process, his service remains an inspiration to us all. We wish him well in all his future endeavors.
-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest): GayPatriotWest@aol.com