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Legislative District 11
Sen. Al Melvin is running for re-election, although he refused to talk about it with the Weekly.
"In all good conscience, I can't be a part of the Tucson Weekly. I just can't," said Melvin, who once stormed out of an Oro Valley diner when he discovered the Weekly was available to customers. "Your paper, the (Arizona Daily) Star and (The Arizona) Republic are in the tank for the left; you're propaganda outlets for the Democratic Party."
His Democratic opponent, Jo Holt, a retired research biochemist who worked at the University of Arizona, said that's part of the reason she has been urged to run for office: Melvin blows off anyone with whom he disagrees.
"My way of thinking about talking to the press and talking to constituents is 180 degrees different," she said. "When I'm senator, I'll represent everyone. Even people who disagree with me, I will listen to them. Sen. Melvin does the opposite."
Holt, who is running her first campaign for public office, will face an uphill battle in this heavily Republican district that runs from Marana and Oro Valley up to Casa Grande and the city of Maricopa, roughly following Interstate 10.
Libertarian Kim Allen is also in the race.
In order to avoid a primary battle with Melvin, Sen. Steve Smith, a border hawk from Maricopa who has garnered national attention for his bills to require hospitals and schools to track and report illegal immigrants, and to drug-test the unemployed, is stepping down from the Senate and running for the House of Representatives.
Completing the Republican ticket is first-time candidate Adam Kwasman, who managed Jesse Kelly's failed 2010 congressional campaign and has already picked up endorsements from the likes of House Speaker Andy Tobin, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and U.S. Rep. Trent Franks.
Kwasman described himself as a Tea Party champion who decided to run for office because of his passion for limited government.
The two will face Democrat David Joseph, a media entrepreneur and owner of several TV stations, who said Melvin and Smith are slaves to their ideology, and are taking the state in the wrong direction.
Joseph acknowledged his voter-registration disadvantage, but said he hoped that the far-right group of Republicans would turn off enough moderate voters to put him over the top.
"There's a lot of frustration, a lot of people who are disenfranchised, who feel like the (lawmakers) who are up there said they were about creating jobs, and then did all this other stuff that doesn't create jobs," Joseph said. "What they're doing has more to do with ideology than with real fiscal responsibility."
Legislative District 14
Republican Sen. Gail Griffin, a real-estate broker from Hereford who was elected to the Senate in 2010 after having served in the House from 1997 to 2001, will square off against former Democratic Rep. Pat Fleming, who was elected to the House in 2008, but lost her seat in the Republican wave of 2010.
Despite the fact that Griffin is the de facto incumbent in a very conservative district, Fleming points out that when the two went head to head in 2006, voters preferred her, though neither won in that round. She also boasts that she had her signatures to run for the office ready in February, and has already qualified for Clean Elections funding.
"The people who I talk to, the ones who are really paying attention, are very disappointed in the Legislature," she said. "People are not happy about giving big corporations tax breaks and making middle-class families pay for it."
LD 14 covers the southeast corner of the state, including a section of the Arizona-Mexico border and the towns of Sierra Vista, Vail, Willcox and Safford. Republicans have a 10-point lead over Democrats in voter registration.
Incumbent Reps. David Stevens and David Gowan from Sierra Vista are fighting off attacks from two Democratic precinct committeemen who are making their first runs for office: Robert Leach, who retired from the military and works at Fort Huachuca as an intelligence contractor, and Mark Holub Stonebraker, a computer scientist who used to develop software at Fort Huachuca.
Stonebraker said he decided to challenge the representatives because he dislikes the economic and social policies the incumbents are pushing.
"You can look at their voting record and legislation they've introduced, and very little of it has to do with improving the economic situation in our state," Stonebraker said.
Gowan and Stevens were both elected in 2008 and are trying to hold their seats by defending their record of balancing the state budget in tough times and fighting illegal immigration. Even with the numbers heavily in their favor, Stevens said the two are campaigning hard.
"You either run scared or run unopposed; I mean, anything could happen," Stevens said. "But I'm feeling better than I did two years ago. We're going to maintain."
Arizona Corporation Commission
The last of the Democrats holding statewide office serve on the Arizona Corporation Commission, a five-member body that has the job of regulating Arizona businesses and utilities, including deciding on rate hikes.
Commissioners Paul Newman and Sandra Kennedy are both are up for re-election this year. Democrat Marcia Busching, a political newcomer, is the third Democrat in the race for three seats.
On the GOP side, incumbent Republican Bob Stump is joined by Bob Burns, a former Arizona Senate president, and lobbyist and former congressional candidate Susan Bitter Smith.