THE DASH FOR DOLLARS BEGINS
Tucson City Councilwoman Karin Uhlich made a minor bit of fundraising history last week by signing her contract to participate in the city's matching-funds campaign program and turning in more than the required 200 qualifying contributions on the same day.
If all checks out, Uhlich will receive one dollar from the city for every private dollar she raises, but she won't be able to spend more than $114,627, according to the preliminary limits established by the Tucson City Clerk last month.
Uhlich said the early filing was meant to show that she had a "broad and strong base of support from people who want to be involved with the campaign."
Uhlich's report shows that she raised a total of $3,382 between Feb. 6 and Feb. 14, mostly in $10 contributions. Under the program, she can raise somewhere in the neighborhood of $57,000 before matching out, so she still has plenty of fundraising to do.
"I will be reaching out far and wide to get the contributions to meet my share of the match," Uhlich says.
Uhlich is seeking a third term after narrowly winning a second one four years ago. She beat Republican Ben Buehler-Garcia by fewer than 200 votes in 2009.
But whether the local GOP will find someone to find to run against Uhlich remains to be seen.
While she's trying to qualify early, Uhlich won't be taking any public money if she doesn't draw an opponent this year, according to Adam Kinsey of Strategic Issues Management Group, a political consulting firm working with Uhlich.
Uhlich's Ward 3 seat is one of three that's up for grabs. The others are Ward 5's Richard Fimbres and Ward 6's Steve Kozachik, the newly minted Democrat. Neither man has drawn an opponent yet in the Aug. 27 primary or the Nov. 5 general election.
One more city election note: The City Council voted last week to do another of those vote-by-mail elections, so every voter will receive a ballot in the mail and will be asked to fill it out and send it back in.
If you forget to turn in a ballot, you'll be able to drop one off on Election Day at a central location inside each ward.
Democrat Fred DuVal set off on an exploration across Arizona to discover whether he should run for governor in 2014. The exploratory part of this is more about campaign laws and less about intention; DuVal wants the job.
He tells The Skinny via email that he wants to improve Arizona's reputation, invest state dollars in education and workforce development, break away from the ideological politics that are running rampant at the Legislature, and build a stronger public and private sector.
"In short, I am talking about 21st century tools applied to 21st century challenges, to make a difference for today's families," DuVal said.
Duval, 58, isn't exactly a household name, which is an argument for getting in early. He most recently served on the Arizona Board of Regents and is particularly proud that in his final year, he and his fellow regents staved off a tuition hike for in-state students.
He made a previous unsuccessful run for Congress in the Flagstaff area in 2002, but before that, he was a behind-the-scenes kind of guy. He helped Democrat Bruce Babbitt get elected governor in 1978 and worked in Babbit's administration in the early '80s, where he helped create the AHCCCS program and the state's groundwater code. In the '90s, Duval worked in the Clinton White House on welfare reform, gaming rights and other federal-state issues.
DuVal has been setting up the run for some time before making it official on Arizona's 101st birthday. He may well be able to tap a large fundraising network, making him a legitimate contender against state Rep. Chad Campbell, who is also considering a campaign.
The biggest question: Is Democrat Richard Carmona, who gave Republican Jeff Flake a scare in last year's U.S. Senate race, interested in the job? Carmona's campaign machinery is still relatively warm and he has supporters trying to lure him into the race.
Whether a Democrat can win a statewide race in Arizona anymore remains to be seen. Last year, the party got cleaned out of statewide office when the last two Democrats to hold seats, Paul Newman and Sandra Kennedy, got knocked off the Arizona Corporation Commission. Two years before that, the GOP swept the ballot in all the other statewide seats, from governor and attorney general all the way down to mine inspector.
A Democrat's best chance lies in the possibility that a big pack of GOP candidates have the same sort of brutal primary that the Republican presidential contenders experienced last year. The process can make a candidate stronger and more prepared for a general election, but it also opens the door for right-wing panders or other blunders that turn off independent voters.
SPEAKING OF A BIG PACK OF GOP CANDIDATES...
So just who is interested in running for governor on the Republican side? So far, there's a big pack of potential candidates:
• Secretary of State Ken Bennett wants the job (and is no doubt disappointed that Brewer did not go off to serve as secretary of state in the Romney administration, allowing him to inherit the gig this year).
• State Treasurer Doug Ducey, who built up his name ID by opposing the extension of the one-cent sales tax, has money from his days as the CEO of Cold Stone Creamery.
• Christine Jones, who recently left her job as general counsel at GoDaddy.com, can rival Ducey's appeal to the business community and the Goldwater Institute types.
• Former Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman has already filed the paperwork for an exploratory committee.
• Mesa Mayor Scott Smith, who has quietly worked to build bipartisan connections while competently delivering services and amenities in his East Valley city, has been laying the groundwork for a possible campaign.
And then you have some wild cards:
• Attorney General Tom Horne was angling for the gig, but his appetite for what the kids call "a taste of the Pita Jungle" has screwed up his game.
• Former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas, who got disbarred for abusing his power during his six-year reign of terror between 2004 and 2010, has said he wants to run. That strikes us as completely delusional, but Thomas is sticking by his story that he was an honest man who was destroyed by The Powers That Be because he dared to investigate their corruption.
• Wil Cardon, last seen spending $6 million of his family's fortune while losing to Flake in last year's GOP Senate primary, last week tweeted this mysterious hint of a political comeback: "Time to jump back in. Things are more broken than ever. There is a lot of work to do. Watch out establishment. We're not done yet." Whether that means a gubernatorial run remains to be seen, but he's shown in the past that he's willing to spend millions of dollars to deliver poll-tested messages.
• And the current occupant of the office, Gov. Jan Brewer herself keeps floating the idea that she can run for a third term, because the first one didn't count because she inherited the office. We're not lawyers, but that strikes us as a questionable legal argument.