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Silent Treatment

We're revoking our endorsement of Steve Huffman

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Republican Steve Huffman has a question to answer as he campaigns in Congressional District 8: Did he ever discuss the HellOnToni.com Web site with his longtime political pal--and campaign treasurer--Bill Arnold?

This is an important question, now that state Sen. Toni Hellon has filed a lawsuit alleging that Arnold, a longtime property-rights activist and real-estate mover and shaker, was the mysterious man creeping around her home and taking pictures that ended up posted on HellOnToni.com, where Hellon was accused of misusing campaign funds to remodel her home. (Hellon maintains that the makeover was related to her home office.)

Arnold quit the campaign the same day Hellon filed her lawsuit, saying the charges were "politically motivated and baseless." And Huffman has released a statement saying that he and his congressional campaign had nothing to do with the entire episode.

But Huffman has been stone-cold silent about the episode otherwise. Last week, when Weekly reporter Saxon Burns attempted to find out precisely what Huffman knew, and when he knew it, the Huffman campaign simply refused to return phone calls.

It's a deafening silence that only makes us more curious. After all, Arnold and Huffman have been tight political allies for at least eight years, since Huffman was first elected to the state House of Representatives.

Ask yourself: If you noticed a Web site of this nature regarding a fellow lawmaker (and the ex-wife of one of your opponents) from your own district, wouldn't you mention it to one of your closest political pals? Of course you would. And what we want to know is simple: What was said in that conversation?

But we don't know, because Arnold and Huffman are unwilling to answer the question.

Huffman's stonewalling is particularly ironic when you consider that it took him no time at all to jump all over primary opponent Randy Graf when news broke this summer that his then-campaign manager, Steve Aiken, had been convicted in the mid-'90s of corrupting the morals of two teenage girls who accused him of seducing them while they were in his Christian counseling program.

Huffman demanded to know what kind of investigation the Graf campaign had done into Aiken's background. And Graf, to his credit, has discussed the Aiken scandal with us and other members of the media.

So why is Huffman hiding from the press now? We don't know, but it's a reasonable question for us--and for voters--to ask.

And because Huffman won't answer it, we have no choice but to revoke our endorsement of him in the Congressional District 8 race. We still appreciate Huffman's moderate pro-choice positions; we appreciate how he championed our local half-cent sales tax; we're glad that until this year, he resisted the urge to score cheap political points by giving in to the border hysteria that gripped so many of his fellow Republicans at the Legislature.

But we cannot give our stamp of approval to a candidate who ducks the media when faced with tough questions.

So we leave it up to CD8 Republicans to make their own pick when they cast ballots next week.

We stand by our other endorsements: Gabrielle Giffords, who has a solid record of supporting education funding, environmental protection, health care expansion and other issues we care about, is our choice in the CD8 Democratic primary.

We have no endorsement in the Congressional District 7 Republican primary. Ron Drake is a far better candidate than Joe Sweeney, but he should have had the fortitude to debate Sweeney head-on instead of dodging him.

We're endorsing Gary Tupper in the GOP primary, because he rejects the social conservatism embraced by fellow candidates Don Goldwater and Len Munsil, and he's not a jerk like Mike Harris.

We favor Slade Mead in the Democratic primary for superintendent of public instruction, because we admire his record in the Arizona Legislature.

In the legislative races:

We like Jennifer Burns and Roger Condra in the Legislative District 25 House Republican primary, mostly because we don't like Gail Griffin's conservatism.

We like the experience of Pete Hershberger and Carol Somers in the LD 26 House GOP primary. We like Toni Hellon in the LD 26 Senate race, because she has stood up to Maricopa lawmakers, whereas her opponent, Al Melvin, would roll over for them.

In the Democratic House primary in LD 28, we endorse David Bradley, because he's done a good job in his first two terms, and Steve Farley, because we're impressed with his energy and his ideas. In the LD 28 Senate Democratic primary, we're going with Ted Downing over Paula Aboud.

We endorsed the incumbents, Linda Lopez and Tom Prezelski, in the Democratic primary for the two LD 29 House seats, because they've done a good job in office.

And finally, we endorsed incumbent Republicans Jonathan Paton and Marian McClure in the GOP primary in LD 30, because they've done a fine job for their Southern Arizona constituents, and their opponents, David Gowan and Frank Callegari, are full of just plain dumb ideas.

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