The political season is officially underway.
Considering all of the debates, TV ads and accusations that have been flying around in recent months, you might have thought that it had started long ago. But it was just last week that candidates faced the deadline to file for the Aug. 24 primary ballot, in the hopes of moving on to the Nov. 2 general election.
This year, voters will be deciding whether to send Sen. John McCain back to Washington, D.C. In Congressional District 8, they'll decide if Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords deserves another term. They'll be picking a governor, a new attorney general, and most of the other statewide offices. And they'll be serving judgment on the Arizona Legislature.
And we'll be there to let you know all about it, in the pages of the Tucson Weekly and on The Range, our daily dispatch.
Arizona Sen. John McCain is facing a serious primary challenger: Republican J.D. Hayworth, a former congressman and radio talk-show host who calls himself the "consistent conservative."
When he formally kicked off his campaign in February, the bombastic Hayworth cast himself as the champion of the insurgent Tea Party revolution, calling the campaign "a classic political confrontation: John McCain and the Washington establishment on one side, and we the people on the other."
Hayworth has dinged McCain on everything from being soft on border security to opposing drilling in the Arctic. He's even complained that "just like the liberals, John opposes waterboarding captured terrorists like the Christmas bomber."
Hayworth's attacks have forced McCain to move to the right on nearly every issue in an effort to reinvent himself; earlier this year, he went so far as to declare: "I never considered myself a maverick."
McCain has hit back by ridiculing Hayworth as a birther and hammering him as a pork-barrel spender. Most recently, his campaign released an ad mocking Hayworth for incorrectly telling a crowd that the United States never declared war on Germany during World War II.
Most polls have shown McCain holding a double-digit lead over Hayworth, although they've also shown that Arizona's senior senator is the choice of only about half of the Republicans surveyed.
Republican Jim Deakin, a little-known political newcomer, is also in the GOP race.
The lively primary has a number of Democrats lining up to take on the GOP primary winner. The best-funded is Rodney Glassman, who gave up his seat on the Tucson City Council earlier this year to run. Glassman has lined up a number of high-profile endorsements, including support from Congressman Raúl Grijalva, labor activist Dolores Huerta and the Arizona AFL-CIO, and he's raised a quarter-million dollars—which he's matched with a quarter-million from his own wallet, according to the Glassman campaign.
"For over 28 years, John McCain has been ignoring Arizona," Glassman says. "We need a representative in the U.S. Senate who's committed to working for Arizona's future."
Three latecomers have spoiled Glassman's hope of avoiding a primary fight. Investigative reporter John Dougherty, who worked more than a decade for the Phoenix New Times, promises to run an aggressive, albeit low-budget campaign that challenges the entire political status quo.
"Part of our theme is accountability now," Dougherty says. "Nobody is holding these guys accountable, and it's just going to turn into platitudes and B.S. without really talking about the situation that we're facing. We've got the police state; we've got a militarized border; we've got a war on drugs; we've got all this stuff that no one is bringing into the debate. But we will."
Randy Parraz, a California native who attended the University of California at Berkeley's law school and Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, has been working as a labor organizer with immigrant workers in Maricopa County for about five years.
Parraz says he was approached by a variety of activists in recent months who encouraged him to run for the U.S. Senate.
"They want someone who is really strong on the issues and can push a more progressive voice," Parraz says, "someone who has a history of being able to fight for social change and make things happen."
Former state lawmaker Cathy Eden rounds out the Democratic field. Eden, who served in the Arizona House of Representatives from 1990 to 1994, managed several state departments, including the Department of Health Services under Govs. Jane Dee Hull and Janet Napolitano.
Green Party candidate Jerry Joslyn and Libertarian David Nolan will appear on the general-election ballot. Nolan, who ran for Congress in District 8 in 2006, helped found the Libertarian Party in 1971.
The marquee race in Southern Arizona promises to be in Congressional District 8, where Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords has to overcome an anti-incumbent mood to hang on to her seat in a district where Republicans outnumber Democrats—but independents make up nearly three out of every 10 registered voters.
Five Republicans have lined up to challenge Giffords. Jonathan Paton, who gave up his seat in the state Senate to challenge Giffords, has emerged as the establishment candidate, picking up support—and contributions—from local business leaders such as auto dealer Jim Click and legendary land speculator Don Diamond. In the first quarter of 2010, Paton was able to raise more than a half-million dollars from more than 1,000 donors.
He'll need all that and more. In the same reporting period, Giffords reported raising nearly $490,000—and had nearly $2 million in the bank as of March 31.
Paton complains that Giffords has portrayed herself as a Blue Dog moderate, but voted for the Democrats' health-care reform package, a cap-and-trade measure to reduce greenhouse emissions and the stimulus plan.
"I'm running for Congress because I don't understand why we would support a government right now that is forcing you to pay payroll taxes for something that you will never actually see," Paton recently told a group of College Republicans at the University of Arizona. "If you're a young person right now, you're never going to realize a lot of the things that you are paying for at the moment. Why would we want to be supporting an agenda with a president who is regulating the freedoms that your fathers or your grandfathers or your grandmothers fought for? ... They're stealing your birthright."
A fierce defender of Arizona's new immigration law, SB 1070, Paton vows that he would not request earmarks for Southern Arizona and promises to repeal the Democratic health-care reform plan.
Paton is facing a tough challenge from Jesse Kelly, a Marine vet who served in the Iraq war and who now works for his father's construction business. Kelly says he got into the race because "I love my country, and I don't like the direction it's going in the very least. ... This president and this Congress and this Senate have taken over, and they are expanding government. They're expanding spending; they're going to raise taxes; they want to tell you what kind of light bulbs you can keep in your house and what kind of health care you have to buy, and that's simply not America."
Kelly, who has been endorsed by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, is positioning himself as the political outsider in the race. He's called for "the demise of big-government Republicans" and allied himself with J.D. Hayworth, the firebrand conservative who is challenging U.S. Sen. John McCain.
For a political newcomer, he's done well with fundraising, bringing in $367,000 as of March 31.
Brian Miller, an Air Force veteran who still flies A-10s as a member of the Air Force Reserve, hails from the Ron Paul wing of the Republican Party.
"I love the idea of human freedom," Miller says. "I love the ideas that are enshrined in our Constitution. I love the idea of American enterprise."
Miller argues that government has expanded much too far. Not only does he want to repeal the health-care reform package passed by Democrats earlier this year; he'd like to eliminate federal welfare programs, wean people off of Social Security and scrap Medicare for future recipients.
He also argues that the United States should withdraw troops from Afghanistan, putting him at odds with Paton and Kelly.
Andy Goss, an Army veteran who has proposed that members of Congress live in barracks on the Arizona-Mexico border, promises to "be the blunt instrument that is required for these times."
An unexpected entry into the race was Jay Quick, who received 2 percent of the vote running as an independent in 2006. Quick has been such a stealth candidate that even the other Republicans in the race didn't realize he was running until he filed his paperwork last week.
Libertarian Steven Stoltz will also be on the November ballot.
When Republican Jan Brewer inherited the governor's office after Democrat Janet Napolitano resigned to take the post of secretary of homeland security, Brewer faced the worst fiscal crisis in Arizona's history: a multi-billion-dollar budget shortfall that had the state on the edge of financial collapse.
The legislative action since then hasn't been pretty to watch, as Brewer and GOP lawmakers have cut more than a billion dollars in annual spending from the state budget. They've pushed Arizona to the right by passing new laws that restrict abortion, loosen gun regulations and target illegal immigrants.
Brewer also led a tough but successful fight to persuade voters to pass a temporary, one-cent-per-dollar sales-tax increase to bring in more revenue to the state.
That tax hike has her three main opponents in the GOP primary complaining that Brewer raised taxes instead of pushing for more cuts in spending.
Brewer's best-funded opponent is Buz Mills, who made a fortune in the telecommunications industry and now owns a shooting range in Yavapai County.
A political unknown, Mills first made headlines in January when he announced he'd put more than $2 million of his own money into his gubernatorial campaign. That money has been spent on television ads that have boosted his image as a tough-talking, no-nonsense conservative who has no compunction about cutting government services across the board.
But all of that spending may end up helping Brewer, because last month, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Arizona's Clean Elections program could continue to provide matching funds to participating candidates.
That means Brewer is eligible for a dollar-for-dollar match of the money that Mills spends (up to a certain amount), which could give her more than $2 million for her primary campaign.
State Treasurer Dean Martin may also be eligible for the funds, but he'll have to qualify for Clean Elections first. Martin, a former state lawmaker who is finishing his first term as treasurer, has experience in running a statewide race, but is making a slow start out of the box.
Tucson Attorney John Munger, a former member of the Arizona Board of Regents who has served as chair of both the Arizona Republican Party and the Pima County Republican Party, had filed to run, but quit the race this week, citing the court decision to leave Clean Elections funding in place.
"Given the virtual impossibility of raising the necessary funds to compete against taxpayer-funded campaigns under this scenario, I have no choice but to officially withdraw from the race for governor," Munger said in a statement.
The polls had shown a tight race between Brewer and her opponents until she signed Arizona's controversial immigration law, SB 1070. Since then, surveys by the right-leaning Rasmussen Reports and left-leaning Public Policy Polling and Research 2000 have shown Brewer with a lead of roughly 20 percentage points over Mills and Martin, with Munger in a distant fourth place.
Lesser-known Republican candidates include Matthew Jette and Tom Gordon.
The winner of the GOP primary will face Democrat Terry Goddard, who is finishing his second term as Arizona attorney general. Goddard previously ran for governor in 1990, when he lost the general election to Republican Fife Symington, and 1994, when he lost a primary fight to Democrat Eddie Basha.
The winner of a four-way primary between Libertarian candidates Ronald Cavanaugh, Barry Hess, Bruce Olsen and Alvin Ray Yount will also be on the November ballot, as will Green Party candidate Larry Gist.
Democrat Raúl Grijalva has no primary challenge in this heavily Democratic district, but there is no shortage of Republicans who want to take him on. Perennial candidate Joe Sweeney is back, along with political newcomers Ruth McClung, Christopher Flowers, Terry Myers and Robert Wilson.
The winner of the Libertarian primary between Andrew Ibarra and George Keane will also be on the November ballot, as will independent candidate Meyer Harley.
Andrew Thomas, who resigned as Maricopa County attorney earlier this year, built his reputation by allying himself with Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and taking a hard line against illegal immigration.
But he also entangled himself in a series of prosecutions of his political enemies among the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and Maricopa County judges, which resulted in no successes and a string of lawsuits that are now dogging his campaign.
His GOP opponent, Tom Horne, is in his final year as state superintendent of public instruction. He says that Thomas' legal battles with other elected officials and the judiciary demonstrate that he doesn't have the right temperament for the AG's job.
"If you get that kind of out-of-control prosecutor in the Attorney General's Office, businesses won't want to come here, and Arizona will have no economic future, and we won't have constitutional rights, because you need an independent judiciary to protect your constitutional rights," Horne says.
Three Democrats who have all worked as prosecutors in the Arizona Attorney General's Office are fighting for the party's nomination. Vince Rabago has served as chairman of the Pima County Democratic Party; state Rep. David Lujan is the House minority leader; and Felecia Rotellini has headed up the State Banking Department.
Republican Ken Bennett, a former state Senate president who was appointed to the secretary of state post by Gov. Jan Brewer last year, has drawn no GOP opposition in his run for the seat. He'll face the winner of the Democratic primary between Chris Deschene, a former Marine who has served one term representing Apache County in the Arizona House of Representatives, and Sam Wercinski, an Air Force veteran who served as Arizona's real estate commissioner in the final years of the Napolitano administration.
With Republican Tom Horne moving on to run for attorney general, there's no incumbent in the race to oversee the Arizona Department of Education.
Democrat Jason Williams, a former teacher and executive director of the Phoenix branch of Teach for America who ran unsuccessfully for superintendent of public instruction in 2006, is taking his yellow school bus for another spin on the campaign trail. He faces primary opposition from Penny Kotterman, a former teacher and school administrator who served as president of the Arizona Education Association, a teachers' union.
On the GOP side, state Sen. John Huppenthal will be up against Margaret Dugan, a former teacher who now works as associate superintendent for academic achievement, the second-in-command spot, at the Arizona Department of Education. Political newcomer Beth Price is also in the GOP primary.
Republicans Barbara Leff and Thayer Verschoor have both reached their term limits in the state Senate, and are both looking to become the next state treasurer, who is charged with managing the state's various checkbooks and overseeing its investment portfolio. Also in the GOP primary: Former state lawmaker Ted Carpenter and businessman Doug Ducey, a one-time ice-cream magnate who helped the Cold Stone Creamery become the "Ultimate Ice Cream Experience."
The winner of the GOP primary will face Andrei Cherny, who worked on economic policy in the Clinton administration and prosecuted crimes as an Arizona assistant attorney general under Terry Goddard.
There are two seats up for grabs on the five-member Arizona Corporation Commission, which regulates Arizona's utilities and oversees companies.
Commissioner Kris Mayes has reached her term limit, while Commissioner Gary Pierce is seeking re-election. In the GOP primary, he'll face Brenda Burns, a former state Senate president, and Barry Wong, a former commissioner who made an unsuccessful run for the office in 2008.
On the Democratic side, two Southern Arizona lawmakers—Senate Minority Leader Jorge Luis Garcia and state Rep. Dave Bradley—will be up against former Arizona Corporation Commissioner Renz Jennings.
The two top vote-getters in each primary will face off in the November general election.
Incumbent Mine Inspector Joe Hart will face Democrat Cruz Manuel in the race for Arizona's most obscure statewide office.
Democratic incumbent Sen. Manny Alvarez, a pistachio farmer from Efrida, will fight to keep his seat in this large swing district stretching along the Arizona/Mexico border which he has represented since winning a House seat in 2002.
Republican contenders include Gail Griffin, a real-estate agent and property-right activist, and Craig Smith, a Huachuca City Town Council member and retired Army master sergeant who is hoping his home city of Nogales will give him a boost in the largely rural district.
Incumbent Rep. Pat Fleming, who won the seat in 2008, will face fellow Democrats Ken Davis, an intelligence instructor at Fort Huachuca, and Ruben Ortega, who served in the Arizona House of Representatives from 1989 to 1996.
The Republican field includes incumbent David Stevens, who was also elected in 2008, and Peggy Judd, a Willcox Tea Party organizer and district precinct committeewoman who works with her family real estate company.
Republican state Sen. Al Melvin is seeking a second term in Legislative District 26, which reaches from the Catalina Foothills to Pinal County's Saddlebrooke. Democrat Cheryl Cage, who lost to Melvin by less than 2,000 votes in 2008, is looking for a rematch and hopes that Melvin's conservative voting record will help carry her to victory in one of Arizona's few swing districts.
Incumbent Rep. Vic Williams, who was first elected in 2008, will face fellow Republicans Wade McLean, a former superintendent of the Marana School District, and Terri Proud, a precinct committeeman, gun-rights activist and paralegal.
The two GOP primary winners will face incumbent Rep. Nancy Young Wright, who was appointed to the seat in 2008 and elected later that year, and Democrat William Wallace, a political newcomer who served as a safety officer with the Department of Environmental Protection.
It looks as if state Rep. Olivia Cajero Bedford, who has reached her term limit in the House of Representatives, has free sailing in her run for an open Senate seat in westside Tucson's District 27. Incumbent Sen. Jorge Luis Garcia has reached his term limit and is seeking a seat on Arizona Corporation Commission.
With two open House seats—Rep. Olivia Cajero Bedford is running for the state Senate, while Rep. Phil Lopes is retiring that ol' bow tie—the Democratic primary in Legislative District 27 is a crowded affair. The eight candidates include:
• Sami Hamed, an aide to Congressman Raúl Grijalva who has worked on Democratic campaigns for Grijalva and City Council members Karin Uhlich and Richard Fimbres. Hamed, who is blind, says he has more vision than the current Legislature.
• Dustin Cox, a former executive director of nonprofits Anytown Arizona and Anytown America who worked on Attorney General Terry Goddard's 2006 re-election campaign.
• Bob Gilby, a math teacher at Marana High School and Pima Community College and the husband of former Pima County Democratic Party chairwoman Donna Branch-Gilby.
• John Martin Bernal, a high school math teacher at a Tucson charter school.
• John Kromko, a former state lawmaker who has turned into an anti-tax and anti-establishment crusader. Asked why he was running for the office, Kromko said: "I'll have to get back to you on that." That was the last we heard from him.
• Eric Carbajal Bustamante, a behavioral health associate at the Arizona Children's Association who showed a lot of rough edges during his first run for a House seat in Legislative District 29 two years ago.
• Sally Ann Gonzales, who represented the area in the Legislature from 1997 to 2000.
• Macario Saldate, a retired UA professor and director of the UA Guadalajara Summer School.
The two winners of the Democratic primary will face Republican Robert Compton, a heating-and-cooling technician and precinct committeeman running his first campaign for public office; Green Party candidate Kent Solberg, who owns Kent's Tools and ran unsuccessfully for the state House in 2008; and independent candidate Gene Chewning, a pastor at Living Word Assembly of God who ran an unsuccessful Republican campaign in the district in 2006 and lost the 2008 Republican primary for Congressional District 7 to Joe Sweeney.
In midtown Tucson's District 28, Democratic state Sen. Paula Aboud faces former state lawmaker Ted Downing, who has abandoned the Democratic Party to run as an independent. The move allows Downing to avoid possibly losing a Democratic primary to Aboud, as he did when he ran against her in 2006.
Downing says he's eschewing the party label because his campaign will emphasize the need to push for nonpartisan elections and a merger of the Arizona Senate and House of Representatives into one unicameral body.
"I really believe that politics is not two-dimensional," Downing says. "It's not only right or left. People are multi-dimensional."
Dave Ewoldt, a sustainability policy analyst at a nonprofit, is also running as an independent and has worked with local Green Party campaigns, including Mary DeCamp's City Council run in 2009 and Dave Croteau's 2007 mayoral bid.
With Rep. Dave Bradley termed out, five Democrats have lined up to run for the two House seats in District 28. They include:
• Incumbent Rep. Steve Farley, a graphic artist who serves as the House Democratic caucus policy leader.
• Former blogger and longtime Democratic Party activist Ted Prezelski, who made an unsuccessful run for the seat in 2006.
• Tim Sultan, a Harvard graduate and vice president of SAB Negotiation Group, who lost a 2004 Congressional District 8 primary to Eva Bacal.
• Mohur Sidhwa, who has served as Democratic chair of LD28 and vice chair of the Arizona Democratic Party.
• Bruce Wheeler, a freelance photographer who served two terms on the Tucson City Council in the '90s and one term in the Arizona House of Representatives in the '70s.
The winner of the Democratic primary will face Republicans Greg Krino, a recent UA law school graduate, Air Force major and a former law clerk with the Arizona House of Representatives, and Ken Smalley, a commercial building owner and co-founder of the Fort Lowell Furniture District.
Democrat Linda Lopez faces no opposition in her re-election campaign in this heavily Democratic district ranging from downtown to southeast Tucson. She has represented the district for the last decade, serving in both chambers.
Incumbent Democrats Matt Heinz, an emergency-room physician, and Daniel Patterson, an environmental activist, are wrapping up their freshman terms with no primary opposition. They'll face Republican Pat Kilburn, a retired Border Patrol agent who made an unsuccessful run for the seat in 2008, in the November general election.
Incumbent Sen. Frank Antenori, who was elected to the House in 2008 and appointed to the Senate this year, faces a primary challenge from fellow Republican Marian McClure, who represented the eastside district—which stretches from the Catalina Foothills to Green Valley and Sierra Vista—for four terms in the House of Representatives before she was termed out in 2008.
The winner of the GOP primary will face Democrat Todd Camenisch, a professor at the UA College of Pharmacy who serves on the Catalina Foothills School District governing board.
Incumbent Republicans David Gowan, a magazine distributor who was first elected in 2008, and Ted Vogt, a recent law-school grad and former GOP chair of LD 30 who was appointed earlier this year to fill Sen. Antenori's House seat, face four GOP opponents in their primary:
• Brian Abbott, a telecommunications consultant and longtime political activist who has worked for numerous Republican campaigns but has never run for public office himself.
• Doug Sposito, a Sonoita-area homebuilder who made unsuccessful runs for the LD 30 seat in 2004 and 2008.
• Kurt Knurr, a retired Air Force captain who works for a defense contractor and has never held political office.
• Parralee Schneider, a Realtor who made an unsuccessful bid for the House seat in 2000 and has served as the third vice chair for the Arizona Republican Party.
The two primary winners will face Democrat Andrea Dalessandro, a retired accountant who ran for the House seat in 2008.