THE OBJECT OF THEIR DESIRE

WOULD-BE POWER COUPLE TOM AND LINDA RAWLES WANT VOTES MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE

Ironically, they have Andy Gordon to thank for bringing them together. Gordon, a former partner at Lewis and Roca, recruited both Tom and Linda to work at the firm. He left in 1992 to head up newly elected Democratic Representative Sam Coppersmith's Washington, D.C., office. Gordon and others at the firm--including Beth Schermer, Coppersmith's wife--were reportedly taken aback when Linda announced her intention to challenge Coppersmith in 1994. (He had not yet decided to run for the Senate.)

Aha! Linda's finally found the right street. She turns the Range Rover into a residential neighborhood and parks, flipping through her list of voters.

The neighborhood, which Linda describes as "upper-lower or lower-middle class," is deserted except for a few kids who race through sprinklers or splash in portable pools. It's hot, but not as hot as you'd expect for the first day of summer in Chandler, Arizona. A thin layer of pale-gray clouds blocks the sun. Says Linda, who grew up poor in Indiana, "To me, anyone who had a doorbell was wealthy." This neighborhood's not so bad.

Most folks aren't home. The few who are look harried, but glad to see Linda when they realize she's not trying to sell anything but her candidacy. Gaggles of kids crowd around tired-looking moms, who open screen doors a crack to accept the campaign paraphernalia or to sign the nominating petition. She tells the voters to read her literature and call with questions.

"I'm working to earn your vote," she tells them. Do you want to sign my petition? she asks a large woman who answers the door wearing nothing but an oversize purple tee shirt. "Yeah, I do, especially when it's female!" the woman says, her wide-mouthed laugh revealing missing front teeth.

The advantage of being a woman is diluted in this race, where Linda has to share the female spotlight with longtime Tempe state legislator Bev Hermon and former Scottsdale city councilwoman Susan Bitter Smith. The fifth candidate in the Republican race is Bert Tollefson, a real estate executive and former government employee.

Linda tries to ignore the other women and Tollefson, claiming the primary is a two-way race between herself and Salmon; she brags that state legislator Chuck Blanchard, the sole Democrat running in CD1, has already started to campaign against her.

And she comforts herself by walking every day. Already, Tom estimates, Linda's given out almost 4,000 copies of The Imperial Congress.

The walk is cut short today; Linda is the featured speaker at the District 27 Republican meeting tonight. She pulls up to the house at the same time as Tom, and rushes off to shower while her husband greets the dogs and sorts the mail.

Tom's had a busy day, too. He spent the morning in a county budget workshop; while the others discussed the official budget, he pored over his calculator, devising his own alternative to offer later in the week. Linda pads out to the kitchen in stocking feet, hair slicked back, wearing a navy-and-white, figure-hugging dress.

"What color shoes?" she calls from the hall closet to Tom, who's still reading the mail at the kitchen table. "Anything but white." She waves a pair of silver and gold at him.

"Anything but white," he says, barely looking up.
"I don't even have white," she says, hearing him for the first time. She chooses black, and sits on the couch to apply layers of liquid makeup and lipstick. Tom quizzes her about her speech, and it's decided that Clayton and Tom will eat pizza for dinner.

The couple pauses a moment to read a letter from Arizona Republican National Committeeman Mike Hellon. The letter, addressed to "All Republican Candidates," urges GOPers in contested primaries to avoid personal attacks. ". . . . Misrepresentations about, or gratuitous attacks on the character, family, or motives of a Republican primary opponent will immediately precipitate the most aggressive pre-primary opposition I can muster," Hellon writes.

Linda drives through Jack-In-The Box for a Diet Coke. She can't eat before a public speaking engagement.

Addressing the couple of dozen Tempe Republicans, she apologizes for Tom's absence--he wishes he could be there, but Clayton's Little League awards presentation is tonight--then shares her message of economic and personal freedom.

When it's time for questions, her GOP opponent Tollefson jumps to his feet. Tollefson is prone to sudden, public outbursts of political incorrectness. Recently, at a forum sponsored by the Arizona Republican Caucus, he chastised his fellow candidates who have children at home for running.

"Linda, I'm sorry to say, but everybody's talking about how Tom's out there raising your money for you," he says, his voice booming through the Tempe City Council chambers where District 27 Republicans meet.

A murmur runs through the crowd.
"Come on, Bert." "Sit down."
He doesn't, continuing to harp on the ambulance company looking for county business that gave Linda's campaign $11,000 last year.

Linda remains composed. Her simple denial of impropriety seems enough to satisfy the crowd, and, in the end, Tollefson's outburst is a plus. No one seems to care whether Tom might have bagged her some contributions. Blue-haired ladies hug her when she's done, and state Representative Gary Richardson turns around in his seat to comment, "I think Bert is getting more votes for her."

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