An Exercise in Utility

Jim Irvin is poised to give the GOP a Corporation Commission majority for the first time in a decade. If that happens, Democratic activist Barbara Sherman and her mentor, Commission chairman Renz Jennings, will both wind up losers.

But then again, neither has Sherman--until recently.
As for the charge that he is a country-club Republican, Irvin notes that Sherman's 1994 filing for a failed Tempe mayoral bid listed a hefty portfolio of 59 separate investments. Her filings for this race list 53 separate investments; the filings do not require disclosure of their value.

"She's quite comfortable, believe me," he says.
Inside the auditorium, the boom of Hayworth's voice can be heard.
"I'm sorry, I don't want to miss this," he says, shrugging as he turns to walk away.

Irvin and Sherman are scheduled to meet for additional debates in Tucson and Phoenix. In the meantime, Irvin's ads continue to play out on the radio and his signs continue to go up as he funnels more money into a race for one of the state's most obscure offices.

But will his investment pay off? Without polls to judge the race by, it's tough to say who's ahead.

One Republican operative who has watched the race closely, though, points out that Irvin's money is no guarantee of victory.

Ever since the 1985 debacle that swept Jennings and Weeks into office, the GOP source says, voters--especially Sun City Republicans who are more than willing to embrace antitax Republican governors and legislators--have balked at allowing Republicans to run the commission that regulates utility rates.

"Their feeling is they got burned the last time," he says. "Irvin will have his work cut out for him trying to convice them he'll be any different."

The presidential race is another factor working against Irvin, the source says. If Bob Dole generates tepid support among Republicans, the GOP turnout will naturally be lower.

"There are a lot more things working against Irvin than for him," the source says. "This is definitely an uphill battle.

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