It happened last week, a sea change in how hirsute men are represented in Congress.
With the victory of Rep.-elect Ron Barber (D-Ariz.) in the special election to replace former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D), all of Southern Arizona is now represented by a man with facial hair.
From Yuma in the west to Douglas in the east, the people of the 7th and 8th Congressional districts in Arizona will see goatees on their elected representatives in Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D) and Barber. And it’s not just the southern part of the Grand Canyon State that has facial-hair-adorned representation. Democratic Rep. Ed Pastor, whose district encompasses metro Phoenix, also has a mustache.
Although we loathe math at HOH, we calculated that this means 30 percent of Arizona’s Members of Congress have facial hair. Because Arizona is getting another seat in the next Congress because of reapportionment, that figure could grow.
“I’ve never considered myself a trendsetter,” Grijalva tells HOH, adding, “To wear a goatee and mustache, though, you have to exude warmth. ... With the three of us, I think you can say we project that image of warmth.”
Facial hair advocates were overjoyed.
“There’s no question that it sends a message to the Southwest and its residents that mustachioed men are ready to lead with an iron-fisted attitude,” said the American Mustache Institute’s Aaron Perlut, an HOH favorite.
Perlut said the election could rattle the delicate balance of power among AMI chapters. “We have a thriving chapter in Phoenix. ... The entire mustached-man community in America will be watching,” he said.
At a minimum, the AMI might need to revisit its own white paper last year ranking America’s most mustache-friendly cities. Barber and Grijalva split Tucson between their two districts. The AMI’s current rankings have Tucson as the 64th most mustache-friendly city in the United States. Pastor’s home district of Phoenix comes in at 21st.
Grijalva also holds out hope for another Arizona trend, the bolo tie. “That’s next! Ed and I wear it. It’s allowed on the floor, which is a godsend. And we’ll talk to Ron about it,” he said.