Capitol Offensive

It's Not Much Fun Anymore, But Some Folks Still Want To Represent You At The Legislature.

By Jim Nintzel

FROM WHAT WE read in the papers, being a member of the Arizona Legislature just ain't what it used to be. The glamour, it seems, has slipped away and now nobody wants to be a lawmaker anymore.

Currents Various experts have various explanations for this political phenomenon, ranging from rude manners in the statehouse to tough treatment in the media. (We really oughta be ashamed of ourselves.)

A big part is undoubtedly the numbers game: Most of Arizona's districts are drawn to favor one party or another. In many of those lopsided districts, the underdog party often makes no effort to field candidates, preferring to conserve resources for other battlefields.

That leaves primaries as the only viable battleground--and leaders in both parties do their best to dissuade potential primary challenges, because the races often split the party. So with the leadership squelching debate within the party and playing it safe in public, there's suddenly a dearth of candidates.

But you know what? Term limits will force more than a half-dozen southern Arizona lawmakers from their offices in two years--and we're guessing there will be no shortage of statesmen--and women--lining up then.

In the meantime, here's how 1998 shapes up:

District 9

IN THE HOUSE race in District 9, incumbents Bill McGibbon and Lou-Ann Preble face a primary challenge from Jonathan Lee Paton, who is currently earning a master's degree in German at the University of Arizona.

Although he's only 27, Paton is already wise to the tortuous workings of the statehouse. He served an internship with state Sen. Stan Barnes (R-Mesa) in 1995. And he's making a strong effort to reach out to District 9's 36,500 Republicans--he's already walked 14 of the district's 80 precincts while collecting signatures, and as of May 31, he'd raised about $8,210 for the race. He'd spent about $3,853, leaving him with $4,357. By comparison, Preble had raised $5,442 and spent $954, leaving $4,488 in the bank, and McGibbon had amassed $16,081 and spent $2,446, leaving him with the largest warchest of $13,634.

Republican Sen. Keith Bee is unopposed in his re-election bid.

District 12

ALTHOUGH REP. DAN Schottel is running for re-election, longtime Rep. Freddie Hershberger is calling it quits, leaving an open House seat in District 12, which stretches across northwestern Pima County.

Joining Schottel in the race for two House seats are John Scott Ulm (better known as radio talkshow host John C. Scott) and real estate broker Steve Huffman, who lost a bid for the seat in 1996. The three candidates will be fighting for votes among District 12's 41,000 Republicans.

All three candidates have enough money to run viable campaigns. By May 31, Schottel had raised $16,383 and spent $3,897, leaving him with $12,485 in campaign funds. Ulm had received $10,600 and spent $8,393, with $2,204 left in the bank. Huffman had raised less than Scott ($9,455), but he had also spent less ($3,040), leaving him with $6,414 at the close of the reporting period.

The two winners of the primary will face Democrats Mark Osterloh, a lawyer and doctor who lost a bid for the seat in 1994, and Andy Morales, a teacher who served as president of the Amphi School District teachers' union. It's the first time in years the Democrats have had a full House slate in D12, where they make up only about 38 percent of registered voters.

Osterloh has loaned his campaign $6,000 and spent $5,041, leaving him $959 in the bank. Morales, meanwhile, has raised $4,287, including $2,084 he loaned the campaign, and has spent $2,253, leaving $2,034 in his account.

Sen. Ann Day is facing a challenge from Ted Schlinkert, who has been a strong supporter of incorporation for Casas Adobes and Tortolita.

Schlikert lost in a three-way GOP primary against Day in 1992. He flirted with another primary challenge this year, but decided instead to run in the general election as a Libertarian.

Although many constituents in Casas Adobes and Tortolita blame Day for the Senate's failure to pass a bill that would have helped the towns in their legal battle to survive, Schlinkert will still have a tough time unseating the Senator as a third-party candidate--especially considering that Day has raised nearly $45,000 for her re-election campaign.

District 13

DISTRICT 13, WHICH stretches from central Tucson to the Catalina Foothills, is a rarity in Arizona politics--it's nearly split between Republicans (30,270) and Democrats (30,031), making it an even playing ground between the parties. The Democrats currently hold D13, with George Cunningham in the Senate and Andy Nichols and Brian Fagin in the House.

Even with those even numbers, however, the GOP was unable to find a candidate to run for the Senate seat and will field only one candidate for the House, longtime GOP activist Kathleen Dunbar, who works as the public relations director at the local Humane Society. The former chairwoman of D13, Dunbar is making her debut as a candidate. As of May 31, Dunbar had raised only $1,200 and spent $615, leaving her with a mere $585 in her campaign coffers.

District 14

SINCE 1994, SEN. Ruth Solomon and representatives Hershella Horton and Marion Pickens have represented central Tucson's District 14. While Solomon is safe in the Senate, Horton and Pickens will face a re-election challenge from Republican Sam Ramirez, a 38-year-old law student taking his first stab at public office. Ramirez is undoubtedly an underdog in D14, which is home to nearly 28,000 Democrats and about 23,000 Republicans.

At the end of the reporting period, Ramirez was running low on cash. He'd raised only $1,807 and spent $1,775, leaving him only $31 in the bank. While Pickens' campaign finance reports weren't available at the county elections office, Horton had raised more than $29,000 and still had nearly $13,000 in the bank.

Adding color to the race is Libertarian Ed Kahn, an attorney who's a staunch believer in Henry David Thoreau's maxim: "That government is best which governs least." Kahn hasn't ever actually won any of the many campaigns he launched--his most recent was in 1995, when he ran for mayor of Tucson on the Libertarian ticket--but he enjoys having a platform to join the political debate. TW

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