Monday, August 28, 2006

Hellon-Graf Tag Team Body Slam

Saturday morning began as a nice Tucson Republican Women breakfast. It didn't take long for the sparks to fly, however.

Speaking in alphabetical order, Randy Graf followed Antenori and ended his introductory remarks with a request directed at Steve Huffman to keep it clean and stick to the issues the last two weeks of the campaign.

He was followed by an understandably red-faced Mike Hellon who went for Huffman's jugular telling Steve he is "despicable" and that he and Randy have character, but Steve does not. Referring to the Huffman campaign's sneaking around his ex-wife's house, peeping in windows, and taking pictures Mike asked what kind of campaign Steve is running.

Steve Huffman followed Mike saying he apologized if anyone was offended. However, he refused to take any responsibility for the peeping tom activities claiming the Toni Hellon incident is only "conjecture" even though the pictures were posted on the web for all to see and a neighbor caught Bill Arnold in the act. Steve looked beaten, but defiant and left abruptly after his opening remarks stating that he had to help his family move out of their house.

This is the second time that Huffman has made a rapid exit after getting hammered by an opponent in public. The first occurred in Saddlebrook after Graf, as the final candidate to introduce himself, took Huffman's attacks apart point by point after which Huffman left the event. Huffman's inability to participate effectively in public discourse is a sore spot with his supporters. Coupled with other recent incidents, insiders are saying that his campaign is unraveling fast and his weekly polling isn't showing his attack ads to be giving him the boost he hoped for. Of course, any gains might be offset by the negative publicity created by the peeping tom charges.

Although Graf is benefitting somewhat from the demise of the Huffman campaign, expect to see Mike Hellon gain the most traction and pull ahead of Steve if anyone releases a poll in the next week or so. Many party regulars that supported Huffman are beginning to jump ship in support of Hellon and the grassroots support Huffman hoped to obtain from the Tucson Association of Realtors endorsement has failed to materialize.

Republican party leaders don't want to see Huffman poison the well for their nominee. They have watched quietly from the sidelines until now, but are beginning to grow concerned that if things get too ugly, some Republicans and independents who would otherwise support the Republican nominee will sit out the general election. The Pima County Republican party leadership will not likely act, but state and national party leaders are feeling the pressure.

Mike Hellon will continue to run a clean campaign on the issues due to his loyalty to the party and desire to prove to Kolbe and Click that he is the better candiidate. As we stated early in the campaign season, if anyone can pull an upset, it will be Mike Hellon.

Huffman plans to be at the debate Wednesday. Don't expect a change in strategy from the Huffman camp, but look to see how he handles Mike and Randy. It could prove interesting.

1 comment:

Art Jacobson said...

Interesting post (as always) but,WOW, your guys are even crankier than our guys.

'gards