When a candidate begins poaching the endorsements earned by his or her rival, consider it a sign that things are not well. You know, like Captain Queeg playing with his ball bearings in The Caine Mutiny.
Last week, shortly after Mark Brnovich's campaign sent out an announcement that state Representative Brenda Barton was endorsing Brnovich in the Republican primary for Arizona Attorney General, incumbent Tom Horne sent out a list of legislators endorsing him.
And on Horne's list was Brenda Barton.
Neither the Horne campaign nor the Attorney General's Office responded to my requests for comment on this matter. Not that I can blame them.
Naturally, Barton was puzzled by Horne's claim.
"As for the motivations of the Horne campaign I cannot speculate," she said in an e-mail to me over the weekend. "It may be just a case of one hand not knowing what the other is doing. Mr. Horne and I have not spoken for quite some time."
Horne's move reeks of desperation. In his announcement from last week, he takes pains to trumpet the number of legislative endorsements he's scored, and the amount of money he's raised, though in the latter case, the dollar amount is inflated by a $100,000 loan from his wealthy sister.
This endorsement-poaching by the AG reminds me of similar antics by recalled, disgraced former state Senate President Russell Pearce.
Pearce was notorious for adding names to his endorsement lists without asking the reputed endorser.
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That Horne's borrowing from Pearce's playbook shows the depths to which he's sunk. A lot of folks have figured Brnovich for a long shot in the primary. But with every misstep like this from the Horne camp, I'm beginning to believe that Brnovich may prove the naysayers wrong.
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