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CROSSING THE LINE

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, the Democratic incumbent who is facing GOP challenger Jesse Kelly in the Nov. 2 election, rolled out the 2010 version of Republicans for Giffords this week.

Among her GOP supporters: former state lawmakers Pete Hershberger and Jennifer Burns, who both served with Giffords in the Arizona Legislature; Sahuarita Mayor Lynne Skelton; Sierra Vista Mayor Bob Strain; the Tucson Police Department's Larry Lopez, who heads up the Tucson Police Officers Association and the Arizona Conference of Police and Sheriffs, a statewide law-enforcement union that has endorsed Giffords; Lisa Lovallo of Cox Communications; and developer John Wesley Miller.

"Gabrielle Giffords gives us the representation that we want," says Hershberger, who served for eight years in the Arizona House of Representatives, but lost a 2008 Senate primary to Al Melvin in Legislative District 26. "She's smart, hard-working and listens to us in Southern Arizona. ... She works across party lines to craft solutions.

"We want a representative who will take a practical, common-sense approach to governance, not ideological political purism," Hershberger adds. "Congresswoman Giffords is a statesman, not a partisan."

Strain praised Giffords' work to safeguard the border, help Fort Huachuca and protect the San Pedro River, while Skelton said Giffords had helped the town get federal transportation dollars to better deal with its rapid growth.

Lopez leans further to the right than some of the other GOP officials who were at the Monday, Oct. 4, press conference, but he called the state police union's endorsement of Giffords "a no-brainer," citing Giffords' efforts to help establish national training standards for law enforcement, her fight to bring federal dollars back to Tucson and her willingness to listen.

"Out of all the lawmakers at the federal level, Gabby is probably the most accessible one," Lopez says. "Whether I'm in D.C. or she's here—and she comes here a lot—she keeps in contact with us."

Lopez says that Giffords gave a big boost to the city of Tucson last week by helping secure a federal grant worth $12.3 million. Lopez says that will help the city pay the salary of 50 cops.

"It's enormous," Lopez says. "It's not going to solve all our problems, but it's a big, positive thing. It's something our officers can grasp on to and know that there are people out there who are supporting them."

Kelly, who wants to sharply cut all discretionary funding by the federal government, has been critical throughout his campaign of Giffords' efforts to deliver federal money to Fort Huachuca, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, the University of Arizona and other recipients of earmark dollars. He's vowed that he won't seek that kind of federal aid for Southern Arizona.

But last week, Kelly stopped short of condemning the new money for Tucson police. Via e-mail, Kelly tried to turn the issue toward illegal immigration by saying that the money would not have been necessary if more had been spent on securing the border.

Lopez chuckled at that notion.

"That's not how it works," says Lopez, who says that the city's budget problems are at the root of the shortfall of dollars for police officers.


GRIJALVA VS. MCCLUNG: IS IT A RACE?

Republican Ruth McClung released a poll last week showing that she trails Democratic Congressman Raúl Grijalva by just 7 percentage points in Congressional District 7.

Grijalva had the support of 42 percent of the voters in the poll, while McClung had the support of 35 percent. Another 23 percent were undecided.

"People are very concerned about jobs and the economy," says McClung, a Raytheon engineer who is making her first run for political office. "They feel like they're not getting represented."

She adds that Grijalva shouldn't have called for a boycott of Arizona after Gov. Jan Brewer signed SB 1070.

"When you're dealing with the lack of jobs, and your representative calls for a boycott, people are fairly upset," she says.

Pat Burns of the Grijalva campaign had no comment on the survey, but it's worth noting that a poll from a candidate's own campaign deserves an extra degree of skepticism. Nonetheless, the poll tracks with the political chatter that Grijalva is facing a tough challenge this year.

Grijalva, who was first elected to Congress in 2002, won his 2008 race against Republican Joe Sweeney with 63 percent of the vote. He defeated Republican Ron Drake with 61 percent of the vote in 2006.

The poll, which has a margin of error of 4.3 percent, was conducted on Sept. 25-26 by American Political Consulting, which notes that "other factors, such as refusal to be interviewed and weighting, may introduce additional error that is more difficult to quantify."

The most recent registration count shows that 44 percent of District 7 voters are Democrats, while just 23 percent are Republicans. Another 32 percent identify as independents.

Voters in the poll self-identified their political leanings, with 32 percent saying they were Democrats, 21 percent saying they were Republicans, 34 percent saying they were independent, and 13 percent saying they were undecided. Women made up 52 percent of the sample, while men made up 48 percent.

If you're interested in getting a look at what Grijalva and McClung have to offer, you can see them debate at 5 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 13, at the Pima Community College Desert Vista Campus, 5901 S. Calle Santa Cruz.


FRUGAL FRANK?

State Sen. Frank Antenori of Legislative District 30 is treating his campaign-finance account as if it were the state's coffers: He's spending every last dime.

While Antenori has raised more than $57,000 in his campaign to keep his appointed Senate seat, he spent most of that money in the primary and was down to his last $3,000, as of Sept 13, according to the latest round of campaign-finance reports.

His Democratic opponent, University of Arizona professor and researcher Todd Camenisch, had about $9,000 on hand as of Sept. 13.

Antenori recently told the Tucson Weekly that he couldn't make it to a debate because he was "out raising enough money to bury (Camenisch) like a freaking fish in the backyard," but the reports show Camenisch raised nearly twice as much as Antenori in the period covering Aug. 5 to Sept. 13.

The post-primary election reports, which were released last week, also showed that for all his talk about how the state shouldn't spend more than it brings in, Antenori spent $54 more than he brought in.

Antenori says going into the red on campaign spending "is different. I don't see the similarity. It's private money; it's not taxpayer money. It's people who contribute to the campaign."

Antenori says he's not afraid of going into debt to win the race. In his 2008 campaign for the state House of Representatives, he went into the red by about $7,000, he says, and he spent nearly double what he planned to in this year's primary race against former state lawmaker Marian McClure.

"I would have rather spent that money to kick her ass than not spend that money and have her beat me," Antenori says. "We beat her, and we'll do the same thing to Mr. Camenisch."

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