Filler Deceptive Price?

A Fundraising Letter From Statehouse Candidate Mike Price Infuriates City Councilman José Ibarra.
By Jim Nintzel

WARD 1 CITY Councilman José Ibarra nearly hit the roof last week when he saw a fundraising letter sent by Mike Price, who is running in a five-way race for the state House Of Representatives in south-central District 11.

On stationary bearing the slogan "Will work...for VOTE!," Price wrote in part, "Your contribution to the José Ibarra campaign last year was most appreciated."

The letter has Ibarra incensed.

"This guy's a pathetic joke," says Ibarra. "You can quote me on that. I've never even met the guy. I was extremely upset about this."

"I don't know what his problem is," Price responds. "Nowhere in the letter do I say he endorses me or anything. What I did was get a copy of everybody's campaign contributors for every single race imaginable in any of the areas in my area. This is what I've done for the last 10 years. I mean, nobody else has ever been upset, and I'm talking 20 or 30 candidates, probably."

In fact, for this campaign alone, Price says he mailed the same letter to everyone who contributed to the campaigns of the four candidates Ibarra beat in the Ward 1 primary last year, as well as financial supporters of various legislative candidates.

Ibarra admits that copying a list of campaign contributors is common practice, but gripes that Price's use of his name violated, at the very least, campaign etiquette.

"Everybody gets everybody's lists and sends out letters," Ibarra says. "But to use my name was false advertising."

Price remains unchagrined about the affair. Asked why he thanked them for the contribution to the Ibarra campaign, he says: "Prior to that statement, I said their support of candidates is really important, and prior to that I said I appreciate their continuing to participate in the process. I'm encouraging them to stay involved and I appreciate the fact that they're supporting candidates, because not many candidates can get support."

The letter begins: "I just wanted to thank you for your involvement in the community and for your support of candidates who reflect our views and interests. Your contribution to the José Ibarra campaign last year was most appreciated."

Ibarra responded with a letter of his own to his supporters, which reads:

"I was quite appalled by the audacity of Mr. Price to use my name in his letter without my permission in order to gain your support. I have not spoken to Mr. Price nor have I ever met him."

Ibarra used the opportunity to smear Susan Chambers Castellos, who is running against Ibarra's mentor, Pima County Supervisor Raul Grijalva, in the Democratic primary.

"Mr. Price is a Republican turned Democrat, just like Susan Chambers Costellos (sic), who has switched parties solely for the purpose of personal gain. This letter clearly exemplifies how unscrupulous and unethical these two Republicans are and should give you an indication of the representation our community would get from people like Mr. Price and Ms. Costellos (sic).

"This type of misrepresentation is unexcusable, and I urge you not to be fooled by these Republicans in Democrat clothing. Remember their unethical behavior when you are at the polls...."

Price has previously run for the District 10 House seat three times as a Republican. He also lost running on the GOP ticket for the Ward 1 City Council seat in 1991. He says he's "come home" to the Democratic Party, having previously registered as a Republican so he could vote in primaries on Tucson's eastside.

Although Price describes himself as "a Renaissance-type guy," his fundraising letter suggests his wide range of skills doesn't include command of the English language:

"My and my wife's ancestors were pioneers, helping to build Tucson and much of what we now take for granted. Her family...had stage lines and wagon trains which brought people and goods to this part of the state. Pedro Aquirre built the first school in Arizona at Arivaca where it still stands. The gas station in Sells and the Aguirre Cattle Company in Redrock. The first Director of women's studies at the university was a relative. The Price family had ranches and businesses all over the state. From the town of Price just east of Florence to Camp Price near Rucker Canyon in the southeast part of the state. In mining, farming, law, medicine and politics across Arizona. The dedication to community in service and justice cannot be questioned. Even in the smallest of villages in remote areas of the many tribes know me, I help feed their cattle in times of drought and bring food, clothing and toys to their children. Being part Penobscot it is my obligation."

As one political insider observes, "Quite charming, if you don't care about grammar, syntax or substance." TW

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