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Promises, Promises

The 2006 campaign season has begun!

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And they're off! The 2006 ballot took shape last week when candidates for a whole slew of important offices--U.S. Congress, governor, mine inspector--filed their petitions with the Secretary of State's office. Now they're loose on the streets, knocking on doors, kissing hands and shaking babies.

Here's our annual rundown of who's running for office, along with a list of all the candidate Web sites that we could find. The primary election is Sept. 12; the deadline for registering to vote in the primary is Aug. 14. The general election is Nov. 7.


U.S. Senate

As he seeks a third term, Republican Sen. Jon Kyl is facing a significant challenge from Democrat Jim Pederson, who made his fortune building shopping centers in Maricopa County. Pederson has poured millions into the Democratic Party, ballot initiatives and his favorite candidates; now he's gonna spend it on his own campaign, setting the stage for the biggest campaign-spending orgy in Arizona's history. It's sure a good time to own a TV station.

Richard Mack, the former Graham County sheriff who made headlines with his successful lawsuit challenging the background-check provisions of the federal Brady Bill, is running on the Libertarian ticket.

Congress, District 8

Congressman Jim Kolbe's announcement that he was retiring from the seat he was first elected to in 1984 sent a stampede of candidates into action.

On the Democratic side, Gabrielle Giffords, who resigned from her state Senate seat to run for Congress, has grabbed the most endorsements and the most checks. Giffords has the support of unions representing teachers, firefighters, police officers, grocery workers and teachers, among others. According to the most recent campaign-finance reports, covering activity through the end of March, she'd raised more than $569,000.

Giffords would likely be cruising to an easy victory in the Democratic primary if it weren't for the entrance of former TV news anchor Patty Weiss. Weiss, who was pushed out of her KVOA Channel 4 TV gig last year, has decided she wants a political career--and given her extraordinary name ID, she's got a reasonable shot at succeeding. Weiss trails Giffords in both endorsements--she's got former KGUN Channel 9 weatherman Paul Huttner and FDR granddaughter Nina Roosevelt Gibson, among others--and fundraising, having raised about $173,000 at the end of last quarter.

Other candidates in the race include:

  • Former Air Force pilot Jeff Latas.
  • TUSD board member Alex Rodriguez.
  • Retired federal employee Francine Shacter.
  • The mysterious Bill Johnson.

On other side of the aisle, five Republicans are seeking the seat. The highest profile belongs to Randy Graf, the former state lawmaker who landed 42 percent of the vote when he took on Kolbe two years ago. Graf, who is looking for a new campaign spokesman as of last week (see this week's Skinny for details), has a base among conservatives, but faces a challenge in winning over centrists.

Graf also faces a challenge raising money. As of the end of the last quarter, he had already spent $118,560 of the $130,812 he had raised.

The biggest wallet belongs to Steve Huffman, who is now serving in the state House of Representatives. Huffman, who has won Kolbe's endorsement, had raised $239,659 as of the end of last quarter.

Despite the best efforts of Huffman's supporters to force him out of the race, former GOP national committeeman Mike Hellon stayed in. Hellon has picked up support from the likes of Pima County Supervisor Ray Carroll, former City Council member Kathleen Dunbar and former Arizona Gov. Jane Dee Hull.

Also in the race:

  • Mike Jenkins, an auto-repair shop manager who has unsuccessfully ran for the City Council and the Arizona Legislature.
  • Frank Antenori, a former Green Beret who now works at Raytheon.

Tucsonan Jay Quick, who owns Quick Custom Metals and calls himself the "Average Joe for Congress," will appear on the November ballot as an Independent.

Congress, District 7

Two GOP candidates are fighting it out for the chance to get pole-axed by Congressman Raul Grijalva in November.

Republican Ron Drake stepped down as mayor of Avondale to take on Grijalva. It's unclear to us--and to the folks we've talked to--whether Drake actually believes he can win, or if this is an effort to build his standing within the GOP.

Either way, Drake has to get past Republican Joe Sweeney, the perennial candidate whose frequent runs for office have given him significant name ID, despite his tenuous grasp on reality. In the 2004 contested primary, Sweeney got more than 70 percent of the vote.

Governor

Incumbent Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano is sitting in the fabled catbird seat as she wraps up her first term. She's got no major scandals to contend with; she has consistently outwitted her enemies in the Arizona Legislature; the state is enjoying a massive budget surplus; and an April opinion poll by Phoenix PBS affiliate KAET-TV showed she had a job approval rating of 73 percent.

So it's no surprise that many of the Big Names that were floated as Republican challengers--Congressman J.D. Hayworth, for example, or former Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley--steered clear of the race.

But that has opened the door to new faces in the GOP:

Len Munsil, the former director of the Center for Arizona Policy, a Christian-right lobbying organization, is the first Republican candidate to qualify for Clean Elections funding and has landed a whole bunch of endorsements, including half of the state's congressmen and 28 members of the Arizona Legislature. And we suspect he has the Lord on his side.

Don Goldwater, nephew of the late 'n' legendary Barry Goldwater, has built his campaign around a tough approach on illegal immigration--he suggests undocumented border-crossers be detained in tents near the border and forced to build a wall, for example--but he also wants to eliminate the state income tax, reduce the size of government and expand school choice.

Mike Harris is a Phoenix businessman who boasts of the billion-dollar deals he's put together--which makes it all the more curious that he's recently argued in court that he needs to lower his child-support payments, because he's close to bankruptcy. Could we have a third-rate Fife Symington on our hands?

Gary Tupper, a Phoenix contractor who is making his first run for office, is vowing to fight "government waste, injustice and corruption."

Libertarian Barry Hess, who got 1.7 percent of the vote in 2002, is also on the ballot.

Attorney General

The only Democrat to hold state office besides Napolitano, Attorney General Terry Goddard says he's spent his first term protecting Arizonans from consumer rip-off artists, identity thieves, meth monsters and other criminal masterminds.

But Bill Montgomery, a former prosecutor in the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, says Goddard has failed to protect Arizonans from "out-of-control illegal immigration, persistent crime and the erosion of our fundamental freedoms," as well as the specter of gay marriage.

Secretary of State

Incumbent Secretary of State Jan Brewer faces a primary challenge from Republican Skip Rimsza, a former Phoenix mayor who encourages folks who want to learn more about him to "google Skip Rimsza." Too bad the high-tech guy is the only candidate who hasn't bothered to set up a Web site yet. (Or at least one that turns up when we google Skip Rimsza.)

The winner of the GOP primary will face Israel Torres, who served as registrar of contractors in the Napolitano administration.

Libertarian Ernest Hancock will also appear on the November ballot.

Treasurer

With incumbent Treasurer David Petersen not seeking a second term (it has something to do with the fact that he's under investigation by the Attorney General's Office), state Sen. Dean Martin wants to move up to statewide office. He'll face Democrat Rano Singh in the November general.

Superintendent of Public Instruction

Incumbent Republican Tom Horne will face one of two Democrats in the fall: Either Slade Mead, who served as a Republican in the state Legislature until his lib leanings got him knocked out in a GOP primary two years ago; or Jason Williams, a former teacher who is making his first run for public office.

Corporation Commission

Two seats are up for grabs on the five-member Arizona Corporation Commission, which regulates businesses and utilities--in other words, they decide whether your rates go up. Republican Kris Mayes, who was appointed to the seat by Gov. Janet Napolitano before winning it two years ago, is seeking re-election. Her fellow Republican, Mark Spitzer, has recently been appointed to a federal regulatory commission, which means that the second GOP candidate is TBD.

Two Democrats are also seeking seats: Richard Boyer, a Sierra Vista lawyer, and Mark Manoil, a Phoenix lawyer.

Libertarian Rick Fowlkes will also appear on the November ballot.

Mine Inspector

With longtime Mine Inspector Doug Martin retiring, two Republicans are looking to replace him in perhaps the least-noticed statewide office. Former state lawmaker Joe Hart will take on Larry Nelson, a former deputy director in the office.

Arizona Legislature: District 25

LD 25, which takes in Marana and other parts of Southern Arizona, is an anomaly in Arizona politics: Although it leans Democratic, the House seats are split between a Democrat, Manny Alvarez, and a Republican, Jennifer Burns.

Like most House members from Southern Arizona, Burns is a moderate Republican, which doesn't sit well with many of her Phoenix colleagues and a whole bunch of her constituents. She's facing a challenge from Sierra Vista's Gail Griffin, a House member in the late '90s who leans way right, and Roger Condra, a high school teacher who lost a GOP primary for county assessor two years ago.

Alvarez will be joined on the November ballot by fellow Democrat Pat Fleming, a political activist who is retired from a civilian job at Fort Huachuca.

Republican Mary Ann Black is challenging Democratic incumbent Sen. Marsha Arzberger.

District 26

As she seeks her fourth term in the Arizona Senate representing the northwest side, Toni Hellon is facing a challenge in the GOP primary from Al Melvin, who is retired from a career in commercial international shipping. Melvin says he's in the race "to give the voters of LD26 a conservative alternative to the liberal representation they've had for the last six years." That's for sure: Melvin's pro-life, while Hellon has supported abortion rights; he's for tort reform, she's for trial lawyers. He's all for vouchers, while Hellon has opposed them. He's a little bit country; she's a little bit rock 'n' roll. Democrat Charlene Pesquiera will face the winner of the GOP primary.

With Rep. Steve Huffman leaving the House of Representatives behind to run in CD8, there's an open seat. Incumbent Rep. Pete Hershberger is running for re-election; he'll be joined by former lawmaker Carol Somers, as well as newcomers Lisa Lovallo, a business consultant who teaches at the UA Eller School of Business, and David Jorgenson, a custom-home builder who calls himself "100 percent Republican."

Two of the Republicans will face Democrat Lena Saradnik in the November general.

District 27

Sen. Jorge Luis Garcia faces no re-election challenge in this westside district, while House members Olivia Cajero Bedford and Phil Lopes will face Republican newcomer Gene Chewning, a local minister who's ready to mix church and state, in November.

District 28

Democrat Paula Aboud, who was appointed to the Senate seat earlier this year to replace Gabrielle Giffords (who is running for that CD8 seat), is facing Rep. Ted Downing, who wants a promotion from the House in this midtown Tucson district.

"Do you want a veteran, experienced legislator in there, or do you an appointed newbie?" Downing asks. "I'm not trying to slam her, though."

With Downing giving up his seat, there's a crowded House race. Along with Rep. David Bradley, who is seeking re-election, three Democrats are in:

Steve Farley, the graphic artist who lost his bid for a City Council seat last year and played a key role in the passage of the transportation sales tax in May, now wants to go the Capitol to focus on transportation, health care and education.

Ted Prezelski says he'll be focusing on education, social spending and protecting local control against the influence of the Legislature. "A lot of issues go undiscussed, and then we end up with a debate on whether to put flags in classrooms," Prezelski says.

Matt Heinz, who is wrapping up his medical residency and preparing to start his internal-medicine career, says health care will be his focus. He decided to run for the Legislature because "I can't think of a better place for one or two or three or maybe even a dozen physicians to be than in a legislative body of some sort, trying to sort through this mess. ... I feel I have to help heal the health-care system, to be totally cheesy about it."

Republican Bill Phillips, who lost his first bid for a House seat two years ago, is back for another try again this year.

District 29

Senator Vic Soltero has a free ride to re-election in this southside district, but there's a crowded House race. Democratic incumbents Linda Lopez and Tom Prezelski face retired nurse Betty Liggins, who has worked to clean up her southside neighborhood; political consultant Ernest Bustamante; and Patricia Anne Puig.

Republican Bruce Murchison, a high school teacher who unsuccessfully tried to unseat Soltero two years ago, is running for a House seat in the heavily Democratic district. Murchison acknowledges that "it's going to be hard to win, since I'm outnumbered on the voter registration. But I look at our Legislature and see that there are people who just aren't doing their jobs." He says he wants to focus on improving education, fighting crime and creating jobs.

District 30

Sen. Tim Bee, the majority leader who hopes to win the Senate presidency next year, faces Democrat Jeff Chimene, a left-leaning progressive who lost a Democratic primary in CD8 last year, in this eastside Tucson district that also includes Green Valley, Sierra Vista and points in between.

The House GOP primary is a crowded affair. Incumbent lawmakers Jonathan Paton and Marian McClure are both seeking re-election.

The two incumbents are up against magazine distributor David Gowan, who lost the 2004 primary (and ended up in hot water with the Clean Elections Commission, which hasn't stopped him from going after Clean Elections dollars again this year) and Frank Callegari, a retired state trooper who stands for more law and order. For example: To cut costs in the state prison system, he wants to put inmate in tents and then put them to work.

"There's nothing wrong with having tents for prisoners, and I would encourage that, because the brick and mortar costs a lot of money," he says.

The two winners of the GOP primary will face Democrat Clarence Boykins, a longtime local civil-rights activist, in the November general. Boykins is unlikely to win the heavily Republican district, but he could build up name ID for a future run for the Tucson City Council.

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