"Don't much care who does the electin' long as I do the nominatin'"
— William Marcy "Boss" Tweed
Six months ago, Gov. Jan Brewer looked like toast. She was losing the GOP primary to State Treasurer Dean Martin, running even with millionaire businessman Buz Mills and Tucson attorney John Munger was gaining. She avoided public appearances and dithered about decisions. Then came SB1070 and the voters acceptance of a 1 percent hike in the state sales tax.
Mrs. Dithers morphed into Joan of Arc. Martin and Munger dropped out, leaving Mills and newly minted ASU PhD Matt Jette. Mills spent millions and still trails badly with six weeks to go. Jette is wandering around the barren wastes of Republican "moderation" like Diogenes seeking a constituency. This one's over.
So probably is the U.S. Senate primary. John McCain has hit his principal challenger former Congressman J.D. Hayworth with multiple challenges to his personal integrity. Hayworth has so far stuck mainly to the issues. Newcomer Jim Deakin, like Jette, adds more irrelevancy. McCain probably wins but he still has time to blow it. Would that he had fought Obama as hard.
The largest Republican cage fight is in the attorney general's race. Incumbent School Superintendent Tom Horne is battling former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas. The list of charges made by either requires a separate column. Careful, guys – this stuff could elect a Democrat in November.
The CD8 GOP Primary gives Republicans a clear choice between three existing archetypes — Jesse Kelly, Brian Miller and Jonathan Paton. Also running is Jay Quick, who like Jette is searching for the "middle ground" which currently has an active population slightly larger than Tubac if less affluent.
Kelly is the classic newcomer with no political experience. He represents hardcore conservative values and issues and is a crowd-pleasing speaker. He led a Marine mortar squad in Iraq. His drawbacks are he's only 28, he didn't finish college and his family's construction firm builds projects that receive federal stimulus money.
Miller, like Kelly a combat veteran only as an Air Force A-10 pilot in Afghanistan, represents the libertarian side of the conservative and constitutionalist agenda, which may be his biggest problem. His positions on the border, Afghanistan and replacing the income tax with a national sales or "fair" tax are not exactly a GOP or even center-right consensus.
Paton contrasts both with lengthy experience as a lobbyist, candidate and ultimately state legislator. His greatest strength is that establishment pols and fund raising types feel comfortable with him as a known commodity. Unlike some of their prior disastrous choices, he has a reasonably conservative voting record. His biggest detriment in a conservative year was expressed by one of the groups rating his voting record as "not bad." Paton also served as an Army intelligence officer in Iraq.
Locally in LD 26, neither Republican State Sen. Al Melvin nor Democrat Cheryl Cage are opposed, giving us a rerun of 2008 in November. Melvin has become a competent legislator who represents the actual mainstream from where it now runs very well. Cage is as shrill and narrow as last time.
The GOP House Primary is a three way for two House seats, with incumbent Vic Williams and newcomers Terry Proud and Wade McLean. Williams has grown into the job and his voting record is also "not bad". Proud is a Tea Party product with a strong conservative message. McLean is the former superintendent of Marana schools and is supported by former GOP State Reps. Pete Hershberger and Jennifer Burns.
This state is nearly bankrupt because too many Republicans like Hershberger and Burns supported too many Democrat spending policies. Enough said.
Hear Emil Franzi and Tom Danehy Saturdays 1-4 p.m. on KVOI 1030AM.