The Range

Calle a la Casa Blanca

We've finally got some poll numbers in the Feb. 5 Arizona presidential race! After months of having a major case of envy for all of the other states that have public surveys, we finally got one of our own: A new Cronkite-8 Poll came along last week to tell us about the pulse of Arizona's party animals.

(The Behavioral Research Center released a Rocky Mountain Poll with some numbers, too, but we don't trust those guys to get anything right.)

To no great surprise, McCain is still leading in Arizona, though his numbers seem a little soft for a hometown favorite. When asked if they had settled on a candidate, 28 percent of 375 Republicans said McCain, and 10 percent said Romney, with 52 percent undecided. But when they were pushed to make a decision, 41 percent said they liked McCain, while 18 percent like Romney, and 19 percent were undecided. The other clowns in the GOP primary were all in single digits either way. Margin of error: plus or minus 5 percent.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton had the support of 30 percent of 366 Democrats surveyed, while Barack Obama had 17 percent, with 47 percent undecided. When you count the leaners, Hillary climbs to 45 percent, and Obama ticks up to 24 percent, with 21 percent still undecided. The rest of the pack couldn't break 10 percent either way. Margin of error: 5.1 percent

The poll was taken after Gov. Janet Napolitano endorsed Obama, but before he kicked Hillary's ass in South Carolina.

What are Arizona Democrats going to go? We ain't sure, but we can tell you this: Obama, who was scheduled to drop by Phoenix this week, is putting up a fight. His campaign has left propaganda on our front door and has even added us to their press-release list, which is more than the snotty Hillary folks have done.

Obama also picked up the support of Congressman Raúl Grijalva, a gaggle of local state lawmakers and the female members of the Tucson City Council: Shirley Scott, Nina Trasoff, Karin Uhlich and Regina Romero. Plus, he brought in Hollywood star Kate Walsh of Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice to stump on the UA campus last week. Hillary, how come you're losing all the ladies?

A Solution to Overcrowded Classrooms?

Tucson Unified School District Superintendent Roger Pfeuffer recommended that the TUSD close four elementary schools: Corbett Elementary, Ochoa Elementary, Rogers Elementary and Wrightstown Elementary.

"Our strategy is to redirect funds for educational priorities," press-released Pfeuffer. "Our recommendation is to redirect resources to better serve students and enhance teaching and learning in TUSD."

The TUSD Governing Board was scheduled to review Pfeuffer's recommendation this week.

Solid Detective Work

A U.S. citizen who ended up in trouble with the law nearly found himself deported to Russia when federal immigration authorities didn't believe he was in the country legally.

Marisa Taylor of McClatchy Newspapers brought us the story last week of Thomas Warziniack, a troubled and possibly mentally ill man who ended up in the hands of federal immigration authorities and was locked up in Florence, Ariz. Warziniack was picked up on a minor drug charge and told police some crazy story about being a Russian army colonel.

The feds, not showing a great deal of critical thinking about the outlandish nature of Warziniack's story, decided to send him off to Russia. It took the intervention of Warziniack's sisters to get him out of jail after he'd spent weeks behind bars.

Federal officials said the case was handled properly.

We Shoot, We Score

The Arizona men's basketball team routed the Washington teams as they passed through McKale Center last week. In Thursday's game, the Wildcats dispatched Washington State, then No. 6 in the nation, by a score of 76-64, with Jerryd Bayless and Chase Budinger combining to score 45 of the Cats' points.

On Saturday, the Cats put it to Washington, with Bayless and Budinger combining for 51 points in a 84-69 triumph. Following the wins, the Cats were 14-6, 4-3 in Pac 10 play.

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