Originally published in the Tucson Weekly on Aug. 14.
Over the years, we’ve taken different approaches to endorsements: Some years, we’ve only given the Official Tucson Weekly Stamp o’ Approval to candidates we really like. Some years, we’ve unendorsed the ones we really don’t like. And some years, we’ve skipped it altogether, because we’re so disappointed by the available choices.
We’re trying something new this year: The Lesser of Evils endorsement strategy.
Like the Good Book says: All have fallen short of the glory of God in some way or another. Politicians are only human, no matter how often we might think otherwise. They stumble; they screw up; they make decisions that leave all of us, at some time or another, wondering: Wilco Tango Foxtrot?!
But, as former TW automatic weapons editor Emil Franzi used to tell us, politics is a game of “compared to what?” (And he should know, having supported his own share of turkeys.) With that in mind, this year, we’re making a call in every major contested primary here in Pima County.
We know plenty of you will disagree with our picks, so we’re inviting you to let us know what idiots we are. The comments line is open, citizens! It’s time to speak out, or forever hold your peace.
Pima County Board of Supervisors
PIMA COUNTY SUPERVISOR DISTRICT 1: REPUBLICAN ANN DAY
Republican Ann Day has plenty of political experience, with two terms on the Pima County Board of Supervisors and a decade in the Arizona Legislature. She strikes us as the sort of politician who believes in directing a functional, albeit accountable, government, rather than engaging in ideological battles. She has supported the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan, helped ensure the county is on firm financial ground and only seems to pander on the property-tax issues in election years. (Hey, that’s politics!) Her opponent, political rookie Joe Higgins, hasn’t impressed with vague complaints about how the county spends too much and creates too many restrictions on development. Vote Day.
PIMA COUNTY SUPERVISOR DISTRICT 2: DEMOCRAT RAMÓN VALADEZ
We’re not wild about the job that Democrat Ramón Valadez has done since taking office in 2003. He could certainly be more in touch with constituents, and he needs to do a better job of serving his entire district, not just his political base. Nonetheless, we have to give the nod to the guy who has experience in understanding how Pima County works.
His opponent, Robert Robuck, is a newcomer to county politics (and voting in Pima County) who appears to have little idea of what’s going on downtown. His complaint that the county hasn’t done enough to oppose the proposed Rosemont mine is weak; county supervisors have done as much as they can in the face of a rigged game that the feds ultimately control. And his worries about voter integrity appear to be opportunistic pandering. We’re also unhappy with his claims that he has nothing to do with Republican “Sugar” Ray Carroll, when it seems at times like he’s regurgitating Carroll’s talking points, verbatim. Vote Valadez.
PIMA COUNTY SUPERVISOR DISTRICT 3: DEMOCRAT SHARON BRONSON
Like Valadez, Democrat Sharon Bronson is someone else who could stand to turn on the charm a little more often. But she helped lead the effort on the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan, was part of a team that has brought more financial stability to county operations, and at least attempted to find a way to reform the troubles with Kino Hospital.
Her Democratic opponent, Donna Branch-Gilby, has enough political experience that she would be fine as a supervisor. But her complaints that Bronson has not done enough to rein in growth ignore both the advances that the county has made over the last decade and the limitations that the county faces when trying to find ways to deal with existing zoning and other regulations.
Branch-Gilby is also among the Democrats who have hammered Bronson on the issue of election integrity. We salute the Pima County Democratic Party for exposing serious security problems within the Elections Division, but we fear the issue has been blown out of proportion by the conspiracy theorists who believe the 2006 Regional Transportation Authority election was rigged–and we believe the campaign against Bronson has turned into a witch hunt, which we can’t get behind. Vote Bronson.
DISTRICT 26 SENATE: REPUBLICAN PETE HERSHBERGER
In the fight over the soul of the Republican Party, we’re going to have to go with the mods over the cons. Rep. Pete Hershberger has blocked some of the worst proposals that have been ginned up by the conservative Republicans in the House of Representatives for the last eight years, and has supported more funding for education, health care and child care. His opponent, Al Melvin, is on the wrong side of just about every issue, from wanting to restrict abortion to not providing enough money for public education. Vote Hershberger.
DISTRICT 26 HOUSE: REPUBLICANS VIC WILLIAMS AND TRENT HUMPHRIES
We can’t say we’re fellow travelers with either of these gentlemen, but they both seem to have the acumen to maneuver the halls of the Legislature without embarrassing Southern Arizona. The third Republican in the race, Marilyn Zerull, has been a committed activist, but doesn’t show much appreciation for the subtleties of policy. Vote Williams and Humphries.
DISTRICT 27: DEMOCRATS PHIL LOPES AND OLIVIA CAJERO BEDFORD
This is an easy one: We’re going with the incumbents, Phil Lopes and Olivia Cajero Bedford. Lopes has proven himself while serving as the minority leader in the House, and Cajero Bedford has been a reliable vote. Former lawmaker John Kromko, who wants to return to the Legislature, has transformed from a guy who fought for the right things into a political gadfly who engages in conspiracy theories and can no longer be trusted to tell the truth (as he proved with his ill-informed Tucson Water Users’ Bill of Rights last year). At a time when the Democrats have an opportunity to increase their influence at the Legislature, the last thing they need is Kromko in the mix. Vote Lopes and Cajero Bedford.
DISTRICT 29: DEMOCRATS TOM PREZELSKI AND MATT HEINZ
In the most crowded House primary in Arizona, we’re going to go with Tom Prezelski and Matt Heinz. Prezeski knows his way around the Capitol and has been a fine voice for Southern Arizona, while Heinz brings a thoughtful approach to health care, education and taxation. We could almost support Daniel Patterson, who has said many of the Right Things, but we don’t understand how he can simultaneously call for lower taxes and more government spending. We can’t do it all with development impact fees, no matter how good that might sound on the stump. The other four candidates–Ephraim Cruz, Patricia Puig, Eric Bustamante and Gil Guerra–have not shown they’re ready for prime time. Vote Prezelski and Heinz.
DISTRICT 30: REPUBLICANS SHARON COLLINS AND DOUG SPOSITO
Both Sharon Collins and Doug Sposito are too conservative for our tastes, but they’re more thoughtful about state government than Frank Antenori and David Gowan, both of whom promise to shrink government with little regard for the damage it could do to the most vulnerable in our community. Vote for Collins and Sposito.
Arizona Corporation Commission
DEMOCRATS: KARA KELTY, PAUL NEWMAN AND SANDRA KENNEDY
We like the ideas that Kara Kelty, Paul Newman and Sandra Kennedy are talking about on the campaign trail: support for renewable energy and concern for the ratepayers. The fourth Democrat, Sam George, has ignored our efforts to contact him–and if he ignores the media, how responsive do you think he’ll be to the average citizen? Vote Kelty, Newman and Kennedy.
REPUBLICANS: MARIAN MCCLURE AND BARRY WONG
The GOP race is a crowded affair, with eight Republicans from which to choose. We’re going with the ones who support the ACC’s efforts to create a renewable-energy portfolio. Marian McClure, who has been good to Southern Arizona during her eight years in the House, deserves your vote, as does former state lawmaker Barry Wong, a lawyer who served a brief stint on the commission and knows the issues. While we can only bring ourselves to officially endorse McClure and Wong, we’d give our third vote to one of The Bobs, Bob Stump or Bob Robson. (It’s hard for us to tell the difference, but we think Robson is more fond of nuclear power, if that makes a difference to you.) Vote for McClure and Wong, and if necessary, a Bob.
CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT 7: REPUBLICAN GENE CHEWNING
Neither Gene Chewning nor Joe Sweeney stand a chance of winning against Democrat Raúl Grijalva in heavily Democratic Congressional District 7 in November. That said, we have to give our endorsement to Chewning over perennial candidate Joe Sweeney, who has been in rare form this season, with his deranged diatribes against the secret conspiracies of hot-dog vendors to hand out Social Security numbers and the unhealthy genital drives of gays. Vote Chewning.
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