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EATING MCDOWELLA COOK'S TOUR OF PHOENIX'S FUNKIEST RESTAURANT ROW

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Of course, Willey's column makes Steiger look bad. That was the clear intent. The attempt is part of a deliberate and continuing smear campaign which will continue until the primary in September.

Most politicians would ignore the Willey item, hoping it would go away. Not Steiger.

"I'm calling a press conference to explain my side of it," Steiger said.
"I have no problem with people who shoot at me," Steiger said. "I just insist they be accurate." Steiger is going to run his campaign, taking all the attendant risks that have brought him this far.

"I don't want the Republic for an enemy, but I'm not going to back down. We'll stop this thing right now. Every time they say something wrong at me, I'll be coming right back at them." Steiger's right. One of his charms is that there is a perception he will be a good governor because he won't back down under intimidation.

Voters who want Steiger on the ninth floor will be voting for the full Steiger package.

He's a Korean war hero who came back to Arizona with a Silver Star for gallantry under fire and the Purple Heart.

For a decade, he was one of the most effective Republican congressmen in Washington, D.C.

His confrontations with judges, police officers and other nincompoops are such well-known tales that only the moribund Republic would think they were worth repeating.

In short, Steiger will make it to the governor's office because of the accumulation of everything he's done on his way to the ninth floor.

Steiger can't be bought. He can't be cowed. He won't stroll silently into that good night.

I feel sorry for the Republic in this instance. Even it should see there's a terminal problem with Symington's candidacy. Voters simply can't and won't take Symington seriously. He could spend $10 million on television ads before people would start to realize he wasn't selling breakfast cereal.

The Republic doesn't have the clout to get Symington the nomination. The new rule about Arizona politics is that the Republic can't get you elected.

But if it attacks you often enough, it might keep you from getting elected.

We are now seeing that strategy in action.

Back in the old days, when Bernie Wynn was the Republic's political editor, he regularly went through a litany of Steiger's sins.

Wynn has been retired. Before clearing out his desk, however, Wynn apparently passed on his "Attack Steiger" file to Keven Willey, the present political editor.

The attack file includes all the famous anecdotes:
Steiger shot the burros.
Steiger ran the workers off his property with a .30-caliber carbine.

He painted a crosswalk on the street from the Prescott Courthouse to Whiskey Row.

He had a remarkable confrontation with a Department of Public Safety officer who stopped him for a traffic offense.

He once ran for governor on the Libertarian ticket.
He engaged in a vicious primary campaign for the Senate against John Conlan that made it possible for Dennis DeConcini to be elected.

He did all these things and much more. But he is also the one man in this state who can make a difference from the first day he sets foot in the governor's office.

Mecham has already been on the ninth floor. We saw how that ended.
Fred Koory is not a real candidate and Bob Barnes has gone over the edge. He is the only candidate who is campaigning on the results of a lie detector test that no one asked him to take. That one of the tests turned up with the results that he was apparently brain-dead only adds to the farcical aspects of his whole campaign.

Terry Goddard wouldn't even know where the men's rooms are at the State Capitol complex.

There is a possible downside to Steiger's decision to attack the Republic head-on.

It might start running editorial cartoons depicting Steiger as a man with .30-caliber carbine.

Steiger laughed when he heard that.
"I don't think that would be such a bad thing at all," he said.
And that's life in Arizona.

"I have no problem with people who shoot at me," Steiger said. "I just insist they be accurate." PRODUCTION: Please be sure to use this pullquote.

Thanks, cj

Terry Goddard wouldn't even know where the men's rooms are at the State Capitol complex.

Symington could spend $10 million on television ads before people would realize he wasn't selling breakfast cereal.

The new rule about Arizona politics is that the Republic can't get you elected.

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Penelope Corcoran