Maricopa County Attorney Campaign Barely Covered by Arizona Republic

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A recent headline in the right-wing blog Sonoran Alliance that claims the Arizona Republic has a "blackout" of coverage for the 2010 race for Maricopa County Attorney seems to be accurate.

An archive search shows the state's largest newspaper has written almost nothing about the Republican candidates' competitive race for the August 24 primary election.

The difference in coverage is dramatic when compared to the Republic's run-up to the 2008 election for the same post, which featured numerous stories about the contenders for that year's Democratic primary, Gerald Richard and Tim Nelson.

For instance, the Republic published a weekly series prior to the 2008 primary that posed a question to the two candidates, who were battling for the chance to take on then-incumbent County Attorney Andrew Thomas.

Nothing too surprising here, of course: The Republic's coverage has leaned unapolegetically to the left in the last few years, and it rivals (though doesn't surpass) New Times for criticism of Thomas and his soul-mate, Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Readers of the paper of record may be surprised, however, if the winner of the Republican primary turns out not to be the Republic's apparent choice for county attorney, Richard Romley, but one of Romley's opponents, Chandler Mayor Boyd Dunn or longtime deputy county attorney (until he resigned to run for office) Bill Montgomery.

In fact, Montgomery's got a real chance to beat Romley, the way we see it. Nevermind that Montgomery spoke insultingly of his political benefactor, Arpaio, during a meeting with County Supervisor Don Stapley. Arpaio still supports Montgomery and the sheriff's political weight and ability to raise money can't be underestimated.

On top of that disadvantage, the Republican Party likes Montgomery better than Romley (who endorsed Nelson in 2008) or Dunn. The Executive Guidance Committee of the Maricopa County Republican Committee voted 18-8 last week to endorse Montgomery.

Since being appointed Interim County Attorney by the Board of Supervisors, Romley has been working steadily to repair relations with the Board, has dismantled Thomas' program to prosecute illegal immigrants for smuggling themselves and took away $700,000 in funding from the sheriff's effort to raid businesses that employ undocumented workers.

While those efforts may endear Romley to a range of voters on both sides of the political spectrum, they aren't sitting well with Republicans -- who might be kind of important in the primary.

We assume the Republic will step up the coverage before the election, still a few weeks away. But for now, it seems like the idea is to help Romley by "forgetting" to mention his arguably more-right-wing opponent, Montgomery. Oh, yeah, and that Chandler mayor, too.

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