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HIT AND MISS

From the Scramblewatch '06 desk: State Rep. Steve Huffman went negative against former state lawmaker Randy Graf last week in the Congressional District 8 Republican primary contest with both a TV spot and a mailer.

The TV spot focused on two silly moments from a couple of years back. The first was an incident in which Graf hung a picture of President George W. Bush upside down in his legislative office to protest a White House proposal for a guest-worker program for illegal immigrants. Given Bush's waning popularity, that doesn't seem like such a big liability in 2006.

The second was a bill that Graf co-sponsored that would have created term limits for public employees, lobbyists and members of the media. It was undoubtedly a dumb idea, but Graf never seriously expected the bill to go anywhere; it was an effort to draw attention to the stupidity of legislative term limits.

Huffman clearly believes in recycling, given that both of these charges were brought up two years ago by Congressman Jim Kolbe while he was swatting Graf's 2004 challenge.

Huffman repeated both charges in the mailer that targeted Graf, although we imagine he must be a bit embarrassed that he referred to President Bush as the "Commander and Chief." That's quite a blunder for a former naval reservist. As one wag noted to The Skinny: Maybe Huffman got it mixed up with Master and Commander.

Huffman's most serious charge was the Graf campaign's episode with Steve Aiken, the former campaign manager who was fired by Graf after news reports surfaced that Aiken had been convicted of corrupting the morals of minors in relation to a pair of cases in which he was accused of having sex with two teenagers who were in a Christian counseling program in the mid-'90s.

Graf says Aiken was a big help to the campaign and may have been falsely accused, yet he had no choice but to fire him when the story broke.

"The campaign would have been about this story continuously," Graf says. "Steve (Aiken) did a good job for us, but it was very clear that the campaign had to move forward."


HOUSE HUNT

For months now, state Sen. Toni Hellon has been the target of an anonymous Web site--www.hellontoni.com--that sprung up after news broke that she had reported using some of her campaign funds to remodel her home office. The brain behind the Web site--who identified himself as one "Thomas Paine"--accused Hellon of remodeling other parts of her home and misappropriating campaign funds for personal use.

To make his case, our mysterious Mr. Paine went the extra step of actually creeping around the Hellon home and taking photos of the windows, as well as posting diagrams of the home's layout on the Web site--which strikes us as just a wee bit invasive.

According to Hellon, authorities tracked the Web site back to Republican Todd Clodfelter, a one-time candidate for the Tucson City Council and signmaker who prints up political billboards for candidates.

But Clodfelter, who denied maintaining the Web site but declined further comment, is a small fish in this fetid tank. Hellon also went down to Pima County Justice Court earlier this week and got an injunction against William "Bill" Arnold, a past president of the Tucson Association of Realtors, accusing him of being the peculiar man in a ballcap and sunglasses who was taking photos outside her home. Wonder if that sort of behavior could earn you a thorn from the Arizona Daily Star?

Hellon struck back this week, filing an invasion of privacy lawsuit against both Arnold and Clodfelter.

"I am just not going to put up with this anymore, doggone it," an exasperated Hellon said. "I don't know why he's doing this or anything like that. Makes no sense to me, for crying out loud."

Arnold, who ignored our phone calls, is well-known in political circles. He's a member of the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan steering committee and sits on the county's Conservation Advisory Committee.

He's also a political junkie. Until he quit earlier this week, about the same time as Hellon went all "you've-been-served" on his ass, Arnold was serving as treasurer of Steve Huffman's congressional campaign--which, if Hellon's accusations are true, makes his sneaking around her house even more curious, given that one of Huffman's rivals for the Congressional District 8 seat is none other than Mike Hellon, Toni Hellon's ex-husband. And don't forget: Before Congressman Jim Kolbe announced his retirement, Huffman had planned to run against Toni Hellon for the Senate seat.

In his resignation letter, Arnold called the allegations "politically motivated and baseless."

To think that at one time all these folks were such good friends!


RETURN TO SENDER

As noted on the TW blog (blog.tucsonweekly.com) last week, Republican David Gowan doesn't stand much of a chance of being elected to the Arizona House of Representatives, but he continues to lead the race for dumbest candidate in Southern Arizona. Gowan, a Republican seeking a House seat in District 30, sent out three mailers last week, including a hit piece targeting incumbent Rep. Marian McClure. The only problem: He sent them to Republicans in District 26.

That's even worse than Gowan's blunder two years ago, when he also went after McClure. In that race, he delivered his mail piece a day after the primary.

Did we say Gowan was as dumb as a bag of hammers? Correction: He's dumber.

How do you send not one, not two, but three mailers to the wrong district? We think it has something to do with the fact that both Gowan and Republican Al Melvin, who is taking on District 26 state Sen. Toni Hellon in the GOP primary, have the same campaign consultant: Constantine Querard of Maricopa County.

Querard first came up in the news two years ago, when he sent out a mailing disguised as a Republican Party piece that offered to help folks with their early-ballot requests. Querard then hung on to the requests for weeks rather than forwarding them to Maricopa County officials for processing. What a guy!

Querard has now developed a cottage industry of helping extreme-ultra-far-right Republicans target moderates with Clean Elections dollars. And now he wants to help us Pima County voters figure out who we should send to the Arizona Legislature. Thanks, but no thanks, Constantine. Sell it to the suckers in Phoenix.


MONEY TROUBLES

Republican gubernatorial candidate Don Goldwater suffered another setback last week when the Clean Elections folks ordered a more thorough check of his application for public campaign dollars.

Goldwater has yet to get a check for $453,849 for his campaign, even though early voting is already well underway. Compare that to Len Munsil, the other major GOP candidate, who got his check way back in early May.

Goldwater is trying to spin the delay as good news. "Funding is anticipated within the next 10 days according to best-guess estimates from reputable sources within the Secretary of State's office," according to a campaign statement.

Hey, that's nearly two weeks before the election! Plenty of time to launch a campaign. There are no organizational problems here.


GET READY TO RUMBLE

The Democratic candidates vying for Congressional District 8--Gabrielle Giffords, Patty Weiss, Jeff Latas, Alex Rodriguez, Bill Johnson and Francine Shacter, in order of their finish in the Tucson Weekly/Wick Communications Poll--get their first big television debate on Arizona Illustrated this Friday, Aug. 25. Anchor Bill Buckmaster will be joined by Mark Kimble of the Tucson Citizen and Ernesto Portillo Jr. of the Arizona Daily Star for a one-hour special that starts at 6:30 p.m.

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