Fri, April 03

Congressional race a crowded affair

It looks life a free-for-all again for Democrats in the District 1 Congressional race. Rick Renzi has flown a Republican banner in the district, supported by a lot of Washington clout, for two terms.

Even though the rural district spans 60,000 square miles and half the state, all candidates in this campaign hail from north-central Arizona.

The Arizona Democratic Party this year also has not chosen to focus its effort against Renzi as it did in the 2004 race. At that time, all contenders were allegedly asked to back away from the Primary, allowing Paul Babbitt a clear shot and a full war chest to run against Renzi. Still Babbitt could not dominate Renzi.

The rural district with a Democratic majority is considered an important race to win for both parties. The initial Democratic field shrank in March when Jack Jackson Jr. dropped out of the race. Five Democrats remain.

Bob Donahue of Cornville, Babbitt's only contender in 2004, is back again. A retired businessman with a degree in economics, Donahue, was once chairman of the Coconino Republican Party before becoming disenchanted and switching to a Democrat. He operated a heavy equipment business in Flagstaff before moving to the Verde Valley. Donahue now runs a senior assisted living center in Cornville.

Another Verde Valley candidate is Ellen Simon. The daughter of two Holocaust survivors, Simon has a distinguished career as a civil rights attorney, advocate and community activist. She is listed in Best Lawyers in America. Simon lives in Sedona with her husband and two children.

Mike Caccioppoli is a radio talk show host and Democratic activist. He got his start at prestigious WABC in New York City and developed his career in Las Vegas, where he worked at several stations. Caccioppoli, who lived in Kingman at the time, was an early candidate in the 2004 race against Renzi, and later worked to elect John Kerry. He now makes his home in Flagstaff.

Vic McKerlie of Prescott was a conservative Democratic candidate for Yavapai County assessor in 2004. He has worked as a dentist in private practice and public health for 20 years.

Susan Friedman is a Prescott marketing executive and was also an '04 State Senate nominee.

David Schlosser is a Libertarian from Flagstaff who has no party opposition and will advance to the General Election in November, along with the winner of the Democratic Primary.

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