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OF PRIMARY IMPORTANCE

Is that big ol' primary election here already? You betcha. Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 7. If you don't know where you're supposed to vote, visit County Recorder F. Ann Rodriguez's Web site at www.recorder.co.pima.az.us/ or dial 740-4350.


ENDGAME IN DISTRICT 8

So is state Rep. Randy Graf going to knock off Congressman Jim Kolbe in next week's GOP primary?

Graf hasn't had much cheddar--he estimated earlier this week that he'd raised something in the neighborhood of $90,000--but he's made the strongest challenge Kolbe has faced from the right in at least a decade, mostly through a grassroots push. (A couple weeks back, f'example, we spotted one of Randy's supporters standing on the side of the road like one of those now-outlawed newspaper peddlers, handing out literature to passing cars.)

Graf has gotten a boost from radio ads blasting Kolbe on illegal immigration--spots sponsored by the Team America PAC, a national outfit focused on stricter border control. Team America is the work of Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo, who was told earlier this year he should lay off fellow Republicans.

Kolbe has also come under steady fire from members of the South East Arizona Republican Club, which last week posted a series of outrageous fliers on its Web site, www.searclub. com. The digitally altered campaign pieces, accompanied by essays by SEAR Club VP Paul Rollins, depict a smiling Kolbe giving a big thumbs-up to illegal border crossers, gay marriage and, in a particularly gruesome piece, late-term abortion.

Graf distanced himself from the SEAR Club pieces earlier this week.

"They're certainly not coming out of my camp," he said. "Everybody's got their own ideas, and the South Eastern Republicans are their own club. We don't need to go that route. I'd prefer to stay on the issues, but the congressman has done his ads that are, quite frankly, not very forthright."

Kolbe campaign press secretary Davy Kong dismissed the fliers as "a desperate attempt by the SEAR Club to get attention. We won't dignify it with a response."

There's little argument Graf has secured the cultural conservatives who hate Kolbe over the congressman's opposition to abortion restrictions and a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. That base gets a bit of a boost from voters angry over illegal immigration who might otherwise not give a packrat's ass about the social issues.

But that still doesn't make up a majority of Republicans in District 8. The only thing Kolbe really has to worry about is turnout, because nothing is going to stop Graf's supporters from showing up at the polls. If Kolbe's supporters get complacent, he could lose to Graf--but we suspect the Kolbe campaign will mount a vigorous get-out-the-vote effort. His crew has already dominated the early-ballot push.


BALLOT BOXED

Speaking of early ballots: A strange sideshow has gripped Maricopa County's upcoming primary. It seems a right-wing political consultant, Constantin Querard, hijacked thousands of early ballot requests, holding onto some of them for more than six weeks before delivering them last week just ahead of a court date.

In an act of breathtaking audacity, Querard dropped a mailer to tens of thousands of households in Maricopa County that appeared to be an official communication from the Republican Party. The mailer offered to take care of getting early ballots to voters who returned the card.

That alone isn't all that unusual; campaigns and political parties do it all the time. But Querard didn't note who paid for the mailing--a detail which was called illegal by a Maricopa County judge last week.

And get this: Querard took his scam a step further. Rather than turn over the requests to Maricopa County officials so they could be processed and voters could get their ballots, Querard decided to hang onto thousands of them, ultimately bringing a shit-hammer down on his own head.

Last week, the Maricopa County Republican Party, Maricopa County election officials and a pair of GOP lawmakers took Querard to court over his selective manipulation of the early-ballot requests. Following a hearing last week, Querard told the Arizona Republic he's turned over all of the requests he got in the mail--but then, that's what the lying sack of shit told reporters a week earlier, only to turn in nearly 2,000 requests a few days later.

Given Querard's concerns about the possibility of illegal migrants casting votes, you'd think he'd wouldn't casually toy with voting rights. But maybe he was just checking the citizenship of the all those Republicans who were foolish enough to trust him to deliver an early ballot.

Querard's links to Tucson include the campaign of Randy Graf.

Graf blames the legal action against Querard on the ongoing strife between moderate and conservative Republicans, but Maricopa County GOP chair Tom Liddy (son of G. Gordon Liddy) doesn't exactly strike The Skinny as a card-carrying member of Mainstream Arizona.

"I'm not sure of the specifics, but it sounds like the typical battle between the moderates and the conservatives in the Republican Party," says Graf, who describes Querard as "a good conservative, a stand-up guy to the best of my knowledge, a Christian. He goes out and helps conservative folks, trying to get them elected."

Querard is also tied to Legislative District 30, where Graf is giving up a House seat to challenge Kolbe. Querard is helping David Gowan, one of four Republicans seeking a House seat in D30, which includes eastern Tucson, Green Valley and Sierra Vista. Gowan is facing incumbent Rep. Marian McClure, lobbyist Jonathan Paton and homebuilder David Sposito.

Despite the fact that Querard is under fire from the Maricopa County Republican Party and under investigation by the state Attorney General's office, Gowan is standing by his man.

"I don't know the whole situation up there," says Gowan, whose campaign has been aggressively attacking McClure over illegal immigration through the final weeks of the campaign. "All I know is that Constantin is a good guy, and he works hard for you, and that's what he's been doing for my campaign."


VIXENS SEEK VIRGIN VOTERS

Here's a trend we never saw coming: Suddenly voting is not just your civic duty, but it's cool!

One sure sign: Hot chicks mobilizing voters. Say hello to the Tucson Suffragettes, who are organizing all manner of art, performance and political activism for the downtown hipster/doofus crowd and beyond.

And there's even a pageant! Every newly registered voter gets an entry into the Mr. and Mrs. Virgin Voter competition, which will be decided at the Virgin Voter Ball at Hotel Congress on Election Night. (Free admittance with your "I Voted" sticker!)

Wanna know more? Details at www.tucsonsuffragettes.com.

This Saturday, Sept. 4, the Suffragettes will be splitting their time between two Fourth Avenue nightclubs, Che's Lounge and the Surly Wench. They're promising the music of Whiskey Bitch and Molehill Orkestrah, the incendiary work of Flam Chen, a guest appearance by Tucson's own roller derby girls, magic shows, tarot readings and even a little Dr. Seuss. Plus, plenty of political activism and, of course, an opportunity to register to vote. Do it now, before you have to prove your citizenship!

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