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Severely Awesome 

We endorse Republican Sarah Gonzales and Green Richard Grayson in next week's presidential primary

We've had many people ask us over the last few months whether Project White House 2012 is serious, or just a big joke.

We find ourselves asking: Is Newt Gingrich's moon base a big joke? Is Ron Paul serious when he says that medical care for seniors was better before Medicare? Is Rick Santorum serious when he says that abortion doctors belong behind bars? Is Mitt Romney serious when he says his sons are serving the country by helping him get elected rather than enlisting in the military?

In light of all that, we believe the Project White House candidates are just as serious about running the country as the Republican Party's frontrunners.

In case you have not been following Project White House: We invited all of the candidates on the Feb. 28 Arizona presidential-primary ballot to participate in a Reality Journalism competition in order to win the Tucson Weekly's presidential endorsement. More than half of the Republicans on the ballot—12 out of 23—signed up, as did half of the Green Party candidates.

Over the last several weeks, we have presented them with a variety of challenges, from making Facebook pages for their campaigns to developing hit ads against their high-profile opponents. The competition culminated last weekend with a pair of presidential debates televised by our friends at Access Tucson. (If you missed 'em, they've been posted on The Range so you can size up the candidates yourselves.)

Now, with the Feb. 28 presidential primary just days away, the time has come for us to make our endorsements.

We must say: We're impressed with this year's crop of dark-horse Republican candidates. We think that Charles Skelley is right when he says that too many manufacturing jobs have left the United States. Al "Dick" Perry is right when he says that corporations have too much power and demonstrate too little civic responsibility. Peter "Simon" Bollander is right when he says we have too many lawyers in politics. Jim Terr is right when he says a cascade of money has corrupted our election process. Donald Benjamin is right when he says grocery stores are too confusing. And Kip Dean is right when he says the front-runners in the GOP primary are just plain unlikable.

That brings us to a fundamental problem with the GOP: It's in desperate need of a makeover. These old white dudes running for president—Romney, Santorum, Gingrich, Paul—just don't seem to be in touch with the modern world or remotely prepared to deal with its increasingly complex challenges.

And that's why we're endorsing Sarah Gonzales, the only Latina on the GOP primary ballot in Arizona.

In the Project White House televised debates, Gonzales described herself as "severely awesome"—and we're inclined to agree. We don't know that we agree with her stances on everything, but much of what she calls for sounds good to us.

We should spend less on overseas wars. We should pay teachers more. We should have more arts classes and physical education in our schools. We should crack down on white-collar crime. We should reconsider how many people we lock away, and stop the growth of a private-prison industry that turns a profit on putting people behind bars. We should invest more in solar energy. We should have more poetry in our lives.

And we agree with what Gonzales says about her platform: It makes a lot more sense than 9-9-9.

The Tucson Weekly endorses Sarah Gonzales in the 2012 Arizona Republican primary.

The Greens

Three of the six Green Party candidates on the Arizona ballot are participating in Project White House: Richard Grayson, Gary Swing and Michael Oatman.

All of the Greens have done a lot to express their plans through Project White House, but we have been most impressed with Richard Grayson, including his plan to deport Republicans back to the 18th century, where they could be more comfortable with their tricorner hats and other Tea Party garb, and his demand that Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu be nicer to his ex-boyfriends. Few of the Project White House candidates have done a better job of responding to the issues of the day.

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