The Range

Arizona Hates Fife!

Pastry chef J. Fife Symington III would get squashed flat in a race against Gov. Janet Napolitano! The former Republican governor who declared bankruptcy and resigned after being temporarily found guilty of federal fraud charges in 1997 recently ran his comeback candidacy up the ol' flagpole, leading Maricopa County pollster Bruce Merrill to ask a random sample who they'd like in the top job.

The answer: A full 70 percent favor Napolitano, while Fife barely registered in the double-digits at 14. Stick a fork in him--he's done!

Janet also clobbers two other would-be GOP challengers, landing 50 percent of the voters against the 25 percent who support former Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley, and 44 percent to Congressman J.D. Hayworth's 28 percent. Is that worth chucking a Washington job that pays a whole bunch better? Not if you're smart, but we are talking about J.D. Hayworth. Hey, J.D.: What's this we hear about you going all Joe Scarborough and joining the ranks of right-wing pundits?

And let us ask Republicans: Who else ya got on the bench?

Other fun facts from the poll of 400 registered voters statewide by Phoenix PBS affiliate KAET-TV:

· More than three out of four voters surveyed--78 percent--dislike the idea of allowing mixing guns and booze. Senate Bill 1363, which would allow people to pack in restaurants that serve alcohol, has passed the judiciary and rules committees and was awaiting action on the Senate floor as of press time.

· Another 78 oppose letting pharmacists refuse to fill prescriptions that violate their moral values. A bill allowing pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions for RU-486 and the "morning-after pill," which can abort or prevent pregnancies, passed the House of Representatives on a 35-21 vote earlier this week and has been transmitted to the Senate.

· A full 73 percent support allowing community colleges to offer four-year degrees, which remained viable legislation as of press time.

· More than two-thirds of voters--68 percent--favor banning junk food on school campuses. A bill establishing nutritional standards has passed two House committees and is awaiting a hearing in the rules committee.

This Is Only a Test

Finally, an issue that brings Republicans and Democrats together at the Capitol: wussing out on the AIMS test. Worried about the high failure rates of members of the Class of '06, who must pass AIMS to graduate, lawmakers are pushing an alternative that allows students to earn a diploma if they take the high-stakes test five times, earn at least a C in required courses, make it to class 95 percent of the time their senior year and take at least 75 hours of tutoring classes to pass AIMS.

Senate President Ken Bennett has vowed to block the legislation, which is opposed by state schools chief Tom Horne.

Go, Wildcats!

Bowing to demands from undergrads, as well as well heeled alumni who were tired of paying big bucks to stare at some frat boy's ass because he insisted on standing for the entire game, UA Athletic Director Jim Livengood announced that the students would get their own seating section at the north end of McKale Center beginning next season. The kids will be squeezed in at the north end of the court, where the blaring fight songs of the Pride of Arizona will drown out much of their hootin' and hollerin'.

Speakin' o' squeezin': Seating will be general admission, so students will have to hang outside McKale for hours before racing inside to grab the best seats. Nothing says school spirit like long waits and mob rule!

Up in the Pacific Northwest, the men's basketball team followed a nail-biting 57-56 victory in overtime over Washington State with a troubling 93-85 loss against Washington. General media spin: The wussy Cats need to toughen up!

The team closes out the regular season this Saturday against ASU and then plays in the pointless Pac-10 tourney before March Madness begins.

In other UA sports news, the UA softball team, ranked No. 1 in the nation by, remains undefeated on the season, including a 7-0 shutout over Louisiana Tech last Saturday, Feb. 26. Pitcher Alicia Hollowell, who already had a perfect game last month in an abbreviated contest against Tennessee-Chattanooga, threw her third no-hitter of the season, striking out 16.

The Verdict Is Guilty

John Montenegro Cruz was convicted of first-degree murder in the killing of Tucson Police Officer Patrick Hardesty, who was gunned down while pursuing the meth-addled Cruz in May 2003. The Pima County Superior Court jury didn't buy Cruz's defense that some guy named "Shorty" fired the five fatal shots at Hardesty, including two at point-blank range.

Cruz faces the death sentence in the upcoming penalty phase of the trial.

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