by Saxon Burns
The mood at the last night's Republican Party bash at the Radisson Hotel, 6555 E. Speedway Blvd., was positive but subdued as voters rejected numerous Arizona GOP candidates—including high-profle Congressional District 8 hopeful Randy Graf.
Julee Dawson, a Republican Party fundraiser, attributed Graf's loss to a bruising primary that robbed him of an opporunity to define himself.
"The thing that I wish I could convey to people is that Randy Graf is a really good man," she said. "The people who say the things that they say about him just don't know Randy. He's really a human being of substance and quality."
Graf shook hands and chatted amiably with supporters, soldiering on with a broad smile even as the negative results rumbled in.
"I really think that Randy would make a better congressman than Gabrielle," said Agnes Hannley, vice president of Tucson Republican Women. "I just feel like Gabrielle is kind of a lightweight."
The man currently holding the CD8 seat, Republican Jim Kolbe, shook hands with Graf and congratulated him on a "tough, issues-oriented campaign." Graf mounted a significant challenge to the congressman in the GOP primary two years prior. Kolbe had refused to endorse Graf in this election cycle.
Judi White, chairwoman of the Pima County Republican Party, said she wished things had gone differently for Graf. Still, she admitted Giffords had run a well-organized and spirited campaign.
"Gabby had a lot of money real quick," White said. "She left the position that she had; she was right there, and she started to run.
"I'll tell ya, though, nobody's worked any harder than Randy Graf."