At last week’s Pima County Republican Club luncheon, Republican National Committeeman Bruce Ash was explaining why he is supporting Pima County Supervisor Ray Carroll over challenger Sean Collins in next week’s Republican primary.
“I don’t agree with Ray on everything, but he’s accessible,” said Ash, who praised Carroll’s record of providing constituent service, opposing county sales taxes and voting against Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry’s budgets. “This guy is best for the job.”
Ash is so upset by what he calls the “unsubstantiated accusations and scurrilous innuendo” coming from Team Collins that he took the unusual step of getting involved in a GOP primary—and even cut a radio ad to condemn the campaign against Carroll.
“There are a few people who have been up to no good in this election,” Ash said in the ad. “It’s not OK to make stuff up, and the crew that’s helping wannabe supervisor candidate Sean Collins have been purposely trying to mislead us.”
Ash took aim at ArizonaDailyIndependent.com (a relatively new blog that has made a variety of unattributed accusations against Carroll in recent weeks), as well as KNST AM 790/FM 97.1 morning-radio talk-show host Garret Lewis, and former state-lawmaker Randy Graf, who is one of Collins’ chief political supporters.
“Randy is throwing out a load of B.S. for Collins, no matter if it has any truth or not,” Ash said in the radio spot. “How many in Pima County would want Randy Graf being a ventriloquist for any supervisor?”
The ad has some Republicans hopping mad. As Ash was taking a moment at the meeting to talk about the race, he was interrupted by GOP activist Joyce Martin.
“I just wanted to say this to your face,” Martin exclaimed. “That was the nastiest ad I have ever in my life heard of.”
Ash gave Martin a smile and wished her a good day as she and a friend promised they’d exact their revenge the next time that Ash sought the post of national committeeman. It was yet another flashpoint in a campaign that has slid deeper into mudslinging as the primary election draws near.
On Team Carroll, you have Ash, political consultant/radio talk-show host Emil Franzi, Second Amendment enthusiast Ken Rineer, the ASARCO mining company, the Southern Arizona Home Builders Association and the Tucson Association of Realtors. On Team Collins, you have Graf, ArizonaDailyIndependent.com’s Loretta Hunnicutt, attorney John Munger, the Rosemont Mine, and the mine’s flunky, unsuccessful mayoral candidate Rick Grinnell.
But if the Republican Club luncheon is any indication, Carroll has far more support than Collins. When Collins spoke to the group, the back room at El Parador was half-full; when Carroll took the stage last Tuesday, Aug. 14, it was hard to find an empty seat.
While Carroll’s opposition to the Rosemont Mine is a major issue in the race, the contest has also turned on whether Carroll is a secret liberal—a charge that Ash dismisses as “preposterous.”
Ash’s support of Carroll has some Republicans now calling him a Republican In Name Only. Ash wishes “good luck” to those who want to make that RINO charge stick.
“I hate the whole thing about RINOs,” Ash says. “Ray is a guy who has stood for smaller government, lower taxes and Second Amendment rights.”
You'll find an in-depth look at the race here.