To hear the liberal media, the Democratic Party and a few disgruntled liberal Republicans tell it, the seat of retiring Rep. Jim Kolbe (R.-Ariz.) is already lost to the Democrats. Republican nominee Randy Graf would save himself a month of aggravation by conceding now, they will tell you, and Democrat Gabrielle Giffords can start hiring staff and contacting real estate agents in Washington, D.C.
To all that, conservatives throughout Arizona’s 8th District and nationwide should chorus in unison: “You’re dreaming!”
Graf, stalwart conservative and former majority whip of the state house of representatives, made headlines two years ago when he pulled a handsome 43% of the vote against moderate Republican 20-year incumbent Kolbe. Graf drew a vivid contrast between himself and the seemingly untouchable Kolbe by campaigning foursquare on conservative themes: solidly pro-life, for the 2nd Amendment, and—most significant in the Tucson-based district that stretches along the Mexican border—for tough border-security measures and against amnesty for illegal aliens. In fact, the conservative swashbuckler put his name on the Grand Canyon State political map as senior adviser for Project Arizona Now’s Proposition 200, which would deny public services to illegal immigration. The measure passed statewide by 56% to 44% in November 2004.
When Kolbe announced his retirement and his former primary opponent declared for the open seat, the “Graf-can’t-win” mantra started. But Graf did win, topping a field of five primary candidates that included the hand-picked candidate of the outgoing congressman. All of Graf’s erstwhile opponents thereupon endorsed the nominee, as did Arizona’s six Republicans in Congress and the U.S. House GOP leadership. The lone holdout is Kolbe.
“And most importantly, Randy has the best volunteer organization because he motivates the gun owners, cultural conservatives, small-government and low-tax Republicans and libertarians—just like Ronald Reagan did,” says campaign manager R.T. Gregg, a former Reagan Administration official, “and he’s facing someone who is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Howard Dean wing of the Democratic Party.”
Just a glance at Giffords’ major-donor list proves Gregg’s point that the Democratic nominee is the candidate of the far left. Contributors to Giffords include: the Communications Workers of America ($5,000), the pro-abortion EMILY’s List ($1,448), the Human Rights Campaign PAC ($1,600), the National Education Association ($5,000), the Sierra Club ($5,000), and the United Food and Commercial Workers Union ($10,000). You get the picture.
And conservatives must get the picture as well: Randy Graf can hold Arizona’s 8th District for them, but only if his fellow cause-driven allies make him a major cause this fall.