It's perhaps not a great secret, but current Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall has a great big bullseye on her back. Although she ran almost unopposed a little over two years ago, she will not have that luxury this time around.
It is well known that Ex-Pima County Democratic Chief Paul Eckerstrom has been ramping up for a primary challenge, but we may even have a at least one Republican challenger stepping forward as well, former Pima County Prosecutor Brad Roach.
Roach left the Prosecutor's office almost two years ago and founded the Leonardo and Roach Law Office Apparently, Roach and Eckerstrom are good friends despite their party differences.
I spoke to another former prosecutor a while back about this issue and he told me that Barbara, despite her past scandals would always be tough to beat. "She only actually attends to county business about 10 hours a week. The rest of the time she is in constant campaign mode, speaking at every Chamber of Commerce, neighborhood watch group, or Bar-Mitzvahs that will have her. " She is very conscious of her public image, almost obsessive, and has in the past just plain outworked her competition on the campaign trail. She will have to work even harder to retain her position this time around.
Roach in particular has an ax to grind. Two years ago, LaWall attempted to terminate his employment after the murder of Dr. Brian Stidham. As far as I can surmise her reasoning was that, because Roach was friends with former Bradley Schwartz girlfriend Lourdes Lopez, he should have been able to prevent the slaying, or at worst figure it out immediately ala Matlock. Of course, after consulting with others with more sense, she reduced the penalty to a three week suspension, which in turn was struck down by the Merit Commission. During her testimony to the merit commission, Lawall was caught lying under oath.
From the Tucson Weekly by the late Chris Limberis:
The sad thing about this is that it really had no bearing on the perceived case against Roach. Why be untruthful about something that didn't matter? Also, how many County Prosecutors have a PR Man?
LaWall testified that she was surprised to learn that word of the discipline--and four prosecutors being escorted out of the Legal Services Building--made the news. She swore that she didn't call or arrange for a call to be made to KGUN reporter Terry Gonzalez in attempt to discover the tipster, whom she believed was Brad Roach.
Roach: My question to you was, my answer to you was Terry Gonzalez from KGUN 9 called me, and then I told you that you've got a leak from somewhere else, right. ... And this, the media event surrounding this thing was so important to you that you not only took my answer, but you called Terry Gonzalez from KGUN to talk to her about it, right?
LaWall: Somebody else in my office called.
Roach: Did you talk to her?
Roach: And you had somebody else from the office call and talk to Terry Gonzalez about the media attention?
LaWall: I did not direct anybody else to make that call. They just made the call.
LaWall tried to pin the call on her-then PR man Dan Benavidez, but Gonzalez appeared at the Merit Commission and refuted that.
Gonzalez: The best I can remember is sometime in December, I received a call from Barbara LaWall, her secretary called me and put the call through and said that she needed to talk to me--you want me to go into details?
Roach: Yes, please.
Gonzalez: She wanted to know how I found out about the prosecutors, their discipline on that day. She was baffled and a little bit annoyed, and I told her I couldn't tell her that. ... I clearly stated Brad Roach never called me.
Roach: If Barbara LaWall testified last week and said under oath that she did not call you about this case, your memory would be different?
Gonzalez: Clearly she called me.
Should be a lot more interesting race this time around.