Politico Mafioso's Jeff Vath, the GOP's "Badass Blogger," Dies following Ulcer Surgery
Jeff Vath, aka "TonyGOPrano" with U.S. Senator Jeff Flake...
One of Arizona's most influential bloggers, Jeff Vath, the man behind the widely-read, GOP-centric Politico Mafioso blog, passed away Tuesday night at John C. Lincoln Hospital in Deer Valley. He was 52.
According to his wife of 24 years, Mary Anne, Vath's death was due to complications from surgery on a perforated ulcer. He never recovered from the operation.
Vath's premature demise leaves a tremendous void on the political scene, one that will not easily be filled. His colorful, take-no-prisoners approach to Republican politics under the guise of "TonyGoprano" earned him many fans among mainstream Republicans, and perhaps just as many detractors on the far right.
Vath's wraparound with the title he so richly deserved...
Indeed, Vath made no secret of his allegiances, subtitling his blog, "Leader of the McCain Mafia," and offering unequivocal support for politicians such as U.S. Senator Jeff Flake, U.S. Senator John McCain, state Senator Bob Worsley, and others.
I knew him as an ally in the fight against former state Senate President Russell Pearce, and as a moderating influence in the state GOP. A lifelong Arizonan, he was devoted to politics and to his party, and he worked tirelessly to oppose the extremist elements he saw dragging the Arizona GOP and his state down.
One of those he worked to get elected is Robert Graham, chairman of the Arizona Republican Party. Graham was saddened greatly by Vath's passing.
"It's a big loss for friends, family, and Arizona and Arizona Republicans, to lose a guy that was so selflessly committed to the cause," Graham said when I reached him by phone. "Not everybody agreed with him, but...those that he supported loved him, and cared for him as a friend. And we'll all miss him."
His widow Mary Anne told me that Vath died peacefully, with his family around him. She said that since Vath fell ill she'd been receiving messages of support from numerous politicians and movers and shakers in the Republican Party, including Governor Jan Brewer, with whom Vath was friends.
"I feel like he went out at the top of his game," she told me. "His brother said, `Politics was his religion,' and I told him he was right. Jeff had three passions: politics, sports and his family."