The Skinny


Congressman Jeff Flake is off to a roaring start in his U.S. Senate campaign, having raised a million bucks since Sen. Jon Kyl announced he wouldn't be seeking another term earlier this year.

Flake's been aided in the effort by his pals in the Club for Growth, a network of wealthy political patrons who hate paying taxes.

Flake got another bit of good news last week when Congressman Trent Franks said he would not be seeking the Senate seat. While Flake is conservative on spending and other issues, he's seen as soft on immigration in hard-right circles, and Franks had been viewed as the most viable alternative.

With him out of the race, some are turning to former congressman and radio talk-show host J.D. Hayworth, whose reputation was smashed into a million pieces by Sen. John McCain last year.


Republican Ron Asta ran a TV ad last week asking Tucsonans whether he should continue his run for mayor, in light of recent media coverage of a traffic accident that killed an 18-year-old girl in 1994.

Asta says he got a lot of responses to the ad—and the negative outweighed the positive.

"I had a touch of heaven, but I caught a lot of hell," Asta says.

He still hasn't decided whether to drop out of the race.

"I still have people I need to talk to, especially my supporters," says Asta.

Asta says he's learned one thing in recent weeks: "I really have to do something about my driving."

If he stays in the race, Asta is likely to face Shaun McClusky in the GOP primary. McClusky got hooked on city politics after a failed bid for the Ward 5 City Council seat in 2009.

Democrat Jonathan Rothschild is also seeking the mayor's seat, as is Green Party candidate Jon McClane (although he may have a residency issue).

In other city-election news: Democrat Joe Flores, who is challenging Ward 1 Councilwoman Regina Romero in the Aug. 30 primary, officially opened his campaign headquarters on Saturday, April 2.

Meanwhile, Republican Jennifer Rawson, a political rookie, plans to announce her candidacy against Ward 2 Democratic Councilman Paul Cunningham this week.

Cunningham, who was appointed to the Ward 2 seat after Rodney Glassman resigned to launch a failed bid for U.S. Senate, is running for his first four-year term.


The Gabriel Zimmerman Scholarship Fund has just surpassed its goal of $50,000, making the fund eligible for endowment at the University of California at Santa Cruz, Zimmerman's alma mater.

It took just more than two months for the fund to receive enough donations for endowment, but fund co-creator Jonathan Klein says his work is far from over.

"We've got to keep it going," says Klein, a San Francisco attorney and UC Santa Cruz alum.

An aide to Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, Zimmerman was shot and killed in the Jan. 8 Tucson shootings.

The Gabriel Zimmerman Scholarship Fund's mission of helping those in need is "so consistent with what he valued and with what his family valued," says Ross Zimmerman, Gabriel Zimmerman's father. "UC Santa Cruz had a huge effect on him."

After the fund reached endowment, Klein received a congratulatory e-mail from Ross Zimmerman and a card from Gabriel Zimmerman's mother, Klein says.

"It means the world to me," he says.

While the scholarship fund has achieved its monetary goal, its ultimate goal of impacting young students for years to come is a proper tribute to a man who gave his life doing what he loved, Klein says.

"We want to make sure it lasts," he says. "We want to make sure there's a lasting legacy."

Meanwhile, the Gabriel Zimmerman Memorial Fund continues to slowly climb. The fund has raised $35,000 in donations, up from $33,000 two weeks ago, says Colleen Bagnall, development director of Child and Family Resources in Tucson, the organization that started the fund.

To donate to the Gabriel Zimmerman Scholarship Fund, contact Joop Rubens at (831) 502-7275, or e-mail

To donate to the Gabriel Zimmerman Memorial Fund, contact Bagnall, of Child and Family Resources, at 321-3778, or e-mail


Perennial candidate Joe Sweeney, who quixotically tilted toward Congress for decades in Southern Arizona, died of cancer at age 66 on Saturday, April 2.

Sweeney has been running for office longer than The Skinny has been following local politics. He ran for Congress more than a dozen times on the Republican, Democratic and New Alliance tickets, but his focus was always the same: stopping illegal immigration.

Sweeney, who was opposed to illegal immigration before being opposed to illegal immigration was cool, was a trailblazer. He called for the National Guard on the border more than a decade before soldiers were put there, and has always been a fierce advocate of sanctions against employers who hire illegal immigrants. It took a long time for the state to catch up to Sweeney's vision, but few Republicans on today's campaign trail would have disagreed with his border views.

He also ran the Alexander Hamilton Evening Law School, an unorthodox institution that he launched after being denied admission to the UA College of Law. "I said, I'll be damned if I'll put up with that nonsense," Sweeney told us back in 2004.

Sweeney was not one to be deterred from a dream: When he couldn't find an accreditation agency to back his law school, he created his own, the Great Plains School and College.

The Skinny isn't convinced a law degree from Sweeney's school would prepare a person for a career as an attorney; when we looked into attending a few years back, Sweeney told us the first semester mostly consisted of listening to old legal-training cassettes that he kept in a dusty suitcase.

But Sweeney delighted in handing out honorary degrees every year to what he described as "the elite group of the Alexander Hamilton Evening Law School." Past recipients (who often didn't show up to receive the honor) include Microsoft boss Bill Gates, actor Paul Newman, media mogul Ted Turner, investor Warren Buffett and former UA basketball coach Lute Olson, who actually did stop by to pick up his degree at the law school's annual Christmas party last year.

We didn't much cotton to Sweeney's peculiar racist and anti-gay ramblings, but the election season won't be the same without his inspired lunacy.


We're just about out of space, but we want to mention that many of the bills that we've been following during this legislative session have died somewhere along the way. Yes, that's right: State lawmakers couldn't bring themselves to support the Freedom to Breathe Act, which would have prevented the feds from regulating greenhouse gases. What do these lawmakers have against freedom and breathing?

But as the session winds down, a number of bills are still racing toward the finish line, including a few measures to reduce gun regulation, and a proposal to ask voters to get rid of Clean Elections. You can catch up with it all with our Blogislature feature on The Range at

Follow the Skinny scribe on Twitter: @nintzel


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