Tucson City Councilman Steve Kozachik drew a big crowd to his reelection kickoff party at Borderlands Brewing last week.
Kozachik had planned to have a one-of-a-kind appearance from all the city's mayors dating back to 1987, but unfortunately, both George Miller and Bob Walkup weren't able to make it to the party. Campaign co-chair Carol West, a former councilwoman who left office as an independent, read a statement from former mayor George Miller, while Bob Walkup's wife, Beth Walkup, read a statement from her husband.
But it was current Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild who may have had the quote of the night as he discussed Kozachik's switch from a Republican to a Democrat earlier this year.
"I do want to address this little D and R thing," Rothschild said. "I know this from my own experience, and I don't want anyone to take this the wrong way ... but I think we all know, when someone comes out in your family, the family already knows. And in this case, we knew."
When Kozachik addressed the crowd, he promised a fierce campaign against any challengers as he talked about the various endorsements he's picked up so far.
"My purpose in coming out really hard and really aggressively is to say: Bring it on if you want to," Kozachik said. "It's going to be a waste of your time and a waste of your money. We've got some good things going and we're not going to let up."
Kozachik, who is seeking a second term in midtown Ward 6, continued rolling out the endorsements earlier this week, announcing the support of Congressman Ron Barber.
"Steve works tirelessly to ensure a strong future for Tucson by investing in infrastructure and economic development," Barber said in a prepared statement. "He does his homework and digs into issues facing the City Council to come up with common-sense solutions."
While Barber's endorsement might not have been a big surprise, Kozachik picked up a big supporter in Republican Jim Kolbe, who represented Southern Arizona for 11 terms before retiring in 2006.
"Steve Kozachik has demonstrated an ability as a Tucson City Councilman to build bridges across party and ideology gaps to find practical solutions for our community," Kolbe said in a statement. "He studies the issues, asks tough questions, and listens to all sides before making a decision that is in the best interest of the entire community. For too long, Tucson has been divided along meaningless partisan lines. The kind of leadership Steve Kozachik is providing on the Council is what is needed if Tucson is to move forward, to provide jobs for the next generation of Tucsonans, and maintain the quality of life that makes our city unique."
Kozachik said he was pleased to have the endorsement of both men.
"These people understand that this isn't about partisanship, it's about governance," Kozachik told The Skinny. "Those kind of people wouldn't be supporting me if they didn't feel that I was willing to make decisions based on facts and data and not on some rigid ideology."
Kozachik has yet to draw an opponent in the race.
IN THE TOILET
The Arizona Legislature reached new heights in lunacy last week with the introduction of what Phoenix TV reporter Brahm Resnik dubbed the "Show Me Your Papers Before You Pee Act."
Rep. John Kavanagh offered a strike-all amendment to SB 1432, changing a bill about the massage therapy board into legislation that would have made it a misdemeanor offense to use the ladies' room if you were born a man or to use the men's room if you were born a woman.
Kavanagh was inspired by a non-discrimination ordinance passed by the city of Phoenix that would have protected the rights of transsexuals to use the bathroom. Cathy Herrod of the Christian-conservative Center for Arizona Policy opposed the Phoenix ordinance and, when she didn't win, promptly went to state lawmakers to undo what the Phoenix City Council had done.
Kavanagh, who does as he's told by Herrod, introduced his striker, but after realizing he was once again luring the Daily Show to Arizona, backed off the proposal.
Instead, he's told the press he will change the legislation to provide business owners with legal protections against being sued if they decide to prevent a transsexual from using the wrong bathroom.
While the bathroom bill got a lot of attention last week, Gov. Jan Brewer's Medicaid bill got its first hearing in Kavanagh's House Appropriations Committee.
The informational hearing—there's no actual bill yet to consider regarding Brewer's plan to expand Medicaid to allow anyone up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level to get care under the state's AHCCCS program—last several hours.
But the biggest headline coming out of the meeting was an overstep by Maricopa County Republican Party Chairman A.J. LaFaro, who is among the GOP activists who oppose the expansion.
"Jesus had Judas and Republicans have Gov. Brewer," said LaFaro, who was swiftly condemned by Republican lawmakers and members of the business community. House Speaker Andy Tobin tweeted that the comment was inappropriate and called for LaFaro's resignation. Rep. Rick Gray tweeted that LaFaro doesn't speak for him. Glen Hamer, president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, blogged that LaFaro "needs to be consigned to the kiddie table."
LaFaro offered a half-hearted apology, but the incident shows just how divided the GOP now is over Brewer's proposed expansion. We're hearing that lawmakers are settling in for a long session—perhaps running into July—as Brewer prepares to start vetoing bills until she gets her expansion in an effort to wear down lawmakers who oppose her Medicaid proposal.
Meanwhile, a number of the other bills we've been following this session are on the move:
• SB 1493, which would allow Arizonans to mint their own coins from silver and gold to be used as legal tender from any shopkeeper who will accept them, passed the Senate Rules Committee on Monday, March 25, and will now go to a vote of the full Senate.
• SB 1403, which would forbid the state from engaging in conservation and sustainability programs because of fears that such programs are part of a plot by UN globalists to take away private-property rights and degrade our precious bodily fluids, passed the Senate on a 16-13 vote on Thursday, March 21.
• HB 2147, which would make it easier for the state to block out-of-work Arizonans from receiving unemployment benefits, passed the Senate on Thursday, March 21, but it was amended from the House version of the bill, so the differences will have to be worked out in a conference committee between the chambers before it can be sent to the governor for a signature.
• HB 2455, which would ban gun buybacks by cities and towns, passed the Senate Rules Committee on Monday, March 25, and is now ready for a vote of the full Senate. The bill has already passed the House.
• SCR 1006, which throws up various roadblocks for organizers of initiative and referendum drives, passed the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday, March 21. The resolution has already passed the Senate, so if it passes the full house, it will be on the 2014 ballot for voters to decide.
• HRC 2026, which would effectively end publicly funded campaigns in Arizona by transferring all the money raised for the state's Clean Elections program to the schools, passed the Senate Elections Committee on Tuesday, March 19. If it passes the full Senate, it will also be on the 2014 ballot for voters to decide.
We've got more updates on bills on The Range, the Weekly's daily dispatch at daily.tucsonweekly.com.