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Pundits are calling Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu a longshot in the Congressional District 4 race after revelations about his lifestyle.

Babeu, a Republican in his first term as sheriff, acknowledged that he is gay, after a story in the Phoenix New Times said Babeu had threatened to have his ex-lover deported if the man revealed their relationship. Babeu denied the threat claim in a statement and at a lengthy news conference on Saturday.

Opponents are already saying the revelation makes Babeu unfit for a seat in Congress. The Huffington Post in a followup posting today said the news could bring to an end what many had seen as a bright future for Babeu.

Arizona Public Media political correspondent Christopher Conover will discuss the facts and potential future for Babeu in an interview with Arizona Illustrated host Tony Paniagua tonight at 6:30 on PBS-HD6.

Arizona Congressional District 4 Paul Babeu Pinal County,


Republican Jesse Kelly was the first candidate to file nominating petitions to run for Congress in district 8.

He filed about 60 more signatures than the minimum number needed to qualify for the special election primary ballot, but said in a news release he'll continue to file more signatures.

Five other candidates are running, and will also have to turn in signatures; they are Republicans Frank Antenori, John Lervold, Martha McSally and Dave Sitton, plus Democrat Ron Barber.

The deadline for signatures is Feb. 27. All candidates who want to be on the ballot will have to file signatures from registered voters by that day. The number of signatures required depends on the candidate's party registration.

CD8 Dave Sitton Frank Antenori Jesse Kelly John Lervold Martha McSally Ron Barber,


Governor Jan Brewer has been backing legislative changes to state employment policies, and she recently asked the legislature to consider her plans to revise the employee merit system.

The employment protection system spells out how employees may be hired, fired and disciplined.

A bill (HB 2571) to make make it faster to hire, easier to hire, and easier to fire, is scheduled for a hearing in the House Employment and Regulatory Affairs committee Thursday morning.

“We need to have tools at our disposal more like what the private sector has, to reward those employees that are performing and to discipline those employees who are not," said Matt Benson, a governor's office spokesman.

The proposed changes could make it easier to retain employees who might otherwise leave for jobs at private companies, he said.

Unions representing state employees have said the Governor’s plan takes away protections for good employees, but Benson says it gives the state a greater ability to reward those good employees.

If the Arizona House and Senate pass the bill, and Brewer signs it into law, it would go into effect starting September 29. Most of the 29,000 state employees already covered could stay in the merit system, but Benson says some, such as supervisors, IT employees or attorneys would automatically lose coverage in the merit system.


With five elections in the next nine months (that's right, count 'em: presidential preference Feb. 28, CD8 special primary April 17, CD8 special general June 17, regular fall primary Aug. 28, regular general Nov. 6) the number and names of candidates is already starting to get confusing.

We're attempting to make this easier to figure out, with a list of candidates for each of the congressional races in Southern Arizona. Check the list for the latest information on the races, we'll update it as candidates enter, drop out, and officially qualify for the ballot in their respective races.


Andrei Cherny resigned Monday from his position as chairman of the Arizona Democratic Party. In his resignation message, he said many of the people who urged him to run for the chairmanship are now urging him to "take on a new and different task."

While Cherny hasn't yet announced his plans or described that new task, he has launched a congressional campaign website, which allows people to sign up for email updates. He hasn't filed as a candidate with the Federal Elections Commission, either, which is a requirement for anyone running in a federal election such as a congressional race.

The Arizona Capitol Times reports: "Cherny is expected to soon announce he is running for Congress in the new 9th Congressional District, which includes parts of Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, and Mesa."

Democrat State Sen. Kyrsten Sinema has filed to run in that district, as has her Democratic colleague state Sen. David Shapira. Republican businessman Travis Grantham has also filed.

Andrei Cherny CD9 David Shapira Kyrsten Sinema Travis Grantham,


Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu commissioned a survey last week that shows he's leading the Republican field in the race for congressional district 4.

Public Opinion Strategies surveyed 300 likely Republican primary voters over the phone Jan. 18 and 19, and in a memo, says Babeu got 31 percent of the voters. That compares to U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar's 23 percent, and state Sen. Ron Gould's 19 percent.

The margin of error is 5.6 percent, and the company didn't include the survey questions or response options in the memo of the results.

Babeu and Gould are "very strong in their geographic bases of Pinal and Mojave counties respectively, while Gosar's numbers in his base of Yavapai County are underwhelming," the company says in the memo.

CD4 Paul Babeu Paul Gosar Ron Gould,

About Political Buzz

News, commentary, analysis from the AZPM political team: Christopher Conover, Andrea Kelly, Michael Chihak.