Both state party chairman Bob Fannin and Pima County chairman John Munger reached the top by climbing the money tree. Both are professional lobbyists with a knack for generating contributions and a commensurate lack of interest in issues besides those that matter to their clients. Their real problem, it would appear, is they do a lousy job of spending that money after it's raised.
The GOP has long been a coalition of those worker types who actually care about stuff like abortion, gun control, the size of government and taxes. Their allies in the "business community" could care less about social and other agendas and are often downright hostile to portions of it. They simply want "a business-friendly climate," which usually translates to somebody else paying the taxes for as many subsidies as they can grab. (In fairness, Democrats have this problem too.)
But the last election has pushed both Fannin and Munger to the edge of being dumped by their own troops. They blew the governor's race, with some help from the Salmon campaign itself, while they dumped on a variety of other candidates for lesser offices--some of whom, like Jennifer Burns in District 25, won anyway.
January will tell. We wish the rebels luck. Lobbyists have too much juice now and have converted both parties to simple vehicles for soft money. And having guys who represent monied interests deciding which candidates get campaign help strikes us as way to much leverage at the statehouse. Making lobbyists party leaders is further reduces the viability of the American party system.
GRIJALVA SHOOTS BLANKS: Those pesky nerds at the Federal Elections Commission are sure trying to put a damper on the euphoria flowing from A Whole Lot Of People For Grijalva For Congress. They keep picking on the Congressman-elect and his campaign accountants for their failure to follow election law with the glaring lack of information about donors to Raúl Grijalva's $436,000 campaign account.
We thought it was just us when Grijalva's crew, with some of the best minds in Arizona politics, couldn't figure out the money behind the money flowing into his campaign. Left blank from scores of donors was occupation and employer. Details, schmetails! It was easy enough to spot, as previously noted, when big shots like Rich Dozer, president of the Arizona Diamonbacks, gave $250 to Raúlito in July, but the Grijalva campaign was left to report to the FEC that it was "requesting" Dozer's employment data.
Damon M. Galose, a campaign analyst for the FEC, sent a note to the Grijalva camp on Sept. 27 requesting that those numerous holes in Grijalva's finance reports be plugged. Galose was forced to send another letter on October 22, reminding the Grijalvaistas that "your report discloses contributions from individuals for which identification is not complete."
Federal reports are a lot more complicated than the slop Grijalva and his former colleagues on the Board of Supervisors can turn in to Pima County. Indeed, each of Grijalva's main rivals--six, not counting the delusional Sherry Smith--in the Democratic primary in District 7 got love letters from the FEC requesting more information on everything from loans and interest to expenses.
But don't bother Grijalva! He's going to Congress.
John Gibson, the assistant staff director for the report analysis division of the FEC, had to step in with his own letter on Nov. 13 to Tom Chandler, the aging but eerily powerful Tucson lawyer who serves as the Grijalva campaign treasurer.
Gibson ordered an "adequate response" by December 4 to force Grijalva to provide "information essential to full public disclosure" of the campaign finances and to "ensure compliance with the Federal Elections Campaign Act."
Time extensions for necessary amended reports, including how personal funds and so-called loans were used, won't be granted, Gibson told Chandler. An audit could be ordered.
But, hey, Grijalva worry? Nah. In Chandler, he's got one of the best in the business. Chandler, after all, was once in Joe Bonanno's stable, helping the late capo beat another pesky effort by the United States--deportation.
BAD BET: Dr. Mark Osterloh, bouncing back from his 40-percentage-point loss to Janet Napolitano in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, has a new prescription for improving democracy: Every person who casts a vote in an election becomes eligible to win a big cash prize in a lottery.
Osterloh has helped with initiative campaigns to create expanded health care programs, publicly financed campaigns (he himself grabbed more than $400K for his goober run) and independent redistricting (that worked sooo well in creating competitive districts). He floated his latest brainstorm in a recent op-ed in the morning daily.
Osterloh is under the impression that all these newcomers to the democratic process will "cast thoughtful votes after carefully evaluating the candidates and the issues." Sorry, but given that a lot of current voters--excluding our readers, of course!--don't pay all that much attention to the candidates, we really doubt all these new voters, motivated purely by the hope that they'll win a jackpot, are gonna sit down and carefully weigh the issues. The notion strikes us as frankly preposterous.
If people can't recognize their own self-interest in a healthy democracy, we don't need to bribe 'em--with lousy odds, by the way--to come to the polls. It's not that hard to participate in the electoral system: you just need to fill out a form. You don't even need to get off the couch on election day because you can get a ballot sent straight to the house, fer chrissakes.
If people are too lazy to do that, they're too lazy to pay attention to the campaigns. Frankly, it's a good winnowing process. We sure don't want more desperate dumbasses randomly marking bubbles on the ballot like kids trying to pass the AIMS test because they hope it's their ticket to a fortune.
SHEDDING HIS SKIN: Good-buy baseball manager Tom Spencer is headed to Memphis to manage the Redbirds, the popular and successful AAA affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. Spencer managed the Tucson Sidewinders until he was replaced, before for the 2002 season, by Al Pedrique.
Spencer will have a lot less of the blues in Memphis. The team rocks, drawing more than 11,000 fans per game. A good night at the Sidewinders is about a fourth of that. Spencer has managed in the top level of the minor leagues for 10 years.
There's another reason we like Spencer. He is married to Linda Castro, daughter of Carol and Rudy "Coach" Castro, the legendary Tucson High athlete, former Cholla High coach, former City Councilman and member of the Pima County Sports Hall of Fame.
ALL MITCH, ALL THE TIME: Fans of Arizona Daily Star reporter Mitch Tobin can rejoice! He's finally unveiled mitchtobin.com. Check out "My Travels" to read Mitch's gripping account of his trip to Super Bowl XXXV with his dad. Scan his 6,500-mile trip through the West. Click on the fascinating stories Mitch has written for the Star, Citizen and other rags. In his special Cycling in Southern Arizona, Mitch warns: "Believe me, you don't want to be biking on an asphalt road at noon, in July. Tires have been known to melt into a gooey rubber mess." Ooo, Mitch!