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Presenting a perspicacious plethora of points worth pondering apropos the pending primary.

And they're rounding the final stretch ...

Or so it seems, as primary election day arrives next Tuesday, September 11. The only real action is for people voting Democratic in two wards: south-central Ward 5, where Jesse Lugo has taken aim at Councilman Steve Leal, and north-central Ward 3, where Vicki Hart and Paula Aboud are fighting for the chance to advance to the citywide general election, where the nominee will face Republican Kathleen Dunbar, Libertarian Jonathan Hoffman and Green Ted O'Neill. So if you're not eligible to vote Democratic in either of those wards, you can quit reading now and skip right over to the sex ads in the back of the book.

Also on that November 6 fight card: Ward 6 Republican Councilmember Fred Ronstadt vs. Democrat Gayle Hartmann. Neither candidate in that race faces a primary.

If you haven't been paying much attention, this breezy guide should bring you up to speed. For more in-depth coverage on the races, you'll find plenty of archived analysis from the last three months on this web site.

Independent voters--those who aren't signed up with the Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians or Greens--are eligible to vote in the Democratic primaries. (Technically, the "others," as they're known around City Hall, are eligible to cast ballots in any party's primary, but it's hard to imagine why they'd bother to vote in a primary where's there's no contest.)

Not registered to vote but still want to play? Sorry--you're out of luck this round, but if you fill out the proper paperwork before October 8, you can vote in the general election.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call the City Clerk's Office at 791-4213.

ONE TERM IN OFFICE was enough to extinguish the fire in the belly of Ward 3 Councilman Jerry Anderson, who announced earlier this year he would not seek re-election.

Five candidates have stepped into the ring to replace Anderson. Next week, Ward 3 Democrats will narrow that number to four as they choose between Democrats Paula Aboud and Vicki Hart.

Both candidates, who agree more than they disagree, would likely continue Anderson's socially liberal agenda. Both say they've got the best chance to beat Republican Kathleen Dunbar on November 6.

With an eye on Dunbar's well-oiled campaign (and their own slow fundraising pace), both candidates have run low-budget campaigns, hoping to conserve their financial resources for the upcoming general-election battle.

With backing from the Neighborhood Coalition of Greater Tucson, former Councilmember Molly McKasson and a list of neighborhood activists, Aboud has sewn up the support that has carried the day in recent Ward 3 Democratic primaries. Aboud also has endorsements from both daily papers, former Mayor George Miller and former Ward 3 Councilmember Michael Crawford.

Hart, meanwhile, has tapped friends such as Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall and LaWall's chief deputy (and congressional candidate) Mary Judge Ryan. Unfortunately for Hart, the timing could hardly be worse: LaWall is currently getting some of the worst headlines of her administration as her office grapples with charges of misconduct.

Libertarian Jonathan Hoffman and Green Ted O'Neill will also appear on the general election ballot.

CAN THE GROWTH LOBBY push its favored candidate to an upset win over an incumbent who has the backing of the southside political machine?

That's the question in Ward 5, where Democrat Jesse Lugo is giving Councilmember Steve Leal the toughest challenge of his 12 years in the Ward 5 office.

As you can see from the accompanying chart, the two candidates disagree on about everything, from background checks at gun shows to smoking in restaurants.

But ideology may prove less important than the aggressive get-out-the-vote effort within the ward. Lugo has done a hell of a job canvassing Ward 5's precincts, steadily moving door-to-door to introduce himself to high-propensity voters.

Whether that personal touch will sway voters remains to be seen. A veteran of neighborhood politics, Leal has picked up the endorsement of the Neighborhood Coalition of Greater Tucson, both daily rags and the Tucson Weekly. Organized labor has backed him with an independent campaign effort to capture early ballots. Pima County Supervisor Dan Eckstrom, who has no love for Lugo's political circle, has thrown his considerable political weight behind the incumbent.

Lugo has grabbed support from Leal's political enemies, such as billboard baron Karl Eller, legendary land speculator Don Diamond and car dealer Jim Click. The Growth Lobby has also contributed more than $10,000 to Citizens for Alert Government, an independent campaign committee that's backing Lugo with mailers, phone calls and billboards. Among the group's biggest contributors: legendary land speculator Don Diamond, auto dealer Jim Click and a host of other developers (for details, see this week's Skinny).

Lugo and his political allies have been working hard to build Leal's negatives, complaining that Leal doesn't work hard enough and abuses his city car privilages. Leal shouldn't be surprised to see another lowball hit before election day.

One thing is certain: Voters in Ward 5 are showing an interest in the race. More than 1,375 voters have requested early ballots for the Democratic primary. Two years ago, in the mayoral Democratic primary, only 2,400 people voted in the Democratic primary--and just 331 of them voted early.

The winner of the primary will face no opponent in the November 6 general election.

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