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An early look at how the 2010 legislative races are shaping up in Southern Arizona

Even as the state teeters on the edge of bankruptcy with few solutions in sight, there are a few brave souls—or highly ambitious egomaniacs—still interested in serving in the Arizona Legislature.

Here's a roundup of potential candidates, based on what we've heard in recent months.

LEGISLATIVE DISTRICT 25

Legislative District 25 is one of those rare birds in Arizona politics: a split district. Although registration leans Democratic, LD25 is now represented by Democrat Pat Fleming and Republican David Stevens in the House, and Democrat Manny Alvarez in the Senate.

Fleming and Stevens are both expected to seek re-election to second terms. Nogales Mayor Octavio Garcia-Von Borstel may be a second Democrat in the race, while former Huachuca City Mayor Gurmeet "George" Nerhan has filed paperwork to run as a Republican.

Alvarez may be looking for a second term in the Senate, although he may also be eyeing a run for the Cochise County Board of Supervisors, which certainly pays better, requires less travel and wouldn't involve trying to run a government on the brink of financial collapse. We also hear that Republican Jan Smith-Flores, who has served as Cochise County attorney and a Nogales city attorney, may have an interest in the Senate seat.

LEGISLATIVE DISTRICT 26

Like LD25, Legislative District 26 is a swing district, although it leans slightly Republican. It's now represented by Democrat Nancy Young Wright and Republican Vic Williams in the House, and Republican Al Melvin in the Senate.

Wright is seeking re-election, but the Democrats haven't yet recruited anyone for the second seat. Williams is expected to seek a second term; he'll be joined by Republican Terri Proud, a member of the Republican Liberty Caucus.

The Senate race will feature a replay of 2008, with Democrat Cheryl Cage taking another shot at Melvin, whom she lost to by 1,966 votes two years ago.

LEGISLATIVE DISTRICT 27

State Sen. Jorge Luis Garcia has reached his term limit in westside LD27 and now wants to run for the Arizona Corporation Commission, leaving an open Senate seat that Rep. Olivia Cajero Bedford wants to capture. LD27's other House member, Rep. Phil Lopes, has reached his term limit and is giving up his career at the Arizona Legislature.

The two open House seats have attracted several Democrats, including Bob Gilby, whose wife, Donna Branch-Gilby made a run against Pima County Supervisor Sharon Bronson in 2008; Sami Hamed, a longtime Democratic activist who has worked as an aide to Congressman Raúl Grijalva; and Dustin Cox, the executive director of Anytown Arizona, a youth-oriented nonprofit.

Gene Chewning, a pastor who previously ran as a Republican in LD27 in 2006 and lost a GOP congressional primary to perennial candidate Joe Sweeney in 2008, is running as an independent.

LEGISLATIVE DISTRICT 28

In heavily Democratic District 28, Sen. Paula Aboud has yet to draw an opponent.

But the House race is a different story. With Rep. Dave Bradley termed out, a half-dozen Democrats are considering a run in the midtown district, including Rep. Steve Farley, who is seeking a third term.

Local blogger Ted Prezelski, who ran for the LD28 House seat in 2006, is taking another shot at the district, and Mohur Sidhwa, a former Democratic chair of LD28, formally announced she was seeking the office this week. Tim Sultan, who lost a 2004 congressional primary, is also in the hunt.

Bruce Wheeler, a former member of the Tucson City Council and a one-term lawmaker back in the 1970s, is talking about making a political comeback, but hasn't made a formal announcement.

LEGISLATIVE DISTRICT 29

Democratic Sen. Linda Lopez is, as of now, unopposed in her campaign for another term in southside LD29.

Both House members, Democrats Matt Heinz and Daniel Patterson, are seeking re-election to second terms. Democrat Tom Prezelski, who lost in a crowded primary to Heinz and Patterson last year, is considering a comeback.

LEGISLATIVE DISTRICT 30

We still don't know if Sen. Jonathan Paton will give up his legislative seat to challenge Congress-woman Gabrielle Giffords, but if he doesn't, he may face a challenge from Democrat Todd Camenisch, an associate professor in the UA's Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology.

Republicans Frank Antenori and David Gowan will be seeking re-election to their House seats. Democrat Andrea Dalessandro, a retired accountant who lost the race in 2008, wants a rematch.

If you're planning on running but didn't make our list, be sure to drop us a line!

More by Jim Nintzel

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