After being defeated in the Republican primary for a State House seat in 2014, former Scottsdale City Councilman Bob Littlefield decided to run for Scottsdale Mayor in 2016. He lost to Mayor Jim Lane in a landslide. Yet, only two years later, Bob’s wife Kathy didn’t just win re-election to the City Council but was the race’s top vote-getter.
There are many reasons for this, and we have written about them before. But there is one that still stands out.
After rumblings from many in 2016 about the potential conflicts of interests, open meetings law violations and other problems that could come with a husband and wife serving on a governing body at the same time – we can find no other example in recent Arizona history – Lane asked voters what they thought of the notion in a poll. The response was devastating. Scottsdale voters overwhelmingly disapproved of the notion. Lane went on to actually put up campaign road signs entitled “Two Littlefields Are Too Much” throughout the city and otherwise lambaste the notion in campaign mailers. It worked.
Bob Littlefield seems to have forgotten this lesson of local history. He is not an unwise person, but we are confused by the short memory.
Perhaps he is banking on the Southbridge II referendum to do for him what Proposition 420 did for his wife in 2018. But there are major differences. Southbridge II is far more popular than the Dubious Discovery Center ever was. And the likelihood it actually ends up on the ballot is very low for a variety of reasons.
Another rationale for a Bob Littlefield candidacy may be his perception that Scottsdale is going to hell in a hand basket. But voters don’t feel that way. Those who feel Scottsdale is headed in the “Right Direction” is nearly identical to 2016.
As we mentioned in previous posts, we got our hands on a recent, sophisticated poll in the city. Some of those results have already been shared. The two Littlefields question was included. The results are devastating, anew. And we don’t mean to be giving marriage advice, but we don’t know why Bob would again be doing this to his wife who is shining in many ways on the City Council.
Here was the statement queried of 300 likely Scottsdale voters earlier this month. Respondents were asked if they Strongly Agree, Somewhat Agree, Somewhat Disagree or Strongly Disagree with it.
“Kathy Littlefield currently serves as Scottsdale’s Vice Mayor. Having her husband Bob Littlefield serve as Mayor at the same time would be unprecedented in Scottsdale history and unwise because of the legal issues and conflict of interest violations that could occur.”
A whopping 71% of voters agreed with the statement while only 22% disagreed. Notably, a stunning 51% strongly agreed with it while only 9% strongly disagreed. Pollster parlance will share that any ratio of 3:1 for such tested statements is one that not only works, but bites. A ratio of 5.5:1? Off the charts. The results are nearly identical to those in 2016 that we were also able to see.
But let’s dig a little deeper into the more recent findings. In Scottsdale’s “Far North,” the best of the four regions of the city for Bob Littlefield, voters there agreed with the statement by a 63%-22% margin. Those who feel Scottsdale is on the “wrong track” rather than headed in the “right direction,” a relatively small number and another base of Bob Littlefield’s vote, also supported the statement by wide margins: 63%-32%. Among undecided voters in the upcoming mayor’s race – the overwhelming majority of voters – Bob Littlefield is more than challenged on this issue. They agreed by a 74%-18% margin. But the final crosstab is really eye-popping. Among those who actually support Littlefield in the upcoming race for Mayor, if he runs, half of those agree (47%-47%) agree that two Littlefields are too much! There is no other word but “wow” at that finding.
Even in disagreement, most can and should observe that Kathy Littlefield is doing a commendable job on the City Council. How and why Bob thinks he is going to defy what happened to him in 2016 four years later is anyone’s guess and likely the subject of spirited household discussions.
There have been several movies of late about U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. A subtext of one of them was the enduring love and pride her husband had for her as she fought important fights and eventually elevated to the highest court in the land. It was touching. He viewed her success as enriching both of their lives. We hope Bob Littlefield will take a moment to watch the movie. It would be instructive and inspirational, and avoid us saying in November that past was indeed prologue.