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GOOBERS ON PARADE

The lights were low--creating just the right ambience for making out--at a GOP gubernatorial forum moderated by Pima County Supervisor "Sugar" Ray Carroll at Catalina High School Saturday morning, April 8. Attendees had a chance to submit questions to four of the potential Republican candidates who want to kick "J.No"--Gov. Janet Napolitano--out of office in November. (Len Munsil, former head of the Center for Arizona Policy, was too busy collecting signatures for his faltering ban-gay-marriage-and-domestic-partnerships campaign to attend.)

Maybe he was trying to hammer his points home, but Don Goldwater was much louder than the other three. The contrast in speaking styles was especially pronounced against Gary Tupper, whose soft, apologetic voice reminded us of Bob Ross, the late host of Joy of Painting. Wouldn't it be cool to have a governor whose platform was "happy little trees" for everyone?

Other highlights, that we could not make up if we tried:

Goldwater said he favored forcing captured illegal immigrants to build a border wall and clean the desert.

"We are a sovereign nation," he told the audience. "If we cannot control our borders, we are doomed. We are lost." It was the inability to do so, he said, that led to the fall of the Greek, Roman and Prussian empires. We'll let the first two (bad) examples slide, but the Prussians?

As someone who lived for 35 years within walking distance of the border, Jan Smith Florez was emphatic about understanding immigration issues. She said she had a "well thought-out, strategic plan" for border security and that she thought it was "cheeky" for illegal immigrants to demand rights when they're here, well, illegally.

Florez told the audience she'd use her court training in "domestic-relations mediation" to bring back the love between the Arizona Legislature and the governor's office.

Mike Harris, who twice called himself "a physical conservative" (we think he meant fiscal conservative), took a pro-business tack when answering questions. While this may have made sense in many instances--like when he was asked what he would do with Arizona's tax windfall--it seemed unlikely that his dry, statistics-heavy theory about why young people should vote for him would appeal to the iPod generation. Not that they vote much, anyway.

Harris floated an unusual idea when asked about his opinions on recent immigration demonstrations. He seemed to suggest that everyone in the protests was an illegal immigrant and should therefore be tried for "sedition."

Tupper, the self-proclaimed "independent Republican," really stuck to his guns on issues like abortion (he can't make choices for women) and stationing the National Guard on the border (a waste of money).

He said Napolitano's popularity in the polls is "a product of the press," and, as such, she doesn't represent the people--particularly the "portion of people who don't even know who the governor is."


SCRAMBLEWATCH '06 SPECIAL REPORT: SCRAMBLING FOR DOLLARS

Democrat Gabrielle Giffords, who gave up her Arizona Senate seat to pursue the seat of retiring Congressman Jim Kolbe, filled the press in on her latest fundraising achievements at an ice-cream social earlier this week. Giffords reported raising more than $562,000 from more than 1,500 contributors by the end of March. More than $314,000 was raised in the first quarter of 2006.

Giffords' opponents--former newscaster Patty Weiss, Jet Blue pilot Jeff Latas, TUSD Board member Alex Rodriguez and retired federal worker Francine Schacter--have to submit their reports to the FEC later this week. Just guessing here, but we suspect that Giffords has raised more than all of them combined at this point.

The Giffords campaign also reported that the team had knocked on more than 2,300 doors and had been chased off by exactly three ferocious dogs.

In other Scramblewatch news: Weiss released a press bulletin calling President George Bush's decision to leak classified info to reporter Judith Miller of The New York Times "unconscionable." Meanwhile, Latas released a statement expressing concern that the Bush administration is considering a strike against Iran, possibly with nuclear bunker-busters.


TURNS OUT THAT SOME OF THE GOP'S BEST GARDENERS ARE LATINO

Labor activist Dolores Huerta, in town recently for a celebration of Cesar Chavez's birthday, was quite the firebrand during a speaking engagement at Tucson High, especially when she twice told the kids that "Republicans hate Latinos."

Huerta also told kids to skip class and go protest, while Tucson Unified School District officials and other local bigshots were telling them to wait until after school to exercise their precious First Amendment freedoms.

Huerta's speech, posted on TUSD's Web site, inspired state Rep. Jonathan Paton to send a letter to the TUSD asking a number of questions about Huerta's "political hate speech," as well as inquiring about whether TUSD paid overtime wages to bus drivers who picked up truant kids after they ditched school to attend rallies downtown.

TUSD Superintendent Roger Pfeuffer must be excited about answering those queries at the same time Republican lawmakers are stitching together a budget. (They are stitching together a budget, aren't they?) Wonder if Pfeuffer will be making an appearance before the newly formed House Select Committee on Government Operations, Performance and Waste?


FANTASY FULFILLED

Before they temporarily abandoned the Capitol to avoid the onslaught of 100,000 marchers supporting citizenship for illegal entrants, the state Senate voted 22-5 to pass the Save Fantasy Island resolution. Sponsored by Republican Jonathan Paton and Democrat Tom Prezelski of the Arizona House of Representatives, the legislation calls on the State Land Department to work with the city of Tucson to preserve the 335-acre network of mountain-bike trails near Houghton and Irvington roads that land department staffers want to auction off for condos and townhomes.

Meanwhile, the Fantasy Island Web site--www.savefantasyisland.org--is back up and running, following some technical difficulties. The Web site has a proposed map showing how the Fantasy Island Trails Park would mix with neighboring housing. Some of the trails are going to be history, but the main network would be preserved under the plan.


ODDS ON THE ODD

The Skinny just got back from Rocky Point, where we attended the fun-filled wedding of Hector Acuña, Tucson Weekly's former art director, and Lisa Weeks, the Weekly's former music editor. (This place is just full of love!) The sunset ceremony, held atop a patio just off the shores of Las Conchas, was a heartwarming affair conducted by yet another former Weekly art director, Royce Davenport. The bride was simply stunning, the groom was dashing and the beer was cold. Our congratulations to the newlyweds!

While we were south of the border, we visited the Caliente sports book, where we found the latest odds on the 2008 presidential race.

Rudy Giuliani is currently even money to win the GOP nomination. Trailing behind him, at 5 to 1, is Arizona Sen. John McCain, which strikes us as a pretty good bet at this point. Also 5 to 1: Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. Down at 17 to 1 is California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, despite the fact that he's ineligible to hold the office on account of being foreign-born. The longest odds belong to Laura Bush, at 100 to 1. (Dick Cheney was the second-longest, at 50 to 1.)

Hillary Clinton leads the Democratic pack at 5 to 7. John Edwards is at 4 to 1, while New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson is at 5 to 1. The longest shot is Bill Maher at 150 to 1.

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