Is Broadcasting a Springboard for Elected Officials?

HMA Public Relations is an apolitical firm.  We’ve never worked on candidates’ campaigns and have no plans to do so.  While we’ve had success at it, we’ve only worked on a few ballot initiatives at an arm’s distance on behalf of clients.  One of the keys to our success in that area has been our long-term media contacts and ability to tell our clients’ stories to the appropriate audience.

Another key has been providing training to our spokespeople to ensure they understand the significance of media interviews, teaching them how to conduct themselves during those interviews and other important strategies and tactics related to working with the media.

There is one particular group that, in general, that may not need much media training.  While it doesn’t seem to happen very often, we have seen it a few times in Arizona where a former member of the media runs for – and is elected – to public office.

Jack Williams Serves as Mayor and Governor

Jack Williams served two terms as mayor of Phoenix and when I was growing up in the ‘70s, three terms as governor of Arizona.  He had been a popular radio personality throughout the state prior to getting into politics.  After a constitutional amendment was approved by Arizona voters in 1968, Williams became the first governor of Arizona to serve a four-year term.

Ed Phillips Becomes a State Senator

The second instance of this media-turned-politician that I recall occurred when a hugely popular weatherman ran for the state senate.  TV meteorologist Ed Phillips, who worked at channels 12, 10 and 15, as well as providing weathercasts for a variety of radio stations for some three decades, was elected to the Arizona State Senate in 1990, where he spent four years before rejoining the media. He has started many successful businesses and written more than 20 books with over 1 million copies in print.  Today Ed is a senior business consultant and enjoys helping entrepreneurs and business owners forge their way to success.

J.D. Hayworth Elected to U.S. Congress

I first met J.D. Hayworth when he was working as a sportscaster at what is now FOX 10 and I was doing the same at what is now CBS 5.  After initially leaving TV, he served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2007.  J.D. has enjoyed a couple of historic “firsts:” he was the first Arizonan to serve on the powerful Ways and Means Committee in the House, and in 2016, he became the first former federal officeholder to anchor national television coverage of Election Night.

Jay Lawrence Elected to Arizona House of Representatives

Jay Lawrence was a talk show host at KTAR radio for 26 years.  He left the media and was elected to the Arizona House of Representatives, where he served for six years, from 2015 to 2021.

Who is Next?

Recently, there was a Twitter thread in which the future of former FOX 10 anchor Kari Lake was discussed.  The question was asked: “Is Kari Lake planning a run for governor?”  While there wasn’t any yes or no answer or comment from Lake, Arizona Capitol Times reporter Julia Shumway noted that there was a “KariLake4Governor” website registered to her husband’s company.

So many questions.  Will she run?  Will she join the likes of Rose Mofford, Jane Hull, Janet Napolitano and Jan Brewer as women who have held our state’s highest office? Will she join the likes of those who transitioned from media to elected official?

One thing is for sure, it will be different being on the other side of the microphone.

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Written by
at Apr 7, 2021

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