Ticket of Terror

The GOP slate is a monster mash. We suggest you vote Democrat this year.

Halloween is here, but the real fright night comes on Tuesday, November 5.

That's the night we voters have to ward off the diabolical Republican team that's ready to devour the state.

This year's GOP creep show comes at a perilous time. As the red tide rises at the state Capitol, the budget is starting to look like one of those poor sex-crazed teens in a slasher flick. Our schools are still crumbling, our drug prices are climbing, professors are fleeing our universities, our desert is vanishing and our hungry grow increasingly desperate.

So how will the Republican slate handle it? Early in the campaign, most of 'em did a pandering appearance on evangelical TV with a promise to bring God-fearing people together to fight a war against evil.

Well, the Lord helps those who help themselves--and there's no better way to help ourselves this year than by voting the Democratic ticket.

First, the governor's race. Republican Matt Salmon may not seem all that scary--one-on-one, he can be a real charmer--but combined with the all-but-guaranteed rightward swing of the Arizona Legislature, a Salmon administration would be a nightmare for the state.

Taking his cue straight from the top, Matt has dressed up like a compassionate conservative, promising to cut your taxes while improving government services. Yes sir, he says, you can have it all--and for nothing.

Let's be honest: by the time you get past education, the prison system and health care spending, there's not much left to trim in the budget, unless you want Leatherface to take his chainsaw to social services and parks.

While we don't advocate a massive tax increase to bridge the budget shortfall, we do support Democrat Janet Napolitano's call for a wholesale re-evaluation of the state tax code to find firm financial footing. It's a colossal undertaking that will be beset by every special interest, but at least Napolitano understands the work that needs to be done.

Janet ain't Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but as attorney general, she's battled the bogeymen of Qwest Communications, the fraudulent Baptist Foundation and accounting firm Arthur Andersen. And she's clearly not a threat to business--or honest business, anyway--or she wouldn't have the endorsement of so many Maricopa County suits.

On the issues that matter to us--education, health care, abortion rights, the environment, even economic development--we trust Janet a lot more than we trust Matt Salmon. She's a moderate Democrat who will balance a Republican legislature. Vote for Janet Napolitano on November 5.

THE GOP'S CREEPIEST candidate is Andrew Thomas, the Stone Age throwback seeking the attorney general's seat. As a cultural commentator, Thomas wrote a screed in which he said working mothers might as well drown their own children. In this year's primary, Thomas gleefully engaged in gay-bashing, voraciously burying his opponents in mud to secure the party nomination.

Along the way, he dug himself a hole we'd like to see serve as his political grave--and we want Democrat Terry Goddard, the former Phoenix mayor, to dance on it election night. Goddard is an experienced politico with a wealth of experience in government who is far less likely to let dogma drive his decisions. Voters should ignore Thomas' lies and distortions and vote for Goddard.

Then there's Republican Jan Brewer, who wants to serve as secretary of state, the elected official first in line should a most unfortunate accident befall the governor. When they stitched Jan together, somebody forgot to include a heart. This campaign should have been a slam-dunk for Brewer, who just needed to show she wasn't the Queen of Mean after she won her nasty primary. So what does she do? She complains that her Democratic opponent, Chris Cummiskey, missed some Senate votes last year. He sure did--because his son was undergoing heart surgery. Jan says that's no excuse. Is this really someone we want next in line for the top office? We think not. The Tucson Weekly endorses Chris Cummiskey, who has proven himself quite capable of navigating treacherous political waters during his time in the Legislature.

Talk about spooky--how about our schools? In the race for State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Republican Tom Horne won his primary by spending some $400,000 of his own money reminding Republicans that his opponent was a Mexican.

Now only one thing stands in the way of Horne's ascension to hobgoblin of little minds: Democrat Jay Blanchard. Having won his Arizona Senate seat just two years ago, Blanchard doesn't have a household name. But he does have experience in education and plenty of good ideas about fixing our schools, beginning with dumping the idea that graduation is dependent on passing a single test that needs serious revision. Vote for Jay Blanchard.

In the State Treasurer's race, Republican David Petersen is offering a blood sacrifice if voters support him: He'll ax most of the current staff and privatize the state's investment program. Great fees for the lucky fella who gets that job, but not a wise idea for taxpayers. Vote for Democrat Ruth Solomon, who says she'll keep the current competent staff that now serves under Republican Carol Springer.

Then there's the Arizona Corporation Commission, which is supposed to oversee the flesh-eating cannibals now consuming--er, running Corporate America and the private utilities.

Incumbent Republican Jim Irvin has been the target of investigation regarding funny business over the proposed sale of Southwest Gas. Talk about a guy who should have been buried a long time ago--Irvin shouldn't have made it through the primary. His opponent, James Walsh, is a former state lawmaker who will be a solid consumer watchdog.

In the race for two other seats on the Corporation Commission, the Democrats have fielded two fine candidates. Former state Sen. George Cunningham is the kind of number-cruncher who is perfect for the commission. Cunningham is as deathly dull as politicians come, but he's eminently qualified for detailed work required from a commissioner.

The other Democrat seeking a seat, Roland James, is equally qualified. A longtime assistant to former Commissioner Renz Jennings, James knows his way around the commission's issues. Vote for Walsh, Cunningham and James.

A big Democratic win will not only be good for the Democrats. It'll also be good for Republicans, by driving a stake through the heart of people like Andrew Thomas, who are dragging the party into darkness.

And in the end, exorcising those demons can only be good for the state of Arizona.

Just say no to the creature feature. Scare up some friends on election day and vote for the Democrats.

ARE WE kneejerk liberals who never back Republicans? Nah--we can throw a bone to the GOP.

In the Pima County race for Clerk of the Superior Court, we recommend that voters reelect Republican Patti Noland, the former state senator who is completing her first term. Noland's sharp administration has kept the courts running as smoothly as justice ever runs. She deserves your vote on November 5.

--Tucson Weekly

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