What, Chip & Robbie, Nothing Happened This Week?

I was disappointed by this morning’s Political Insider column in the Arizona Republic. Yeah, most of the time, it is written too smugly (it is, after all, a “tounge-in-cheek look at Arizona politics”). This morning, the column consisted of one item, a short one too, about Rep. David Burnell Smith’s campaign finance woes. This is old news, really. The only question right now is how far along does this get before a judge orders the capitol police to clear Smith’s office. Still left unexplored by our state’s flagship paper is the connection that Smith has with political consultant Constantine Querard. Querard also did work for serveral other legislators, many of whom have also had their campaign finances scrutinized.

That would be too much to ask.

Well, I know that I shouldn’t expect incisive investigative journalism from what is, in essence, a gossip column. But, we live in a state of four million people and this week this is the only item that was worth mentioning? Egads.

Here’s an item that they could have mentioned: Rep. Jack Jackson Jr. is making noises about running against US Rep. Rick Renzi. Jackson represented a large swath of northern Arizona but didn’t choose to run for re-election last year. His candidacy would gain national attention since Renzi is in one of the few “swing” districts in the country, and also because Jackson is openly gay and Navajo.

Jackson would be the first Native American to represent Arizona should he win, but the second openly gay congressman, although Rep. Jim Kolbe didn’t come out until he had served several terms. I think that Jackson would be the only Native American in congress since Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell left office.

It is hard to know if the “gay thing” would be a problem for him. Also, in some of the areas of the district there is tension going on between anglos and native americans over water issues. If Jackson thought that either one of these things was going to sink his candidacy, he’d choose not to run at all. I don’t know him that well, although my brother seemed to enjoy working with him in the legislature. He doesn’t strike me as a guy that would just do this on a lark. If he’s going to do it, it’s only after he’s figured out a way to win.

(NB – Thanks to Jane at Arizona Congress Watch for the heads up on this. I also found an article in the Navajo Times about a possible run by Jackson.)

The candidates are now lined up for this year’s city council election. The candidates turned in their nominating petitions this week. Some of us who follow this way too closely like to look at the number of signatures and try to read something into them. The number of signatures turned in can tell you whether or not a candidate has a decent organization. It can get a bit more complex than that, for example, a candidate can pay signature gatherers and not have any grass roots support. So, take what you will from these numbers.

In Ward 3, a Democrat needs 271 signatures, and Karin Uhlich turned in the maximum, 541. Republican incumbent Kathleen Dunbar needed a minimum of 145, and turned in 245, 1 and 2/3 times what she needed.

In Ward 5, long time Democratic Councilmember Steve Leal turned in his maximum 422, he only needed to turn in 211. His opponent Vernon Walker only needed turn in 58 (!), he turned in 102, just shy of twice what he needed. Expect there to be a challenge, given the low number of signatures involved.

Both Democratic challengers in Ward 6, Nina Trasoff and Steve Farley, turned in the maximum of 872 signatures, twice the minimum. Councilmember and Oprah Guest Fred Ronstadt had to turn in at least 234, but turned in 350.

In each case, the Democratic candidates collected far more than the maximum, they just didn’t turn them in (signatures over the maximum can’t be considered for filing). This gives them a chance to go through their petitions and make absolutely sure they are only turning in good signatures. Not so with the Republican candidates. Expect their petitions to be looked over and at least one attempt to get a candidate bounced from the ballot.

Wouldn’t it be awful if Dunbar or Ronstadt couldn’t run for re-election? One can always hope.