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BOYCOTTING RAÚL

The blogosphere has lit up this week with rumors of polls showing that Congressman Raúl Grijalva was in a dead heat with little-known Republican candidate Ruth McClung.

We haven't seen any of these polls, but even Democrats are telling us that Grijalva has a much bigger fight on his hands than he anticipated.

Part of it has to do with the national mood, but there's another big reason: Grijalva called for a boycott of the state in the wake of the signing of SB 1070. That's the kind of dumb political move that results from believing that you're politically untouchable. If Grijalva had been playing it smart, he would have waited for outside groups to announce their boycotts and then pointed out that the Republicans who supported the law created problems for the state.

Instead, Republicans were able to say that Grijalva was the person responsible for the boycotts.

And Grijalva knows it was a stupid thing to do: You'll notice that he walked back his boycott call after a federal judge blocked most of the immigration law.

We suspect Grijalva will prevail on Election Day. McClung doesn't have much in the way of financial resources for the race—her most recent Federal Election Commission report shows that she's raised less than $70,000 and had less than $15,000 on hand as of early August.

But Grijalva isn't exactly made of money, either.

In another example of hubris, he'd raised less than a half-million dollars for his campaign and managed to already spend all but $76,000 of that, leaving him cash-poor going into the general election. Way to blow money on the cell-phone bills, Raúl.

Any resources that Democrats have to expend on helping Grijalva will siphon money and attention away from vulnerable Democrats such as Gabrielle Giffords, Harry Mitchell and Ann Kirkpatrick.


RIALTO THEATRICS

We told you last week that the Rio Nuevo Board had pushed the Rialto Theatre Foundation to the edge of bankruptcy by threatening to evict the nonprofit over a rent dispute.

We'll spare you a recap, other than to reiterate that it seems to us that few improvements are more important to a concert hall than a sound system, and we remain baffled by the Rio Nuevo board members' insistence on dismissing the investment of hundreds of thousands of dollars on the new system.

But we did want to update you on the latest: The Rio Nuevo board voted last week to negotiate with attorneys from the Rialto Theatre Foundation, in hopes of coming to a settlement that would allow the foundation to continue running the historic theater. The two sides have until Oct. 7 to work out a deal.

"We look forward to working with the Rio Nuevo board to come to a better understanding on our hard work in revitalizing downtown," says Doug Biggers, executive director of the Rialto Theatre Foundation (and a former publisher of the Tucson Weekly).

Jodi Bain, the chair of the Rio Nuevo board, says she "would certainly hope" that something could be worked out between Rio Nuevo and the Rialto Theatre Foundation.

We certainly hope for the same thing.


DEBATING THE MELVIN-CAGE DEBATE, PART 37

Dave Perry of the Explorer newspaper has put up with a lot of crap as he's attempted to plan a Legislative District 26 Senate debate between Republican state Sen. Al Melvin and his Democratic rival, Cheryl Cage.

Most recently, Melvin demanded that the debate not be held at a public school, and that it include the district's House of Representatives candidates. Perry said he was open to changing the venue away from Mountain View High School, but he wouldn't invite the three House candidates, because having that many people would have "watered down" the debate.

At the time, Cage said Melvin's demands were manipulative to the voters and the media.

But now that Melvin has dropped his call for a five-way debate and offered to attend a one-on-one hosted by the paper at a BASIS charter school, Cage is doing some manipulating of her own.

"I want to make it very clear that this is a second debate for us," she says. "I'm still expecting him to come to Mountain View (High School)."

It's not a very reasonable expectation, given that she knows Melvin will not be there. But Cage says she already promised to be at Mountain View, so if Melvin wants to debate at BASIS, it will have to be on a different day or at a different time.

"The bottom line is I am committed to a 6:30 (p.m., Thursday, Sept. 30) debate at Mountain View," Cage says.

The stunt is another roadblock for Perry, who has made extremely reasonable accommodations to get this debate going. Nonetheless, Cage says she is willing to stand alone at Mountain View and miss the (possible) debate at BASIS to make a point.

"If (Melvin) chooses 6:30, then it is a clear indication that he is scared to death of me and of the voters," she says.

Since this debate may never happen, we suggest checking out the SaddleBrooke League of Women Voters forum (which is not a debate), scheduled for 2 p.m., Friday, Sept. 24, at Mountain View Clubhouse, 38759 S. Mountain View Blvd.

You can also see both candidates on KUAT Channel 6's Arizona Illustrated next Monday, Sept. 27, in a debate moderated by Arizona Public Media's Bill Buckmaster.

Speaking of Arizona Illustrated: You can catch the candidates for the Arizona House of Representatives in Legislative District 28 (Democrats Steve Farley and Bruce Wheeler, and Republican Ken Smalley) on Tuesday, Sept. 28.

And then on Wednesday, Sept. 29, Republican state Sen. Frank Antenori takes on Democratic challenger Todd Camenisch. Will Todd kick Frank's ass? Will Frank bury Todd like a freakin' fish in the backyard? (And if you're wondering why we're asking these questions, check out "Senate Showdown," Page 16.)

Arizona Illustrated airs at 6:30 p.m. on Channel 6.


MAD MEET-UP

Longtime foreign correspondent Mort Rosenblum, who now teaches at the UA School of Journalism, has a new book out about reporting abroad: Little Bunch of Madmen: Elements of Global Reporting.

The title comes from a quote: "Whenever you see hundreds of thousands of sane people trying to get out of a place, and a little bunch of madmen struggling to get in, you know the latter are newspapermen."

Rosenblum will be discussing the state of the Fourth Estate with a crew of journalists with extensive overseas reporting experience: Jacqueline Sharkey, the head of the UA Journalism School; Charles Sennott of GlobalPost; and Gary Knight of VII Photo Agency. The panel will be moderated by Nancy Sharkey, a former New York Times senior editor who now teaches at the UA Journalism School.

The press release promises the forum will address many questions: "In a wired world, with a 24/7 stream of information flowing to our perpetually lit machines, how do we make sense of the world around us? How do we make critical distinctions about the quality of information or the integrity of those reporting and producing? How do we separate what's important from what's merely popular?"

The free event is at 4 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 25, at the Museum of Contemporary Art, 265 S. Church Ave.

(Full disclosure: Jim Nintzel also teaches the black arts in the UA Journalism School.)

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