Robo Call

Project White House candidates talk robots! Plus: Your chance to vote for the 'Tucson Weekly' Readers' Endorsement!

Five candidates appearing on Arizona's Feb. 5 presidential primary ballot tackled topics ranging from the 1872 Mining Act to the wedge issue of robo-marriage at an impromptu televised debate last weekend.

Democrats Michael Oatman, Libby "Doctress Neutopia" Hubbard, Chuck See and Peter "Simon" Bollander joined Republican Charles Skelley on Oatman's public-access program, Illegal Knowledge, for the one-hour forum, which was moderated by Tucson Weekly senior writer Jim Nintzel.

Most of the candidates agreed that there was little likelihood of robots overthrowing the human race, even if the mechanical men have taken over many of the jobs that humans used to do.

But Bollander expressed concerns about job losses if home construction and other industries were turned over to robots.

On the more controversial question of human-robot marriage, the candidates expressed a range of opinions, from Neutopia's call for a radical redefinition of marriage to Oatman's suggestion that government have no role in marriage whatsoever.

Bollander said his position would largely depend on the robot's physical appearance.

"If there was a robot that was attractive and looked real, I would look at this thing like it was human," Bollander said. "Right now, robots are metal and so forth, so I don't think it would be a very attractive robot, so I would turn this robot down flatly as far as marriage."

The hastily arranged forum came just days before the candidates were scheduled to meet on Wednesday, Jan. 23, in the official Tucson Weekly/Access Tucson/Project White House Dark Horse Presidential Candidate Debate, which is seen by most pundits as a make-or-break opportunity for many of the unknown candidates to introduce themselves to Arizona voters.

A home run at the official Tucson Weekly/Access Tucson/Project White House Dark Horse Presidential Candidate Debate (which will replay five nights a week on Cox Channel 99 and Comcast Channel 74 through Election Day) could be the key to winning Project White House, the Reality Journalism competition that pits candidates on Arizona's Feb. 5 presidential primary ballot against each other in the hopes of winning the coveted Tucson Weekly endorsement--if not Arizona delegates to the respective parties' national conventions.

Full details on the competition and more info about the PWH candidates can be found at the PWH Web site.

The stakes in the competition were raised last week with the introduction of a new prize: the Tucson Weekly Readers' Endorsement. A new online voting program allows Weekly readers to pick their favorite Project White House candidate.

The initial round, which wrapped earlier this week, eliminated all but five of the candidates in the Republican race. The final five Republicans: Charles Skelley, Sean "CF" Murphy, Frank McEnulty, John McGrath and Rhett Smith.

But two divisions in the Democratic race ended in a tie vote. In the Johnson Division, Tish Haymer tied with Leland Montell, while in the Udall Division, Chuck See tied with Oatman. Candidates in both divisions are now in a runoff election that will continue until 11 a.m., Friday, Jan. 25.

The three other Democrats in the final round are Sandy Whitehouse, Doctress Neutopia and Richard Grayson.

The Tucson Weekly's Readers' Endorsement vote was marred by controversy when a computer-programming error caused the polls to close one hour early. Find up-to-the-minute updates on the ballot crisis at the Project White House Web site. Weekly readers can vote for their favorite Democrat and Republican at the PWH blog.

In other Project White House news: Republican Sean "CF" Murphy addressed the Saturday Morning Breakfast Club last weekend. Murphy told the constitutional forum, which meets for a weekly breakfast at the Olive R Twist bar and restaurant, that he needed their help in developing his platform, because he'd had little opportunity to poll voters about the positions that would win him the most votes. "What I don't know is unimportant for now," Murphy said as he unveiled a chart he called his Uni-Modular President/Citizen Solution Matrix. "What's important is what you think. Before you jump to any conclusions, let me tell you that having no idea where I stand is not a weakness, but a strength, and is only half of what will make me a great president. The other half is you, fellow citizens." Murphy's plea for help in solidifying his positions on various issues came as part of a "listening tour" that he announced with a new campaign ad that appeared last week on the Project White House YouTube Channel.

According to sources close to Murphy's campaign, the listening tour was launched after Murphy received a questionnaire from the Center for Arizona Policy covering 14 different topics. With no clear idea of what answers the advocacy group wanted to hear (and with little time for his staff to do much research in the six days he had to return the form), Murphy simply circled "undecided" for each question.

The Murphy campaign then released the new campaign ad asking for advice.

"My administration will be for the people, of the people, but most importantly, by the people," Murphy declared. "Once I get in office, I'll be expecting you to do most of the work anyway, so why not start now? I urge you to contact me as soon as possible and tell me where I should stand on any issues you can think of. Whatever the majority of you decide is where I will end up taking my firm stand ... for now."

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