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The Skinny

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IMMIGRATION BREAKDOWN

The Senate gave up on the grand bargain last week, meaning we're not likely to see immigration reform in the Bush administration's lifetime.

Sure, we may get more Border Patrol agents and more fences, but those were on the way already. And we may get a few more token federal immigration raids on employers (along with some state investigations now that Gov. Janet Napolitano has signed the employer-sanctions bill).

But we're a long way from dealing with the 12 million--or more--illegal immigrants now in the United States, or the magnet that draws them here: work.

The big soundbite used by opponents of the plan was "amnesty"--as if the fines and long wait for citizenship were some sort of free ride.

State Rep. Russell Pearce, state GOP chair Randy Pullen and their gang want anyone who is in this country illegally to go home, no matter how unrealistic that goal is. Their solution: Make life so miserable for undocumented workers that they're driven from this country.

That's not an approach favored by a majority of Arizonans. While illegal immigration is a concern of many voters, a recent Cronkite-Eight Poll (from the Arizona State University journalism school and Phoenix's KAET-TV) showed that 68 percent of registered Arizona voters said they favored granting illegal immigrants who had been in the United States for several years a path to citizenship, provided they register with the government, pay fines and learn to speak English.

Why? Because most Americans are fundamentally decent people who don't want to live in a country where brown-skinned people are being persecuted and rounded up.

Pearce complained to Howie Fischer of Capitol Media Services that pollster Bruce Merrill's question was biased. Pearce, who blasted Arizona Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl as "traitors," said Merrill should have asked if voters approved of allowing people who have broken U.S. laws to remain in the United States.

Yeah, no bias there!


TO BEE OR NOT TO BEE

Bloggers on both the right and the left, as well as some members of the media elite who should know better, are saying state Sen. Tim Bee needs to resign from the Senate presidency if he's going to take on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords next year.

We don't think Bee's going to step down.

The GOP establishment sees Bee as the ideal candidate against the Democratic incumbent. He's beloved by his constituents, and he's got a solid conservative voting record, although some on the right wing are angry that he was willing to work with Senate Democrats and Gov. Janet Napolitano on this year's budget--a strategy that will help him with the moderate middle in Congressional District 8.

But we're hearing rumblings that Bee needs to dedicate himself to full-time campaigning if he hopes to upset Giffords in 2008. If he remains in the Senate president's post, he won't have time to "campaign."

That's bullshit. First of all, what's campaigning, anyway? It's getting attention--and the Senate presidency has brought Bee more attention than he's ever gotten before. The dailies have been full of stories and editorials about how Bee has brought a new spirit of cooperation to the Legislature. If he weren't in office, he wouldn't be getting that kind of ink.

And while he's in the state Senate, he has a chance to bring home a lot of bacon to Southern Arizona, which will make him the friends he needs for a congressional campaign.

Some folks point out that former state lawmaker Steve Huffman didn't resign last year and ended up losing the GOP primary to Randy Graf. But the situation is hardly analogous. Even after the session ended, Huffman was a half-hearted campaigner, skipping events and blowing off the press. Plus, he was in a crowded field for an open seat. On top of that, there was a large contingent of Republicans who just didn't like Huffman, while Graf started from--and finished with--a solid base within the district.

Even if next year's session goes until the end of June, Bee isn't likely to face more than a token primary, so he'll have plenty of time to organize a television campaign and a get-out-the-vote effort for November. And he can count on Republicans to be attacking Giffords with independent campaigns between now and Election Day.

The big downside to remaining Senate president is finding time to raise money. As of the end of March, Giffords already had more than $400,000 in the bank; by the end of the year, she should have a million bucks.

But Bee can set up an exploratory committee later this year to get started on that front, and he can count on a reasonable level of support from the party, given that he's running in a district where Republicans have a voter-registration edge.


MONEY SHOTS

City Council candidates showed us the money earlier this week, filing campaign finance reports covering fundraising efforts through May 31.

Democrat Rodney Glassman, who is seeking to replace retiring Ward 2 Councilwoman Carol West, led the field. Glassman had raised $36,757 and received an additional $17,933 in public matching funds. As we've mentioned before, Glassman is only taking $20 contributions, which makes his take all the more impressive.

Glassman's primary opponent, Robert Reus, had raised just $40, along with $370 of his own money he'd dropped on the campaign.

Lori Oien, the Republican Glassman will face after he wins the Ward 2 primary, is faring better. She's raised more than $10,800 and has applied for city matching funds.

Oien, an activist with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, has also picked up support from some law-enforcement organizations in the last few weeks. She's been endorsed by the Arizona Conference of Police and Sheriffs (AZCOPS), the Pima County Deputy Sheriff's Association and the Tucson Police Officers Association.

In the Ward 1 race to replace Councilpunk José Ibarra, Democrat Regina Romero has raised $28,649. Romero, an experienced politico who has worked in Pima County's neighborhood programs, has not yet applied for matching funds.

Romero's opponent, Democrat Ken Green, had raised just $1,085. With no Republican in the race, the primary will settle the Ward 1 contest.

There's no primary in Ward 4, where incumbent Democrat Shirley Scott is facing Republican Dan Spahr.

Scott is way out ahead of Spahr, having raised $15,576 to his $2,631.

But the really bad news for Spahr are the names on Scott's fundraising list. Along with money from lefty Democrats like state Rep. Steve Farley, she's got big contributions from the likes of auto huckster Jim Click ($390) and developer Don Diamond ($370), along with a lot of the developers that roll with the Big D.

That puts the GOP fundraising heavyweights firmly in Scott's corner, meaning that Spahr--a political rookie--is going to be scrambling for contributions.

Finally, Mayor Bob Walkup has raised $30,080 in his battle against Green Party candidate Dave Croteau, who said he'd done no fundraising. Hot dog vendor Bruce Gerowitz, who hopes to win as a write-in candidate, also reported no fundraising activity.

Want to pour over the reports yourself? They're available online for the first time.


JUDGMENT DAY

Congrats to Margaret Kenski, who was recently honored with the Chief Justice's Outstanding Contribution to the Courts Award for her volunteer work in the judicial arena.

Kenski, who runs the polling firm Arizona Opinion (which did polling for the Tucson Weekly and our sister newspapers during the 2006 Congressional District 8 election), has brought her levelheaded expertise to the courts for more than 15 years.

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