The Skinny

THE LATE SHIFT: You're voting at home, but you're not voting early. Of the record 38,545 early ballots sent out to voters since early August, only 14,048 had made their way back into the elections department by Labor Day weekend. The rest of you are carefully weighing each candidate's pros and cons--or else the ballot has fallen into a pile of bills, credit card offers and campaign propaganda.

It appears all the reaching out to "touch voters" is starting to feel more like inappropriate groping to some of the electorate. We're hearing that some voters are just fed up with the calls from phone banks. Given how badly some of these folks read the script, we can't say we're surprised.

AIR VS. GROUND: It has come down to Raúl Grijalva's impressive ground troops to Elaine Richardson's air campaign in the race for the Democratic nomination in Congressional District 7.

Richardson has raised $528,380 and spent most of it. Grijalva raised $257,112. He spends wisely. She, or her D.C. handlers, piss it away.

Richardson also has had to take to the air because she has none of Grijalva's diehard, block-by-block, house-by-house fighters.

In this combat, the field was never level.

Many of those warriors are on the county payroll and they get to work on Grijalva's campaign on the county time and dime. We're talking lawyers, truck drivers, sewer workers and high-paid bureaucrats. Richard Elias sets a fine example. Busted for pasting a Grijalva sticker on his taxpayer-provided SUV, Elias removed the ad and within days was carting around Grijalva campaign signs in the back of his county-owned GMC Jimmy.

County Administration also helps with its own electioneering. It slapped photos of Grijalva and Elias on the cover of the August edition of The Scoop, the in-house rag for 8,000 county employees. That is no insignificant use of taxpayer money. County employees vote, vote and vote. The photos of the already-old-news opening holiday at El Pueblo library were stale. It also was a boost for Elias, trying to fight back Frank Felix in the supe District 5, even though Elias never voted on an El Pueblo library matter.

Grijalva's camp is busy attacking Richardson for taking a huge chunk of money, via EMILY's List, from out-of-state contributors. Yet Grijalva has some real all-stars who, unlike Richardson donors, have real specific interests in currying favor with the locals. Jerry Reinsdorf, owner of Chicago's White Sox and Bulls, contributed to Grijalva. The White Sox-Diamondbacks training complex at Tucson Electric Park cost county taxpayers more than $40 million and is nearly $6 million in operating debt. Phoenician Rich Dozer, a regular contributor to Grijalva's county supervisor campaigns, popped for $250 in the congressional race. Grijalva's bookkeepers left blank the required information on Dozer's employment and said they were "requesting the information." Like it's a mystery. We can tell the Federal Elections Commission right now: Dozer is president of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

While most of the Growth Lobby is betting on Richardson, Grijalva did tap a few other 'dozers: Chris Ansley, the Canadian who is developing Starr Pass, is putting money into Grijalva's machine. Chris Sheafe, a longtime leader of the Tucson Growth Lobby as an Estes Co. executive, gave Grijalva $300.

SPEAKING OF ELIAS AND FELIX: The Democratic candidates battling for Raúl's old seat on the Pima County Board of Supervisors filed their campaign finance reports last week.

Frank Felix reported raising twice as much--$77,247--as Richard Elias, who had collected $38,344 through August 21. Felix had tapped most of the Growth Lobby, with big checks from money guys like Stan Abrams and his wife Judy, who each gave the maximum $340, as well as representatives of the Southern Arizona Homebuilders Association, New World Homes, A.F. Sterling, DC Concrete Co., Monterrey Homes, Terramar Properties, DR Horton Homes and others. Felix also tapped Republican heavy hitters like car dealer Jim Click ($340) and Ed Parker ($320), local coordinator for the GOP gubernatorial candidate Matt Salmon.

The Felix camp downplayed the support from the development community, saying that Elias has received support from real-estate guys like Joe Cesare. The Felix spin: at least we're not taking contributions from the engineering firms that do business with the county, who are giving money to Elias.

But the greens are clearly in Elias' corner. He reported contributions from folks such as Carolyn Campbell, director of the coalition of environmental groups supporting the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan; Gayle Hartmann, longtime enviro activist who lost her bid for the Tucson City Council last year; Jenny Neeley of Defenders of Wildlife; former Tucson Mayor Tom Volgy; and Raúl himself.

Over the weekend, a mysterious independent campaign run by the It Takes A Village Committee (gotta love the name!) fired off a big fold-out mailer linking Elias to the procurement scandals that have dogged the county, saying he was just a pawn of supervisors who have allowed corruption to bloom inside the county. We won't know for a few weeks who funded the committee, but we wouldn't be surprised to see stuccodollars behind it. Elias had better hope Grijalva's coattails double as a flak jacket--we hear more hits are on the way.

CARMONA'S OUTBREAK: The end is closer than we thought. Turns out we don't have to wait a few decades until a meteor crashes into earth; in just a few weeks, a bio-attack will leave thousands--perhaps tens of thousands--of Tucsonans dead.

Oh, wait, it's just a test. Tucson SWAT Doc and Surgeon General Richard Carmona announced his plans to playact his fantasy of seeing us all perish from a horrible plague in some sort an "emergency drill" he's cooking up for later this year. We imagine the outbreak will start right in our neighborhood.

The White House let Carmona rub some noses in the dirt with his triumphant return to Tucson last week that included a stop to plug a dental program at Kino Community Hospital. Among the bugs seeking the heat of the TV lights were Republican Supervisor Ray Carroll and Democrats Sharon Bronson and Richard Elias. The difference is that Carmona actually likes Sugar Ray.

Bronson and Elias, clinging to his political life, were particularly shameless suck-ups. The two longest knives in Carmona's back, implanted three years ago when the Board of Supervisors--sans Sugar Ray--forced the SWAT Doc out as the Pima Health Czar were from Bronson and Elias' mentor, Raúl Grijalva.

WILBUR OUTGUNNED: This note on those who struggled mightily and with lots of committee meetings to disarm poor Wilbur Wildcat: Phoebe Chalk, the assistant director of athletics for public affairs and special events, is paid a $66,190 annual salary. Janet Bingham, the University of Arizona's vice president for advancement, has swooped in to defend put-upon Phoebe and take responsibility for forcing Wilbur to check his six-shooters. Bingham is the wife of David White, a top prosecutor for the Pima County Attorney's Office. Bingham's salary at the UA is $139,750. What's that about UA money trouble?

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