ROUNDING UP THE rumors, half-truths and delusional ambitions of the men and women who would be candidates in the year 2000:
With Republican Mike Boyd saying he won't seek re-election (some say he's waffling on that decision...), state Sen. Ann Day is leaving the Legislature to take a shot at his District 1 seat. She may face primary opposition from Sierra Club activist/developer Rich Genser, if Genser can get up the guts to enter the race. Sally Slosser, who lost to Boyd in the 1996 primary, is also a dark horse in this race.
Democrat Byron Howard, a local political consultant, will face the winner of the GOP primary, but the district's GOP edge leaves him an obvious underdog. He hopes his high profile as a spokesman for the "business community" will appeal to Republicans in the Catalina Foothills. Depending on the outcome of the GOP primary, he may have a shot, albeit long.
Supervisor Dan Eckstrom continues his firm hold on southside District 2. A couple of stiffs have scribbled names on forms in the county Elections Division, but there are no real candidates in either party on the horizon to challenge the three-term political heavyweight. Eckstrom showed in mid-December why the task is so daunting: he raised more than $30,000 in a couple of hours at a party at the Viscount Suite Hotel.
Democrat Sharon Bronson is finishing her first term in District 3, the sprawling district that stretches from the west side of Tucson to Ajo. The only Republican openly talking about challenging Bronson is Zach Freeland, a homebuilder who serves on the Sahuarita Town Council, but other candidates are said to be floating in GOP circles.
Republican Ray Carroll will be running for office for the second time in two years, having won a special election in 1998 following his appointment to the District 4 seat in 1996, after John Even died just months after taking office. Unlike 1998, when Carroll faced a tough three-way GOP primary against Even's widow Brenda Even and accountant Ken Marcus, no Republicans have announced plans to challenge Sugar Ray, although low-level sports impressario Dave Sitton is evaluating a run. No Democrats are openly planning a run in this heavily Republican district.
District 5 Supervisor Raul Grijalva is planning to seek a fourth term in his heavily Democratic district. Two Republicans are considering a challenge: Rosalie Lopez, who was elected to the Tucson Unified School Board in 1998, and Barney Brenner, a car-parts store owner who played a visible role in the 1999 protests against the county's rising budget.
The aforementioned Ken Marcus is often mentioned as a candidate for the Treasurer's Office, if Treasurer Jim Kirk finally gives up the controls of the Enterprise after 32 years. Supervisor Mike Boyd is rumored to have an interest in the office as well, although Boyd himself insists he's stepping off the public stage and seeking private employment. The Republican nominee may face Pima County Democratic Party chair Jesse George, if he chooses to run.
County Superintendent of Public Instruction Anita Lohr stepped down last month. The Board of Supervisors named Linda Arzoumanian to the post; she's expected to run for a full term. She may face a primary from some of the candidates passed over in the Board's selection process. Democrat Andy Morales, who lost his 1998 bid for a House seat in District 12, has been planning a bid for the office for months.
Looking safe with no visible opposition -- as of press time, anyway -- are Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, Assessor Rick Lyons and County Recorder F. Ann Rodriguez, all Democrats.
Two other voter-approved reforms will play big roles in this year's legislative contests: public financing of state elections and term limits, which are kicking in for the first time since voters restricted lawmakers to four terms beginning in 1992. The limits are resulting in fresh faces -- as well as some retreads -- in several districts.
In heavily Republican District 9, all three GOP lawmakers are hitting their four-term limits. Sen. Keith Bee's solution is to essentially take a demotion back to the House. Adding to the novelty act, Bee has recruited his brother, Tim Bee, so they can run on a ticket. The Brothers Bee are likely to face a challenge from several Republicans interested in a House seat: Jonathan Lee Paton, a former legislative intern who lost a bid for a House seat in 1998; Perralee Schnieder, who did some organizing for the GOP in the recent city elections; and Marian McClure, a party activist who has been a leader with the Arizona Federation of Republican Women. One Democrat, David Bradley, is considering a run for the House against the winners of the GOP primary.
While D9 Rep. Lou-Ann Preble is calling it quits, Rep. Bill McGibbon is hoping to move into Bee's Senate seat. Three Democrats are considering an uphill battle against McGibbon: James Jaster, Kathy Ramage-White and Matt Welch.
District 10 State Sen. Vic Soltero is up against term limits as well. Both District 10 House members, Ramon Valadez and Sally Ann Gonzales, hope to succeed him, setting up a Democratic primary fight. That leaves two open House seats. Like Bee, Soltero is considering a run for the House, and he'll also likely face a crowded field. Other potential candidates include nurse Betty Liggins, Sunnyside School Board member Linda Lopez, attorney Ralph Ellinwood and former gas-station owner Jesse Lugo.
In District 11, Sen. Elaine Richardson and House members Carmine Cardamone and Debra Norris will also seek re-election, with no word yet on any potential challengers.
In District 12, Sen. Ann Day is facing term limits. In the GOP version of musical chairs, Day is looking to win Mike Boyd's post on the Board of Supervisors as Boyd aide Toni Hellon is seeking Day's seat. A Republican Party heavyweight, Hellon is likely to face a primary challenge from former lawmaker Scott Alexander. Rep. Dan Schottel, who is being forced from the House after four terms, is also exploring a Senate run. Only one Democrat, John Crouch, is expressing an interest in running in the heavily Republican district.
D12 Rep. Steve Huffman, a real-estate broker who won his first term in 1998, will seek re-election. Pete Hershberger, son of former D12 lawmakers Pete and Freddie Hershberger, is also planning a run.
The biggest prize of the legislative season looks to be the Senate seat in District 13. The state Senate currently has 16 Republicans and 14 Democrats, which weakens the GOP's control of the Legislature. Republicans would love to steal the District 13 Senate seat away from the Democrats, and District 13's close registration balance (30,908 Democrats, 30,196 Republicans, 1,099 Libertarians, 32 Reform Party members and 11,123 voters not affiliated with any of those parties) makes it a horse race.
Incumbent state Sen. George Cunningham is stepping down to run for Congress. Rep. Andy Nichols, a Democrat who has hit his term limits in the House, has already formed an exploratory committee to seek the Senate seat. Rep. Kathleen Dunbar, a freshman Republican best known for her fervent opposition to the Rio Nuevo downtown revitalization plan passed by Tucson voters last November, has to decide whether to remain in the House or run for the Senate.
With at least one open House seat (and the possibility of two, if Dunbar goes for the Senate seat), at least five Democrats are considering campaigns: former lawmaker Brian Fagin, who lost the District 13 seat to Dunbar in 1998; realtor Colette Barajas; Dr. Howard Shore, who is married to Planned Parenthood honcho Virginia Yrun; UA prof Ted Downing; and Gabrielle Giffords, who's moved into politics following her decision to sell her family's El Campo tire stores.
On the Republican side, three candidates are considering campaigns: teacher Scott Kirtley, who ran unsuccessfully for a House seat in 1996; Carol Somers, a GOP activist; and Rick Grinnell, who lost his second bid for the City Council seat two months ago.
In District 14, Sen. Ruth Solomon is seeking re-election, as is Rep. Marion Pickens. Rep Herschella Horton is stepping down to seek a seat on the Arizona Corporation Commission, leaving an open seat. Among the potential candidates are Demitri Downing, a law student who lost his bid for a City Council seat in 1997 (and the son of Ted Downing, who may seek a House seat in D13), and Roberta Jensen, a blind attorney.
Statewide, the Corporation Commission will have two openings, following the odd technicality that prevented Tony West from holding his seat following his election in 1998. Republican Bill Mundell, a former lawmaker appointed to the seat in by Jane Dee Hull after West was ousted, is expected to run. State Sen. Mark Spitzer, a Republican from Phoenix, is also exploring an ACC campaign.
On the Democratic side of the aisle, Steve Ahearn has announced he'll seek an ACC seat. As already mentioned, state Rep. Herschella Horton, a Democratic from central Tucson, is also exploring a run for the Corporation Commission.
No word yet on whether perennial candidate Joe Sweeney, a nutbag from Tucson, will seek to challenge Kolbe in the Republican primary, but it's safe to say it won't matter if he does.
District 2 Congressman Ed Pastor is also expected to seek re-election. Republican Bill Barenholtz has been running against Pastor almost since he was re-elected, but given the Democratic edge in District 2, he faces long odds.
Sen. Jon Kyl looks like he can walk to re-election; there's no opposition in sight.