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Republican Bob Walkup 

Bob Walkup says there's a lot the citizens of Tucson don't know about him.

He's a painter, for example, who's had his own art show. He won statewide awards in trap-shooting competitions. Friends says he's a hell of a golfer and likes to tinker with cars in his spare time.

Walkup, 66, grew up in Ames, Iowa, where his father headed the industrial engineering department at Iowa State University. He says he was a track star in his early days of high school, but when his grades slipped, his father told him the family wasn't raising a dumb athlete. If he didn't improve his scholastic work, his father was going to pull him out of all his sports.

"I never ran the same speed again," Walkup says.

But his grades went up. He earned an engineering degree in his father's program at Iowa State. After a short stint in the U.S. Army, Walkup went to work in the aerospace industry, coming to Tucson in 1985 as an executive with Hughes Aircraft.

One of Walkup's main responsibilities was improving the company's local image, which was tarnished by the discovery that lax environmental standards had contaminated southside water wells with the industrial solvent TCE.

His first intense involvement in local government came a few years later, when he teamed up with local leaders to develop a state tax break that persuaded Hughes to consolidate operation in Tucson. The company, now Raytheon, remains one of Tucson's largest private employers.

Walkup made his debut as a candidate in 1999, where he won the mayor's office despite a lopsided Democratic voter registration advantage.

"It's been absolutely everything I expected it to be," says Walkup. "I can't think of something that has happened to me that has been distasteful or uncomfortable or unexpected or inappropriate."

More by Jim Nintzel

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