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Campaign 2010 reaches the finish line

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It’s been an election season to remember.

Who’s likely to forget, for example, Gov. Jan Brewer’s weird meltdown during the one and only gubernatorial debate against Democrat Terry Goddard? (We’re sure Brewer would like us to forget, of course, but we’ll always have YouTube to remind us.)

Not that Brewer’s odd stumble—or the way she fled from the press when asked why she kept saying that headless bodies had been found in the Arizona desert—seems to have damaged her chances of winning the seat next Tuesday, Nov. 2. Our appointed governor appears headed to victory over Goddard, who has trailed the incumbent throughout the campaign.

As the campaign has neared the finish line, Goddard has continued to barnstorm the state. He picked up the endorsement of the Arizona Conference of Police and Sheriffs and tried to capitalize on the unhappy news that Arizona’s unemployment numbers remain dismal, but Brewer continues to elude him.

We’re also not likely to forget some of the attack ads generated by Sen. John McCain, who freely spent the millions of dollars that were left over from his failed presidential bid on a campaign to destroy GOP primary challenger J.D. Hayworth. Our fave: A takeoff on the infomercial that Hayworth appeared in touting free government money. McCain’s version gets bonus points for including space aliens and Planet of the Apes, as well as an aerosol product called horse-love repellant.

McCain hasn’t come after his Democratic opponent, former Tucson City Council member Rodney Glassman, nearly as hard, but he did put up a surreal web ad just a few weeks ago that featured Glassman singing opera—and that video guest-starred me. (I gotta say: I never expected to see my head pop up inside of Glassman’s mouth.)

Speaking of Glassman: We doubt we’re likely to forget the campaign video of him singing “Sweet Home Arizona.” Glassman was excited that it got people talking about him—which goes to show you that he’s a big believer in the maxim that there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

Unfortunately for Glassman, it doesn’t appear that his Skynyrd tribute is much of a game-changer. McCain appears headed for another term representing Arizona (or maybe just himself) in the Senate, even if he’s had to renounce just about everything he’s ever stood for to get there. (McCain’s quote of the year: “I never considered myself a maverick.”)

There have been plenty of YouTube moments in the Congressional District 8 race, where Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is making a big effort to fend off Republican challenger Jesse Kelly. One of the best moments surfaced just last week, when Kelly told a questioner at a meet-and-greet that the average citizen could do a better job of checking eggs for salmonella-poisoning than government inspectors could. “That’s the thing, ma’am; it’s our job to protect ourselves,” Kelly said. “Because no one else is going to look out for your best interests except for you.”

Well, that’s certainly true if enough guys like Kelly get elected this year.

When Giffords and Kelly clashed in three debates last week, Giffords demonstrated a stronger command of the details of the issues than Kelly, who continued to repeat conservative talking points and, in some cases, make stuff up. (See this week’s Skinny for details on that.)

We haven’t seen polling numbers released on the Giffords-Kelly contest since early September, but national prognosticators are calling it a toss-up—and that’s sure how it seems to us. Both campaigns and their surrogates have flooded the airwaves with attack ads, but at this point, the race will probably come down to turnout: Which side can get out the voters better?

On the other hand, we’re hearing a lot about polls in neighboring Congressional District 7, where Congressman Raúl Grijalva is facing a real challenge from Republican opponent Ruth McClung, a political newcomer whose campaign has surged so much in recent weeks that the Cook Political Report now rates the race as a toss-up.

Nate Silver of The New York Times is a little more skeptical—he gives Grijalva a 76 percent chance of winning—but that’s still a big drop from earlier this month, when Grijalva’s chances were at 99 percent.

Who would have bet back in January that it would be possible that Giffords, and not Grijalva, would be going back to D.C.?

Judging from the slow pace of early-ballot returns—as of last Friday, Oct. 22, only about one-third sent out in Pima County had been returned—we’re guessing that a lot of voters are still trying to make sense of things.

We’ve got a recap of our endorsements below, and if you’re in the market for more info, we’ll be linking back to our political coverage from the last few months at The Range, our regularly updated daily dispatch, at daily.tucsonweekly.com. Also check in there for breaking news in the last week of the campaign.


The 2010 Tucson Weekly Endorsements, Condensed, by the Tucson Weekly Editorial Board

Here’s a condensed version of the endorsements we published a few weeks back. If you’re looking for more info, you’ll find it on The Range at daily.tucsonweekly.com, where we’ve got links to all of our Election Season coverage.


U.S. Congress, District 8: Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords

Democrat Gabrielle Giffords has delivered for Southern Arizona. She has brought home federal dollars that have kept the state’s schools, hospitals and universities open. She’s brought stimulus money that has fixed streets, hired more cops and helped land jobs, such as the 500-job expansion that drug-manufacturer Roche Group announced for Oro Valley earlier this month. She’s helped fix up the fire station at Fort Huachuca, funded programs to help wounded vets get 21st-century rehabilitation services and built a domestic-violence shelter in Sierra Vista.

Her Republican opponent, Jesse Kelly, promises to do none of these things—and, in fact, criticizes Giffords for supporting them. Kelly’s platform is straight out of fantasyland. He wants a 10 percent flat tax that he himself admits has no support in Congress. He thinks individuals and not government should be “regulating” everything from the stock market to the drug industries. Last week, he said the average person can do a better job of preventing salmonella outbreaks than government inspectors can. C’mon, we’ve heard plenty of crazy stuff, but do you really believe that’s the truth?

We need a representative who is going to look out for Southern Arizona, not one who wants to destroy government because it’s too complicated for him to understand.


U.S. Congress, District 7: Congressman Raúl Grijalva

We thought Congressman Raúl Grijalva made a boneheaded move with his call for a boycott of the state in the wake of SB 1070, but he’s admitted he made a mistake. We agree with the majority of his votes and appreciate his fight against the Rosemont Mine proposal. Republican opponent Ruth McClung’s platform just isn’t our cup of tea; the more we learn about her, the more it becomes clear that she’s just another right-wing ideologue. Vote Grijalva.


U.S. Senate: No Recommendation

These are our choices? Seriously? You’re on your own with this one.


Governor: Terry Goddard

Gov. Jan Brewer is the wrong choice for innumerable reasons, but mostly because we believe Democrat Terry Goddard will do a much better job of stemming the flow of crazy that’s going to pour out of the Arizona Legislature. We stand on the edge of losing our investments in everything from state parks to the universities if someone doesn’t stop the right-wing whackos—and Democrat Terry Goddard is far more likely to do that than Brewer.


Secretary of State: Chris Deschene

Secretary of State Ken Bennett is a cut above most Republicans in the state these days, but we still give the nod to Democrat Chris Deschene, because in Arizona, the secretary of state has a habit of becoming governor, and we’re more comfortable with Deschene in that role.


Attorney General: Felecia Rotellini

We’ll take Democrat Felecia Rotellini over Republican Tom Horne, who appears a little too eager to find ways to mess with an already overstressed Tucson Unified School District.


State Treasurer: Andrei Cherny

Democrat Andrei Cherny is moderate enough to earn the endorsement of Jim Kolbe, the former Republican congressman who is chairing his campaign. We’ll take him over Republican Doug Ducey, whose trail of disgruntled former Cold Stone Creamery franchisees and unpaid taxes leaves us less than confident that he’s ready to handle the state’s books.


State Superintendent of Public Instruction: Penny Kotterman

Democrat Penny Kotterman is a longtime advocate for teachers who understands how the schools work, while Republican John Huppenthal is Republican lawmaker who has undermined public education at every opportunity. A no-brainer.


Arizona Corporation Commission: Dave Bradley

Democrat Dave Bradley has ably served Tucson for the last eight years in the Arizona Legislature, and we’re convinced he’d make a good addition to the Arizona Corporation Commission.


The Arizona Legislature: Vote the Democratic Ticket

We usually find a couple of Republicans worth supporting in legislative races, but this year, there are none.

As we’ve documented over the last year, Republicans are using the budget crisis as a way to plunder state government. They have been willing to cut our schools, eliminate health care for the sick and poor, scrap job-training and economic-development efforts, hack away at our universities and sell off our state parks. In short, if there’s something you care about that’s been built in this state over the last two decades, you can kiss it goodbye.


We understand that the state faces a financial crisis. But the real fix is to seriously reform the tax code so that it adapts to a 21st-century economy, not to shut down everything besides the schools and then give the savings away as tax cuts for the wealthiest residents. It’s time to bring some fresh thinking to the Arizona Legislature. (You’ll see that we’ve added a few names to our list since the endorsements package ran three weeks ago.)

With that in mind, we endorse:

District 25

Senate: Manny Alvarez
House: Pat Fleming and Ruben Ortega

District 26

Senate: Cheryl Cage
House: Nancy Young Wright

District 28

State Senate: Paula Aboud
State House: Steve Farley and Bruce Wheeler

District 30

State Senate: Todd Camenisch
State House: Andrea Dalessandro

Propositions


Proposition 106 (Health Care): No

Prop 106 would amend the Arizona Constitution to “preserve the freedom of Arizonans to provide for their health care.” That sounds great, but the real aim of the prop is to undermine the new federal health-care plan passed by Democrats, by claiming that Arizonans can’t be required to buy private insurance. That’s what we call an opportunity to waste millions of taxpayer dollars in lawsuits.

Proposition 107 (Affirmative Action): No

Prop 107 purportedly seeks to ensure that people get promoted on the basis of merit rather than their gender or the color of their skin. It’s certainly a noble goal, but let’s face it: “Merit” is a slippery qualification in any competition, and there’s a long history of women and minorities being shortchanged. Too many unintended consequences.

Proposition 109 (Hunting Laws): No

Prop 109 would create a new constitutional right to hunt and fish in Arizona, and would block future propositions that could in any way limit hunting and fishing by giving the Arizona Legislature the exclusive authority to regulate hunting. We’re not inclined to restrict voters’ authority and amend the Constitution to placate a small special-interest group.

Proposition 110 (State Trust Lands): Yes

Prop 110 would ask voters to approve certain types of land swaps related to state trust lands. We’ve been skeptical of previous efforts to approve land swaps, because the state always seems to come out on the short end of the deal, but this proposal has a number of protections built into it, including giving voters the final say on any swaps. It’s good enough for both the Sierra Club and the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and it’s good enough for us.

Proposition 111 (Secretary of State/Lieutenant Governor): No

Prop 111 would change the title of secretary of state to lieutenant governor, to make it clear that the office-holder becomes governor if the governor leaves office early. We like that idea, but this deeply flawed proposition has too many unintended consequences, including the possibility that it may prohibit independent candidates from running for governor or secretary of state.

Proposition 112 (Petition Deadlines): Yes

Prop 112 would push back the deadline for submitting petitions for an initiative campaign from four months before an election to six months before an election. Given the amount of signature-gathering shenanigans that have been going on, it makes sense to give election officials more time to review the petitions that get turned in, and give the courts more time to sort out challenges.

Proposition 113 (Union-Organizing Elections): No Recommendation

Prop 113 would amend the Arizona Constitution to require that union-organizing elections be conducted with a secret ballot. We generally agree with that sentiment, but at its heart, this measure is designed to mess with unions and serve as a get-out-the-vote issue for conservatives, so we can’t tell you to vote for it.

Proposition 203 (Medical Marijuana): Yes

Prop 203 would legalize medical marijuana for seriously ill patients who register with the state and get a doctor’s recommendation. Dispensaries would face a variety of regulations. If smoking a little pot makes sick and dying people feel a little better, they shouldn’t have to break the law to do it.

Proposition 301 (Elimination of Land Conservation Fund): No


Proposition 302 (Elimination of First Things First): No

Prop 301 would eliminate the Land Conservation Fund created by voters more than a decade ago, and give the roughly $123 million remaining in the fund to lawmakers in order to balance the budget, while Prop 302 would eliminate the First Things First program, which funds early childhood development and health programs, and use the estimated $324 million in the fund to help lawmakers balance this year’s budget. Future revenues for the fund, which come from an 80-cent-a-pack cigarette tax, would also be turned over to lawmakers to be used at their discretion.

We don’t like the idea of allowing lawmakers to swipe funds, especially since the same folks who want to grab the money want to turn around and give away huge tax breaks to the rich. Vote no.

Proposition 400 (Tucson Sales Tax Increase): Yes ... Barely

Prop 400 would increase the sales tax inside the Tucson city limits by a half-cent per dollar for five years, bringing the combined city, state and transportation sales tax to 9.6 cents on every dollar.

We’re not thrilled about the idea of raising sales taxes inside the city limits; these are tough times, and it’s hard to ask everyone to pay a little more. We also hate the fact that this could put city businesses at a big disadvantage when compared to businesses in unincorporated county areas.

But the city has seen its revenues drop by at least $69 million since 2007, and there are more troubles on the horizon. The City Council continues to whittle away at the budget, but it’s still facing a $50 million shortfall next year. We’re already dropping support for festivals, arts programs, sports programs and many other amenities that help improve Tucson’s quality of life. We’re willing to invest in the city.

Proposition 401 (Tucson City Charter Amendments): No Recommendation

While there’s much to like about this package of changes to the city’s “constitution,” we have too many concerns to endorse it. We don’t like the idea of having all council members elected at once every four years, for example.


Our Recommendations

U.S. Congress, District 7: Congressman Raúl Grijalva

U.S. Congress, District 8: Gabrielle Giffords

U.S. Senate: No Recommendation

Governor: Terry Goddard

Secretary of State: Chris Deschene

Attorney General: Felecia Rotellini

State Treasurer: Andrei Cherny

State Superintendent of Public Instruction: Penny Kotterman

Arizona Corporation Commission: Dave Bradley

Arizona Legislature

District 25

Senate: Manny Alvarez

House: Pat Fleming and Ruben Ortega

District 26

Senate: Cheryl Cage

House: Nancy Young Wright

District 28

State Senate: Paula Aboud

State House: Steve Farley and Bruce Wheeler

District 30

State Senate: Todd Camenisch

State House: Andrea Dalessandro

PROPOSITIONS

Prop 106: No

Prop 107: No

Prop 109: No

Prop 110: Yes

Prop 111: No

Prop 112: Yes

Prop 113: No Recommendation

Prop 203: Yes

Prop 301: No

Prop 302: No

Prop 400: Yes ... Barely

Prop 401: No Recommendation

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