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GOP ON IMMIGRATION REFORM: NEVER MIND

We're sorry we spent so much ink explaining the House Republicans principles for immigration reform last week—because that ink was barely dry on our print edition when House Speaker John Boehner announced that he didn't think any immigration-reform legislation was possible this year.

Boehner blamed President Barack Obama, saying that House Republicans just didn't trust him to enforce any changes in the law.

But it's more likely that Republicans just don't see much of a short-term upside to alienating their base—which still wants to see undocumented immigrants driven from the U.S.A. rather than given any kind of legal status—during the midterm election cycle. Sure, the toss-the-immigrants-out approach will hurt them in the presidential contests, but that's the long term, or a whole two years from now.

Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-CD3) told The Skinny that there was a "flicker of hope" when Republicans released their principles saying they supported something akin to the DREAM Act for young people and at least some form of legal status (albeit without a path to citizenship) for other undocumented immigrants. But that hope was quickly extinguished when Boehner announced last week that reform wasn't likely to go anywhere this year.

"I'm one of those people who has been perpetually optimistic about this—that we were going to get something done because of the political realities and because it was the right thing to do," Grijalva said. "But the cynicism is creeping in because this has been a manipulated issue on the part of the Republicans, almost cruelly toying with the determination on the part of a lot of us to get something done, and cruelly toying with those of us who have to endure seeing families in our districts facing separations and deportations. I think the excuse that they can't trust the president is outright preposterous."

BRAWLING BARRISTERS

Democrat Felecia Rotellini rolled through Tucson last week as part of a statewide barnstorming tour to formally kick off her campaign for attorney general this year.

Rotellini, who narrowly lost to Attorney General Tom Horne in 2010, promised to "restore a sense of decency and a sense of public trust" to the office.

Rotellini told the crowd at Hotel Congress that she would bring an end to Horne's efforts to sue community colleges that are offering in-state tuition to undocumented youth who have applied for the Obama administration's deferred-action program and his appeals of state anti-abortion laws that have been struck down by the federal courts.

"A new beginning at the Attorney General's Office means we're going to stop politically harassing DREAMers," Rotellini said. "A new beginning at the Attorney General's Office means an attorney general who will promote and empower women, who will promote equal pay, and who will protect the right to choose safe, healthy, reproductive health."

Rotellini, who worked as a prosecutor under Republican and Democratic AGs, said that under Horne's leadership, the office has become "mired in politics."

"I'm going to be very blunt here," she said. "That office is run by people who know very little about fighting crime and they know a whole lot about taking every case and every opportunity, and using it to push their political agenda and push their ideology, and that's got to stop."

Democrats see Rotellini—who has tapped 2010 primary rival Vince Rabago as her Pima County campaign chairman and Sheriff Clarence Dupnik and County Attorney Barbara LaWall as honorary co-chairs—as one of their most formidable candidates this year. Voters have supported Democrats in the AG's position in the past; Janet Napolitano held the post for four years from 1998 to 2002 and Terry Goddard served two terms from 2002 to 2010.

And Rotellini has raised an impressive amount of money. By the end of 2013, she had pulled in more than $563,610 and campaign manager Luis Heredia told The Skinny last week that Team Rotellini expects to raise $1.5 million by the time Election Day rolls around.

Rotellini's 2013 haul is way more than the $301,689 that Horne had raised—and to get that much in the bank, the AG had to borrow $100,000 from his sister.

Horne was back in the headlines this week as an administrative judge hears testimony as to whether Horne colluded with an independent campaign effort that poured a half-million bucks into attack ads against Rotellini that aired in the closing weeks of the 2010 election.

Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk determined, after studying phone and email records, that Horne had been working with the chairwoman of the independent campaign to develop the campaign's message. She ordered Horne to pay $400,000 to make the campaign books right. (We'll spare you the details, as space is tight.) Horne has denied the allegations, which led to this week's court hearing.

Horne may prevail in the courtroom, but the political fallout has included headlines about his alleged affair with a subordinate in the AG's office that was exposed as a result of a hit-and-run accident in a parking garage.

"We've been reading about the findings of law enforcement of the violation of election laws," Rotellini said. "We've been reading the scandals in the office—the cronyism, the political partisanship, and the embarrassments—and all that does is make me double down on my determination to win this race and take back that office and return its integrity and public trust."

But for Rotellini to face Horne in November, he first has to get past his Republican challenger, Mark Brnovich, a former county, state and federal prosecutor who wants to take Horne out in the August primary.

Brnovich is running an aggressive campaign against Horne, calling out the incumbent for his various scandals.

"Do you want an attorney general who has worked with law enforcement to investigate criminal activity or one who has been investigated for criminal activity?" Brnovich rhetorically asked during a recent conversation with The Skinny.

But Brnovich hasn't set the world on fire with his fundraising. As of the end of 2013, he'd raised only $51,343.

Brnovich's lousy fundraising numbers led Team Horne to send out a press release calling on Brnovich to drop out of the race.

Fife Symington, the former Arizona governor who had his own problems with federal prosecutors over his financial maneuvers, said that Horne's "sizable financial advantage" demonstrated that "Brnovich is not a viable candidate and should get out of the race. His continued presence will only aid the Democrat in the general election."

A NEW SHERIFF IN TOWN?

While he was introducing Felicia Rotellini during her campaign kick-off here in Tucson, Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik made a point of also introducing the crowd to his new chief deputy, Chris Nanos.

"I've been without a chief deputy because no one wanted to work for me for 10 years," Dupnik joked.

But Dupnik had another reason for putting Nanos in place: He needs an heir apparent because he's probably run his final campaign.

"I am 78 and my wife says she is sick of me running for another term," Dupnik said. "I told some people, when they start calling me Strom Thurmond, I'm going to have to think about my future. I know I'm not going to be around much longer. They're already starting to call me 'Strom.'"

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