Statehouse Stashes

Legislative Candidates Show Us The Money.

A LEGISLATIVE candidate's life isn't all glamorous party meetings, heart-racing debates and calorie-burning door-to-door campaigning.

There's also the drudgery of raising campaign cash, at least for those candidates who have chosen not to participate in the state's new publicly financed campaign program, which was created by the narrow passage of the Clean Elections Act on the 1998 ballot. Because a legal cloud hovered over the program until last June, many candidates chose to stick with the tried-and-sometimes-true method of gathering checks from individuals and political action committees. (For details, see "Money For Nothing," August 3.)

According to the most recent regularly filed fundraising reports, covering activity through May 31, the biggest fundraiser in Pima County isn't even an incumbent. It's Toni Hellon, a well-connected Republican who had raised $47,969. She had spent $12,510.

Currently an aide to Pima County Supervisor Mike Boyd, Hellon is seeking the District 12 Senate seat that is now held by Republican Ann Day. (Forced out of the legislature by term limits, Day is seeking Boyd's seat on the board of supervisors.)

Hellon is facing former lawmaker Scott Alexander in the September 12 Republican primary. Alexander had raised only $5,532 by May 31, including $4,226 he loaned his campaign. Alexander, who now works as a political consultant, says he's running an old-fashioned grassroots campaign, traveling door-to-door in the district in an electric car equipped with a laptop computer and cellphone.

The winner of the GOP primary will face Democrat Mark Osterloh, who has qualified as a Clean Elections candidate. He can spend up to $15,000 in the general election. If his GOP opponent spends more than $15,000 in the general, then he'll be eligible for matching funds up to $45,000.

While that's enough money to make it a race, Republicans hold an 11-point voter registration advantage in District 12, which includes north-central Tucson, the western half of the Catalina Foothills and Oro Valley.

It's a different story in District 13, which covers north-central Tucson and the eastern Catalina Foothills. The voter registration (26,213 Republicans, 25,543 Democrats and 10,567 voters not registered with either major party) makes it a swing district. Given the GOP's narrow 16-14 advantage in the state Senate, District 13 appears to be the big prize in the November sweepstakes.

The Senate seat is now held by Democrat George Cunningham, who is leaving the legislature to run for the Congressional District 5 office now held by Republican Jim Kolbe. (Cunningham is facing county prosecutor Mary Judge Ryan in the Democratic primary.)

Both House members, Democrat Andy Nichols and Republican Kathleen Dunbar, are hoping for a promotion to the Senate. The state Republican Party, eager to add to its advantage, will be spending a lot of money on a campaign to boost Dunbar, while the state Democratic Party is also organizing a campaign to aid Nichols. Independent campaigns are also said to be waiting in the wings.

Nichols had an early lead in the dash for cash, having raised $12,903 by May 31. He'd spent $3,502, leaving him with $9,401. Dunbar, meanwhile, had raised $6,318 and spent only $480.

In the race for the two open House seats, four Democrats are squaring off in the primary. Three of them, Dr. Howard Shore, realtor Colette Barajas and UA anthropology professor Ted Downing, are running as Clean Elections candidates, making them eligible for $10,000 in the primary election and $15,000 in the general.

The fourth Democrat, Gabrielle Giffords, says she would have run as a Clean Elections candidate if there hadn't been a legal cloud over the system. In mid-May, however, she decided to go the traditional route. As of May 31, Giffords had raised $3,337.

The two winners of the Democratic primary will face two Republicans, Jonathan Paton and Carol Somers. Paton, a part-time teacher, has demonstrated considerable fundraising prowess, having raised $19,922 by May 31, including $16,223 from individual contributors and $3,363 from political action committees. He says he's now raised roughly $30,000.

Somers has raised $11,605 and spent $2,106, leaving her with $9,499.

In District 9, which includes southeast Tucson, Green Valley and Sierra Vista, Republicans hold a 13 percentage-point registration advantage.

Because he's reached his term limit, District 9 Sen. Keith Bee is retiring (and said to be eyeing Lisa Graham Keegan's state superintendent of public instruction post in 2002).

District 9 Rep. Bill McGibbon has also reached his term limit, so he's looking for a promotion to the open Senate seat. His stint in the House has left him with a formidable warchest of $36,846 as of May 31. He'd spent $8,202, leaving him with $28,644.

A conservative rancher, McGibbon faces a primary challenge from the incumbent's brother, Tim Bee. As of May 31, however, Bee had raised only $575 and spent $481, leaving him with a mere $94 in the bank.

The winner of the GOP primary will face one of three Democrats vying for the nomination: Plumber Jim Jaster (who had raised $2,422), teacher Kathy Ramage-White ($3,020) and travel agent Matt Welch ($1,705).

With McGibbon taking a shot at the Senate seat and Rep. Lou-Ann Preble retiring because she's hit her term limit, five Republicans are fighting for the two House seats. The strongest contenders are Marion McClure and Parralee Schneider. As of May 31, McClure had raised $5,448 and spent $2,453. Schneider had raised $7,327, including $5,000 she loaned the campaign, and had spent $1,115.

The other Republicans in the primary, Randy Graf, Mike Jenkins and Kerry Clawson, had all raised less than $500. Clawson is running as a Clean Elections candidate, which will make him eligible for $10,000 for the primary and an additional $15,000 for the general election, provided he can raise 200 contributions of $5 from District 9 residents by August 24.

Democrat Dave Bradley, who will face the winner of the GOP primary, had raised $5,113 as of May 31 and had spent $2,500, leaving him with $2,613 in the bank.

For more in-depth info on campaign finance reports, visit the Secretary of State's website at
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