Campaign Cameos

FOUR MONTHS OF election coverage left some noteworthy memories:

· Assuming all along he was going to beat George Cunningham, Jim Kolbe ran a classic "Rose Garden" campaign. He avoided debates with his opponent, instead relying on 30-second TV commercials to get his environmental, health care and education messages across. At the one public forum in Sierra Vista attended by both candidates, Kolbe talked mostly in generalities. When the Weekly requested an interview in order to dig a little deeper, Kolbe's staff wanted to know in advance what the Congressman was going to be asked. Told the questions would not be the standard campaign stuff, the response was, "We'll get back to you." We're still waiting to hear from them.

· At a late-October public forum in Oro Valley for District 12 legislative hopefuls, the audience was much more interested in the ballot propositions than the candidates. While the propositions were admittedly confusing, the legislature does do some important things: adopt a budget, set public school policy and write the tax code. But maybe the lack of interest in the candidates' positions on anything other than the propositions reflects the growing irrelevancy of the legislature to most people.

· To try to combat the tons of money thrown at defeating the Citizens Growth Management Initiative, supporters ran TV spots featuring giant front-end loaders full of money bags to represent the huge amounts of public dollars spent to subsidize growth in Arizona. Of course, the commercials had to be filmed in California, since no self-respecting large equipment operators in our fair state would have allowed their machinery to be used in such a way.

· Among the strangest statements contained in the publicity pamphlet for the ballot propositions was State Treasurer Carol Springer's comment that passage of the Healthy Arizona 2 initiative could lead to more uninsured people. Her reasoning? "With an increase in government-provided insurance coverage, companies that currently provide insurance to their employees will see less of a reason to do so. Many may drop their health coverage, causing a substantial increase in uninsured Arizonans." Do you think she really believes that?

· Even more bizarre is the rumor that Tucson City Council member Fred Ronstadt is eyeing a run for Congress in two years. Seems Fred hopes a new district will be carved out of Southern Arizona to his liking. Fred's wife Pam did help on Jim Kolbe's re-election effort, and Fred himself was a stand-in for the frequently missing Congressman. But this idea sounds too far-fetched to be true.

· Can there be any doubt that Grant Woods is running for governor in 2002? Woods showed a compassionate side by backing the big-buck hospitals in their Healthy Children Healthy Families Proposition 200 effort. He was a populist and corruption fighter when he supported the redistricting reform offered by Proposition 106. And, of course, he sucked up to the development industry by switching sides on the Citizens Growth Management Initiative. So he has covered his political bases well, and a run for the top office in the state seems highly likely.

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