One of our most well-known fellow Arizona political bloggers passed away last night, Jeff Vath of Politico Mafioso and the self-described “Leader of the McCain Mafia.” He was a dear friend and will be greatly missed.
Jeff was quite the character; in my opinion the most colorful blogger in the state. He was only 53. He had struggled with his weight for years, but he had started to make progress over the past couple of years, losing 88 pounds. Surrounded by family and friends last night, I believe he died of a perforated ulcer that led to heart failure.
When he first appeared on the Arizona blogging scene a few years ago, I didn’t know what to
|Jeff with his hero, Senator John McCain|
think of him. He was a diehard Republican, but he never seemed to like any of the candidates I liked; didn’t like the conservative Pachyderm Coalition. He frequently supported liberal Republicans in the primaries (but to be perfectly honest, some of the conservative candidates he opposed were not the greatest candidates and prone to gaffes).
I got along with him though, because as our mutual friend Charles Jensen (Politics on the Rocks) liked to point out, Jeff always looked out for the underdog. When Jeff saw his friends getting beat up in the media or in politics, he was never afraid to come out and blast their attackers on his blog. He truly was the Politico Mafioso, afraid of nothing. He broke many stories that were picked up by the mainstream media.
Jeff was a big fan of Senator John McCain, and things really heated up between him and I when I became social media director for the JD Hayworth senatorial campaign against McCain. Jeff would attack us on his blog, but things usually didn’t get too mean; most of his attacks consisted of the funniest pictures of us. Shane Wikfors of Sonoran
|Politico Mafioso’s photoshop of JD Hayworth, Rob Haney, Shane Wikfors, CQ and I|
Alliance was the field director for the Hayworth campaign, and it became all out war between the two blogs for awhile! Jeff was very talented with graphics. During the campaign he appropriately added the title “Leader of the McCain Mafia” to his blog.
When my older brother passed away in 2009 of leukemia, Jeff was there for me, and he got to know my sister whom he also consoled, much like an older brother. They remained good friends until he passed away.
It was just one month ago that I posted the photo of his new decked-out car with “Politico Mafioso: Leader of the McCain Mafia – The GOP’s Bad Ass Blogger” plastered on the side, which he drove to Politics on the Rocks.
I will deeply miss him. His wife Mary Anne is a retired schoolteacher, and past president of the local retired schoolteachers’ association. My mom was also a schoolteacher, and Mary Anne reminded me a lot of my mom; witty, fun and a truly decent person. My heart goes out to her at this time.
R.I.P. Jeff Vath. I know you’re up there in heaven looking down at us shaking your head at how the Republican National Committee doesn’t have a clue with its efforts to modernize the party, and the Maricopa County GOP chair’s latest remarks about Brewer getting him into hot water with Andy Tobin and other Republicans. But I know you’re smiling because at least we got Robert Graham in as state party chair!