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RESIGN OF THE TIMES

With Senate Prez Tim Bee finally forming that exploratory committee as a first step toward challenging Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords next year, Democrats are starting to make a lot of noise about how he's sidestepping Arizona's resign-to-run law by serving out the rest of his legislative term.

Gabby herself got rather worked up over the idea during a recent appearance on John C. Scott's afternoon radio talk show.

"The law is pretty clear here in Arizona," Giffords said. "When the founding fathers--and mothers--put the law together when they created a Constitution and achieved statehood, (they were) really trying to make sure we don't have people running for office and serving simultaneously."

Founding fathers and mothers? Our researchers up at the state Legislature tell us the resign-to-run law was a ballot prop that passed in 1980. Wonder if the founding fathers--and mothers--were sitting around listening to "The Pina Colada Song" when they crafted that Constitution?

The Democrats want to gum up the works for Bee, who's trying to raise funds through the exploratory committee so he'll have a respectable bank account when it comes time to formally announce against Giffords, who has already raised more than a million bucks.

Will the Democrats go so far as to take Bee to court? It appears the only legal advice in the case is an old opinion by former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods, who said the law was vague enough that there were only two ways to tell if someone was a candidate: They file nomination papers, or declare they're running for something.

Democrats should be careful about making too much noise about resign-to-run regs. It might not be too long before a Democrat (say, maybe Gov. Janet Napolitano) decides she's interesting in pursuing a federal office (say, maybe the U.S. Senate in 2010).

In that case, we're sure Napolitano would like the chance to do some exploring of her own rather than resign from office in the run-up to that election.

Of course, that's presuming that Napolitano isn't serving as AG in the new Clinton administration. But to do that, Napolitano would have to give up the governor's seat to Secretary of State Jan Brewer--and she wouldn't do that to us, would she?


STUMBLEWATCH '07: SHOW US THE MONEY EDITION

Once again, it appears that John Kromko is a tiny David battling the mighty Growth Lobby Goliath. Kromko reports raising about $9,000 for his Tucson Water Users' Bill of Rights, which would repeal the city's garbage fee, ban the delivery of treated effluent to households and prohibit Tucson Water from hooking up new users without voter approval in about a decade. During a feisty session on last week on Arizona Illustrated, he said he had about $600 in the bank for the campaign.

The opposition, No on 200, has raised about $85,000, with big chunks coming from the Southern Arizona Home Builders Association ($30K), the Tucson Association of Realtors ($45K) and Metro Pima Alliance ($10K). We reckon there's more where that came from.

Kromko says he's seen a poll commissioned by his opposition that shows support for the initiative is somewhere around 65 percent. He reports that the most popular element is the idea of blocking new water hookups once Tucson Water is delivering 140,000 acre-feet of water annually, which roughly corresponds to the city's CAP allotment.

Voters who were polled were less concerned about the proposal to ban toilet-to-tap, while support for dumping the trash fee came in third.

That tells us that people are really sick of growth.

The big question: Can opponents of the initiative knock down the support before November? Answer: Probably, since they'll poke a bazillion holes in Kromko's measure, and he'll have no money to counter it.

There's little suspense regarding who voters are going to kick off the island in the Sept. 11 primary. Over in Ward 1, Democrat Regina Romero has raised about $41,700 and spent about $14,600. She's applied for matching funds, though we don't think she'll need them to win the primary against Ken Green, who has raised only $2,600.

Green has also applied for matching funds, although he initially messed up his filing and was expected to turn in an amended form this week. Given that auditors will still need to double-check his work, it could be a couple of weeks before he gets those matching funds, provided he qualifies. That means he might not get the extra dollars until after Election Day.

Romero might want to just leave those matching funds in the city treasury, since she doesn't have a general-election opponent. (Sure, Green Beryl Baker may get the 18 write-in votes she needs to get her name on the ballot, but let's not kid ourselves about her ultimate chances.)

Over in Ward 2, Rodney Glassman has raised more than $46,000--all in those $20 increments we're already tired of hearing about--and qualified for matching funds, although he hasn't tapped that line of credit just yet. His primary opponent, Robert Reus, has raised $462 and had $32.79 left in the bank at the end of the reporting period.

Glassman's challenge isn't the primary, which he'll easily win. It's the general election, where he'll face Republican Lori Oien.

Oien is doing her best to make it a real race, although she's still struggling on the fundraising front. She's raised about $17K and burned through about $4,400. Oien has qualified for matching funds, so she's eligible for a big check from the city.

Mayor Bob Walkup has raised more than $46,000 for his re-election campaign, which should cover the bills, given that Democrats didn't field a candidate. Walkup's only obstacle is Green Party candidate Dave Croteau, who has raised about $3,157, mostly in $10 to $25 contributions. He had just $1,733 left in the bank as of Aug. 22.

Croteau says that "Greens don't run on money; they walk on principle." They undoubtedly also lose with dignity.


FLIP FLOP?

For some time, Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard's staff has been investigating allegations of vote flipping in last year's Regional Transportation Authority election conducted by Pima County.

The AG's office isn't commenting on the investigation, but the state agency and Pima County teamed up to hire the firm iBeta to analyze the results. The company has prepared a draft report, which has been reviewed by John Moffat of Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry's office.

Moffat recently said he's still waiting to see the final report, which he called "pretty imminent."

Someone who hasn't seen the draft report but would sure like to: Bill Risner, attorney for the Pima County Democratic Party. Risner first raised the flipping charge.

Even though he expect the report to be a "whitewash," Risner has filed a public-records request to obtain a copy of it. Risner remains skeptical about the entire investigation into the election.

"The suspect (Pima County) and the prosecutor (Attorney General's Office) jointly finance a part of the investigation and keep it a secret between them," he complains.

In a recent letter to the AG, Risner also asked: "Does your office share information with other suspects in other criminal investigations? We think not."

Risner raises two other points about the AG's investigation. He says Pima County officials have asserted that employees in the Elections Division may invoke their Fifth Amendment rights to avoid self-incrimination if they are questioned in the investigation. He also says something that may be a key piece of evidence--which even the AG's Office calls "of interest"--can't be located.

The entire AG investigation, says Risner, is "rather curious."

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