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NORTH BY NORTHWEST: The newly drawn Legislative District 26, which stretches west from Craycroft Road across the Catalina Foothills and into the booming northwest side, contains most of the former heavily Republican District 12 and the GOP parts of the old District 13.

Among the residents are three Republican state representatives: Carol Somers, Pete Hershberger and Steve Huffman. Hershberger had to move to get into the new district, while Somers stayed in her home, so you can argue over who the real incumbents are.

But Huffman and Hershberger, seatmates in the old District 12, are running as a team with incumbent state senator Toni Hellon, much to the chagrin of Somers and others. Hellon says she made the team decision before the new districts were cut, a call that has many wondering about her supposed political acumen. Remember, this is the lady who publicly endorsed then-California Governor Pete Wilson's presidential run back in 1996--about five minutes before the campaign went belly-up.

Hershberger's biggest problem doesn't stem from his quasi-carpetbagger status, but from the fact that he's more likely to support a Democratic bill than some Democrats. He is also not known as one of the brighter bulbs in a legislative light display not noted for its massive wattage.

Huffman's problems are even greater. He has a general reputation as a self-aggrandizing sneak with delusions of someday weaseling his way up to governor. He has a history of relying on last-minute attacks on his primary opponents, including hits on former incumbents Dan Schottel and even teammate Pete Hershberger's mom, Freddie Hershberger. He once compared radio talk-show host John C. Scott to Bill Clinton in a last-minute mailer.

Somers has a reputation as a bright lawmaker and hard worker. Barring some effective sleaze by Huffman, we predict she'll lead the ticket.

Somers has raised more money than the other candidates, pulling in more than $41,317 as of May 31. Huffman had raised $22,700, while Hershberger had raised $23,376.

The three candidates have been spending plenty on their campaigns, which has added to the campaign coffers of the fourth candidate in the race, Saddlebrooke resident Stuart Watkins. Watkins is the only candidate to have filed under the state's Clean Elections program, which gives public money to legislative candidates who qualify by collecting at least 200 $5 contributions from within their districts.

Watkins got an initial $16,185 check from the state. Since then, he's gotten two additional checks for $4,561 and $2,566, leaving him with $23,312 for his campaign.

We don't know if he knows how to spend it, but wouldn't it be a hoot to see him put it to good use knocking off both Huffman and Hershberger?


CLEANING UP: In the governor's race, Republican Betsey Bayless is also benefiting from the Clean Elections matching-fund provision. The Arizona Secretary of State got an initial check for $409,950 for her GOP primary campaign.

But opponent Matt Salmon, the three-term congressman who is raising funds the old-fashioned way, has broken that spending threshold, meaning that Bayless is picking up weekly checks for mo' money. As of July 25, she had received more than $545,000 for her campaign.

The other Republican in the race, state Treasurer Carol Springer, has yet to qualify for Clean Election funds.


THE ICEMAN COMETH: Rodney "Richie Rich" Glassman, the son of a huge Fresno farming family and titular head of Gateway Ice Center, dumped a cool grand into the Congressional campaign of Raúl Grijalva, not two months after Grijalva dismissed him in The Weekly as a "liability."

Grijalva casts himself as the candidate for all farm workers. He had Richard Martinez, a charter member of the Grijalva cabinet, split with a fraction of the heavy lawyer fees he racked up suing Pima County to pay for United Farm Workers figure Dolores Huerta's plane ticket ($270, plus a $95 change fee) for an April fundraiser. He landed union backing even though one-time Grijalva ally Jesus Romo, the civil-rights and immigration lawyer, has the real farm worker and union bona fides.

Glassman, a 24-year UA double grad who thirsts for politics and notoriety, was an easy mark. Grijalva sought bigger money from Rodney's mother, a dentist, and father, the farm executive. But two meetings have not yielded any green. Grijalva mouthed the standard lines of opposition to subsidies to corporate farms. Just one of the Britz-Glassman operations, DLM Farms, pulled in $2.2 million in subsidies from 1996 through 2001.

Besides his normal support troop, Grijalva has shown that he can run an effective S/M campaign. The people he trashed in his 13 years as a member of the Board of Supervisors are only too happy to give him money now. Another example is Glassman's local mentor, Robert Gugino, who coughed up $250 on June 8. Grijalva despised Gugino when the affable and clever Tucson lawyer finessed rezonings and when he landed a $25,000 contract to untangle the nasty web that was the county's Avra Valley Airport in 1997.


KINO PAGES ARTHUR ANDERSEN: Sadly, the turnstile management at Kino Community Hospital (four sets of administrators in three years) cannot contain losses while the hospital docs and nurses and techs continue to provide outstanding care to a desperate and poor population. The latest numbers are staggering, but not new: More than $1 million lost each month.

No one, particularly the Arizona Daily Star, will hold accountable those who are responsible: the Board of Supervisors. The health care world has changed in 10 years, but it is worth noting that Kino operated with subsidies that ranged from nothing to $2 million a year (a lot less than the $12 million and $16 million in recent years) in the early 1990s. Most property-tax payers are willing to pay $20 to $40 a year to subsidize Kino on its nearly $60 million annual budget. What they won't tolerate is waste and the hospital's 25-year history of failing to even bill insurers or state and federal indigent health care plans.

Sharon Bronson, the Democratic chairman of the Board of Supervisors, touts herself has an accountant. While begging for a second term in 2000, Bronson declared Kino's financial problems were over. She said they were fixed with a computer upgrade, as if some PC or programmer went wacky. Then she attributed the illusory reversal to a good economy and, get this, "clever bookkeeping."

Guess who served as a Kino consultant, providing a flip-chart of fantasy, just a couple years earlier? Arthur Andersen.

Since Bronson's re-election, Kino has run up a $21.8 million deficit.


IT'S FUN, IT'S EASY AND, DAMMIT, IT'S AMERICAN: Don't let those intellectual wonks at the UA political science department fool ya--we may not have done some big-brained economic study, but we still think voting is worth your while.

If you're considering voting in the September 10 primary and haven't yet registered, you'd better get your ass in gear. The last day to sign up is Monday, August 12. We recommend registering without a party preference so you can pick whether you want to vote in the Democratic or Republican primary. (We suppose you could also decide to vote in the Libertarian primary, but really, what's the point?)

Registration forms are available at local libraries, post offices, town halls, and party headquarters. Or you can even download a registration form at www.recorder.co.pima.az.us/.

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