The Skinny

And They're Off!

You can now cast your ballot in Arizona's presidential primary

Early Hey, Arizona! Did you realize you can cast your ballot for president already?

That's right: Early voting has begun in Arizona's March 22 presidential primary.

Early campaigning, however, does not appear to be underway.

Everyone we talked to in recent days has told us that the machines for the major candidates are grinding away in other states. That's why you're not seeing TV ads, mailers, yard signs and all the other traditional signs that aim to persuade voters who have ballots in their living rooms.

It comes down to limited resources. The campaigns know they need wins—and the accompanying narrative of momentum that comes with it—in the states that are going to the polls now. It's do or die, so there's no big advantage of racking up early votes in Arizona rather than victories on Super Tuesday or Super Duper Tuesday, even if our 58 delegates are winner-take-all rather than proportional.

Here's how little anyone cares about Arizona: The last poll was in November and had Ben Carson in the GOP lead with 23 percent.

As far as we can tell, here's how the Arizona fault lines are breaking down: Marco Rubio is favored by the Chamber of Commerce crowd. His state campaign chairman is Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich and this week, he landed the endorsement of Sen. Jeff Flake.

Ted Cruz was savvy enough to tap GOP political consultant Constantin Querard as his state director. Querard, who long ago figured out how to work the Clean Elections program to elect conservatives and take out moderate Republicans, has deep ties to many state lawmakers. More than a dozen current and former legislators are part of Team Cruz, including two who are well known in Southern Arizona: former state senator Al Melvin and former state representative and unsuccessful congressional candidate Adam Kwasman.

And Donald Trump: Well, he doesn't seem to have your typical political machinery, but he has the support of those who can see through all the bullshit of this so-called government and are ready to take back the country from the libtards and traitorous RINOs who have brought us to ruin. And, and the endorsement of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

On the Democratic side, neither Hillary Clinton nor Bernie Sanders have yet committed significant resources to Arizona—much to the concern of some Hillary supporters, who are worried because they keep hearing the progressive wing talk about how much they love Bernie. U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva is one of just three members of Congress to endorse Sanders.

Clinton has the support of Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick, as well as Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly, who campaigned for her in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Wheels Up?

Another Democrat is talking about challenging U.S. Rep. Martha McSally

State Rep. Bruce Wheeler is back to talking about running against Republican Congresswoman Martha McSally—but only if it looks likely that Ted Cruz or Donald Trump will end up as the GOP presidential nominee.

"I'll only jump in if Trump or Cruz get the nomination," Wheeler told The Skinny. "If either of those buffoons are the nominee, I cannot ignore the race."

Wheeler worries that neither of the Democrats in the Congressional District 2 race, former state lawmakers Matt Heinz and Victoria Steele, has what it takes to put the seat back in the Democratic column.

"I don't think either one can take McSally," Wheeler said.

The other intriguing rumor of the week: State Sen. Steve Pierce is thinking about running in Congressional District 1.

Pierce would be the seventh Republican to join the CD1 GOP primary: There's House Speaker David Gowan, who is fending off accusations that he has been using a state-provided car to cruise around the district; Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, who has been fending off accusations that he ignored abusive practices when he ran a school for troubled youth in Massachusetts; former Secretary of State Ken Bennett; rancher and oilman Gary Kiehne; political newcomer Shawn Redd; and unsuccessful CD9 candidate Wendy Rogers.

In that kind of crowded field, who knows who wins?

The winner of the race would face Democrat Tom O'Halleran, who served in the Arizona Legislature as a Republican—and who lost his seat in a Republican primary to none other than Steve Pierce.

Three's Company

A political newcomer jumps in the race to replace Pima County Supe Carroll

The race to replace Pima County Supervisor Ray Carroll is getting a bit more crowded.

John Backer, an Air Force veteran and Sahuarita resident, says he wants a spot on the county Board of Supervisors.

Backer has worked as a computer programming, real-estate agent and insurance agent.

He joins Republicans Marla Closen, who has been running for the seat since last summer, and former car dealer Steve Christy, who announced his campaign for the seat shortly after Carroll announced his plans last month to step down at the end of this term.

Feel A Trumped Bern

Here's your chance to see a live Trump vs. Sanders debate

If you've been hoping to see a Trump vs. Sanders presidential debate, there's still a chance that the political gods will deliver that later this year.

But here's the next best thing: Comedians James Adomian and Anthony Atamanuik are touring the country as Bernie and The Donald, putting on a mock debate.

Here's how the Rialto Theatre describes it: "This election season, the Rialto has the debate that everyone wants to see—Trump vs. Bernie, featuring comedians Anthony Atamanuik as that short-fingered vulgarian Donald "The Donald" Trump, and James Adomian as everyone's favorite Larry David impersonator, Bernie Sanders. Bring a mop, because your sides will burst with explosive laughter, guaranteed."

The throwdown is at 8 p.m. Thursday, March 3, at the Rialto, 318 E. Congress St. Tickets are $15-$18. More details at

Zona Politics with Jim Nintzel airs at 8 a.m. Sunday on the CW Tucson, Channel 8 on Cox and Comcast and Channel 58 on Dish, DirecTV and broadcast. You can hear the show on KXCI, 91.3 FM, at 5 p.m. Sundays or online at This week's guests are Tucson City Councilman Steve Kozachik; Joel Feinman, a Democratic candidate for Pima County attorney; and Mort Rosenblum, a longtime foreign correspondent who teaches at the UA School of Journalism.