By New Times
By Connor Radnovich
By Robrt L. Pela and Amy Silverman
By Ray Stern
By Keegan Hamilton
By Matthew Hendley
By Monica Alonzo
By Monica Alonzo
It happens each time they meet.
Sam Steiger and Ev Mecham appear on the same platform and Mecham turns into a seething mass of fury before long.
The game begins when Steiger warns the audience of Republican voters:
"The problem is that Ev can't win the general election." Mecham is predictable. His response is always the same.
"Don't you say that, Sam. Don't you ever say that!" he replies.
Knowing how much it agitates Mecham to hear these words, Steiger keeps repeating them.
Steiger keeps smiling and chatting to the audience. And at regular intervals, he makes sure that he repeats the phrase about Mecham being unable to win a general election. Sometimes, he gives it a slightly different twist.
"Sure, I agree that Ev got a raw deal," Steiger will say. "But the truth of the matter is that he can no longer win a general election in Arizona.
"In fact, if Ev were to become the candidate against Terry Goddard, then the Republican party might also lose its majority in both the House and Senate." Mecham, ever the thin-skinned zealot, is predictable. He always becomes increasingly agitated as Steiger's performance continues.
At a recent meeting, Mecham appeared ready to go over the edge.
He moved to within a few feet of Steiger and said heatedly:
"I'm warning you for the last time, Sam. Don't you ever say that about me again!" ®FC¯
Mecham is running on short money. If you haven't received a copy of his campaign tabloid, you are not alone. Mecham never had enough money to print the number that he boasted about in the first place. And now, he's having trouble raising enough to print a second edition.
Money is tight around the state.
Fred Koory's campaign is stalled and he's reached a point where the contributions have halted. If Koory had any sense, he'd drop out.
Even Fife Symington is running out of money. His personal business ventures are in the doldrums. Symington has used up all his personal funds and is now borrowing from his wife to keep his campaign going.
But don't start thinking it's time for a Symington benefit. He can make it without applying for food stamps.
The only two candidates who aren't having trouble raising money at this point are Steiger and Goddard.
Goddard will be the beneficiary of a fund raiser in New York at the home of Brooke Newell, the young lady who sometimes stands behind him on platforms.
The code name among the Goddard people is "Nancy," and the price is $25 and up. Anyone who wishes to reach the Newell residence can call (212) 289-0146 or (212) 230-2231.
Miss Newell smiles at rumors that she and Goddard plan to marry before the election.
"Terry's a nice young man," she says, "and I'd like to help him if I can. But there's nothing serious." ®FC¯
This is a strange campaign. Steiger is leading the Republicans but he could have more trouble winning the primary than the general election. It's difficult to get an accurate count on the members of the Mecham Militia.
Despite what the political experts at the Arizona Republic say, the expected low turnout among Republicans in the primary could actually lead to Mecham being returned as their candidate.
What makes it so difficult for anyone running against Mecham is that his hard-core supporters will stick with him no matter what happens. And there's always the possibility they may not vote for anyone else if he doesn't make it to the general election.
So if Steiger, Symington, and Koory are surging upward by the time of the primary on September 11, there might not be enough votes to overcome Mecham.
Ironically, once Steiger gets by Mecham, he could actually have an easier time beating Goddard in the general election. Goddard's support is about an inch deep and he's widely regarded as a dilettante who can't get things done.
A behind-the-scenes drama of sorts is building around the campaign television commercials. They could play a decisive role down the stretch.
Symington brought in an expensive all-star team of writers, camera operators and lighting people for the series of commercials he has already run.
Goddard reportedly will have the services of the hottest political TV production group in the country.
On the other hand, Steiger's commercials will be patterned after those run by First Interstate Bank during the National Basketball Association playoffs.
The bank commercials featured Cotton Fitzsimmons, Paul Westphal and other members of the Phoenix Suns speaking unrehearsed about their jobs. They were extremely effective.
Steiger will use the same format. His commercials will be filmed in an old house in Prescott and they'll have an authentic Arizona feel to them. They will run thirty seconds each.
They will not be scripted. Steiger is too good a talker not to take advantage of his natural, pungent wit. The commercials will be shot by simply placing him before the camera. Subjects will be brought up and Steiger will ruminate about what it takes to be a good governor of Arizona.
Filming the commercials will be his 33-year-old twin sons, Lew and Gail. Their 1988 film Ranch Album was nominated for an Academy Award in the documentary field. It is presently being marketed by Arizona Highways and Western Horseman.