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MITT CLICKS WITH AZ GOP

It wasn't long after Gov. Jan Brewer declared that Arizona would hold its presidential primary on Feb. 28, 2012, that GOP presidential candidates started heading to our state.

Last week, Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann turned up in the Grand Canyon State, looking for campaign cash and supporters.

Bachmann made a high-profile appearance with Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, where she sucked up to the increasingly unhinged (but still astonishingly popular) lawman in hopes of snagging his endorsement. We bet Arpaio liked the pretty lady and her plan to spend a bazillion bucks building a big wall on every inch of land along the country's southern border with Mexico.

Romney, meanwhile, released his own list of supporters, including local auto-dealer and GOP ATM Jim Click, who is co-chairing Romney's Arizona campaign.

Click praised Romney's work as governor of Massachusetts and his stewardship of the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, saying in a press release that "Romney understands America's free-enterprise system and how it can work for everyone."

Romney also nailed down the support of Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, Secretary of State Ken Bennett and 17 state lawmakers, including House Speaker Andy Tobin and Rep. Peggy Judd of Willcox.

Romney's list of endorsers represents the (relatively) mainstream wing of the Arizona GOP. You don't, for example, find the names of firebrands like Sens. Russell Peace, Frank Antenori or Al Melvin on the list.

Romney is the first GOP presidential hopeful to release this kind of list of Arizona supporters. While the Republican candidates have been doing plenty of work in other early-primary states, the campaign organizations in our state had been quiet until last week.

Earlier this week, Romney added another big name to the list: Congressman Jeff Flake, the front-runner for the GOP nomination in the race to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl.

"The next president will be charged with reversing the failed policies of the last three years and making sure the future is as bright for our children as it was for the generations before them," Flake said in a press release. "Mitt Romney has the experience and vision to get our country on the right path again. Whether it was his time as governor or as a successful businessman, Mitt Romney has shown that he has the economic knowledge to create the environment for businesses to start hiring again."


SENATE SCRAMBLE

Speaking of the 2012 U.S. Senate race: Last week, attorney Don Bivens, the former chairman of the Arizona Democratic Party, e-mailed a letter saying he was testing the waters for a Senate run and would make an announcement in the coming weeks.

"I'm under no illusion that this race would be easy," Bivens wrote. "Naysayers will claim that professional politicians and Washington insiders can't be beat. And political pundits will spout conventional wisdom that candidates can't win without watering down their beliefs."

Bivens added that he "couldn't disagree more with this type of thinking. People seeking public office need to call it like they see it and stick to the values they believe in."

As messages go, it's an OK starter. But the post-SB 1070 political landscape in Arizona is a harsh and unforgiving environment for Democrats—and when Bivens was the head of the Arizona Democratic Party, he had trouble engineering wins even in 2008, which was a great year for Dems elsewhere.

It says a lot about the Democratic bench that some party leaders are hoping to recruit Richard Carmona, who served as surgeon general in the George W. Bush administration but later expressed frustration with the way that politics got in way of his job.

Carmona told The Associated Press last week he was thinking about the race, but he appeared less than enthusiastic about the idea.


REUSE OF REFUSE

We checked in with Green Party mayoral candidate Mary DeCamp earlier this week to find out what she thought about the city's Environmental Services Department, but she said she didn't have time to get into the details with us before the deadline for this week's story on trash collection. (See "Talking Trash")

But she did share with us one thought: She wants to see more stuff salvaged from the trash and given away to the citizens of the community.

"I've got a great idea about cutting down on our trash stream, and that would be opening up my community-conservation centers in each of our ... neighborhood associations and open up a really, really free store, where people can bring their slightly used things to be given away, traded off and passed along, so they never enter the waste bin," DeCamp says. "We've been running it for two years in Himmel Park, and it's a great way to proactively address the trash-stream problem and make use of dormant resources."


FURY OVER FAST AND FURIOUS

The Tucson Tea Party is bringing Congressman Paul Gosar and Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu to Pima County for a forum on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives' disastrous Fast and Furious gun-running investigation.

Fast and Furious was ostensibly aimed at tracking the spread of U.S.-bought weapons into Mexico. But the investigation got seriously off-track when hundreds of weapons went missing. Now the guns are turning up at crime scenes in the United States and Mexico, including the scene of the fatal shooting of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry last year.

The scandal has already consumed former rising Democratic star Dennis Burke, who was forced to resign from his job as U.S. attorney for Arizona as Republican lawmakers pushed for more investigation into the botched operation.

Trent Humphries, the organizer of the Tucson Tea Party, says the Fast and Furious operation was bad enough, but federal officials have also tried to hide the truth.

"If you're the ATF, and a mistake was made, just own up to it and say, 'This is why it happened, and this is why it's not going to happen again,'" Humphries says. "But there's a cover-up with this."

The forum is from 6 to 8 p.m. Mon-day, Sept. 26, at the Canyon del Oro High School's performance auditorium.


HUGH HOLUB, R.I.P.

The Skinny sends condolences to the family and many friends of Hugh Holub, the attorney, journalist and provocateur who died from complications from pneumonia on Monday, Sept. 19.

Holub led a life of adventure, whether he was reporting for the Tucson Citizen, practicing law, keeping the city of Nogales running smoothly or publishing his satirical Frumious Bandersnatch.

He's the man who first dreamed up the idea of creating Baja Arizona by splitting Pima County away from Maricopa County—a notion that seems more relevant today than ever.

Friends of Holub will gather from 4 to 7 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 24, at Hotel Congress, 311 E. Congress St. The family also suggests donations to the Tubac Presidio State Park, the Friends of the Santa Cruz River or the Anza Trail Coalition of Arizona.

More by Jim Nintzel

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