By Amy Silverman
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"I have no doubts he'll get most of what he wants this legislature," says Democratic State Senator Chuck Blanchard.
Symington's early-term political embarrassments--which led to the resignations of top aides George Leckie and Annette Alvarez--have faded somewhat, friends and opponents say, and have left Symington with some room to maneuver.
Among other things, the governor is promising to push for criminal-code reforms (although he vetoed a reform package last year), beef up collection of child-support payments and scrub the state budget in search of possible tax cuts.
Symington has already said he will run for a second term, and the political gossip mills are busily prognosticating on his most likely opponents.
Most mentioned on the Democratic side are Secretary of State Dick Mahoney, Phoenix Mayor Paul Johnson and former mayor Terry Goddard, who lost to Symington last time around. Attorney General Grant Woods is believed to be the most likely to challenge Symington in the Republican primary. None of the men will publicly say if he plans to run.
Privately, leading Democrats say that Symington's continuing business and legal problems should make him an easy target in the next election. Polls done by the Clinton campaign before the November election, they say, showed Symington was vulnerable.
"If he faces a decent candidate, he's dead," says one Democrat. "If he wants to win, he needs to start a war with Sonora. He needs to do a minor Desert Storm."
Sitting alone in his restaurant waiting to see how much longer he can keep the doors open, Tom Martinez says that, if Symington does run again, he had best not try to run on the basis of his business record.
"I have absolutely no respect left for the man," Martinez says. "He has financially ruined me.