Mo Udall ended more than his own Congressional career when he retired this spring, conceding at long last to the withering disease that has dogged his footsteps for so long. As Udall stepped down, Arizona slipped from pre-eminence to oblivion in the pecking order of the U.S. House of Representatives.

The effect of this transformation, remote though it may seem to someone waiting for the 5 p.m. bus at Central and Thomas, would be hard to overstate. Federal subsidies, such as those that made the Central Arizona Project possible, are only the most obvious means by which Udall protected his beloved home state. For three decades, Mo, the consummate saddle-bred statesman, carefully wrapped Arizona in a safety net of grants, loans and subsidies even as he preserved its illusion of Western self-reliance.

The election of Udall's successor to Congressional District 2 is as important to voters here as in Tucson, the traditional seat of the district. Udall's district actually takes in a big chunk of the Phoenix-metropolitan area because, in the last federal reapportionment, the state's Republican majority sculpted the boundaries of his district to include as many Maricopa County Democrats as possible.

The Republicans packed so many Democrats into Mo's district, in fact, that the only relevant race for his seat is the Democratic primary, scheduled for August 13. And of the five Democrats running, only three--Maricopa County Supervisor Ed Pastor, Tucson Mayor Tom Volgy and possibly Tucson abortion-rights activist Virginia Yrun--are expected to tally more than three digits on the state's election computers.

A person, especially in the heat of an August afternoon, might easily overlook this race. Indeed, it has been all but overlooked by most of Phoenix's major media, which have devoted far more attention to the battles over potential new Congressional seats than to the competition to fill this existing one.

Despite the Democratic odds, the race carries symbolic importance far beyond district boundaries, maintains Mo Udall's brother Stewart. Mo himself transcended such limitations to become a statesman of national stature. "Serving constituents is one function, but there are those who become U.S. Congressmen, in the sense of serving the whole nation, by taking a broad MD120 Col 1, Depth P54.04 I9.06 interest in the larger issues," says Stewart, who preceded Mo in Congress and left to become President John F. Kennedy's secretary of the Interior.

Mo Udall, still confined to a VA convalescent home in the Washington, D.C., area after breaking his hip last fall, left no hand-picked successor on the Arizona political scene. But he left a legacy by which voters can measure the race's ten candidates, says his brother.

"That is a large order to ask of these young people running for his seat, and I wouldn't want to build expectations that they could accomplish what he did, in the short run," Stewart comments. "But in outlook and ability, certainly, I would want to see this in his successor."

FROM HIS EARLIEST DAYS in Congress--long before seniority enlarged his influence--Mo Udall stood out because of his ideals and his integrity. "Mo was certainly one of the strongest environmental voices in Congress," notes Stewart Udall. "He was also a reformer, especially back in the Fifties and Sixties before his [Parkinson's disease] began to slow him down."

"Mo wanted to make the political system work better," Stewart explains. "He spoke up on the financing of political campaigns, for instance. His position was to have more public financing so there could be less domination by special interests."

Of the three front-running Democrats, only Tom Volgy has picked up Udall's cry for campaign-finance reform, crusading against "the river of money" he blames for perverting the Democratic process into a game for special interests. To make his point, Volgy has voluntarily imposed a spending cap of $1.25 per Democratic voter on himself in the primary and is refusing to take money from political action committees (PACs).

He needled the other candidates to do so as well, reaping points in the voters' eyes when none did. His opponents, however, needled back, pointing out that he hasn't ruled out taking PAC money in the future. Volgy denies he is waffling.

"If you limit the amount of money a candidate can raise, you automatically limit the power of the PACs because that's where most of the money is coming from," Volgy reasons. "PACs were originally supposed to be a tool of reform, and there's nothing inherently wrong with them, but they've been corrupted by the river of money."

Col 3, Depth P54.02 I9.03 United States destitute and without knowing a word of English. He recounts a childhood of grinding urban poverty, but managed to earn a Ph.D. and now teaches international politics at the University of Arizona.

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Kathleen Stanton