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Volgy, Kolbe win party primaries

By Anthony C. Braza
Arizona Daily Wildcat
September 9, 1998
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Arizona Daily Wildcat

UA professor and former Tucson mayor Tom Volgy took another step toward the U.S. Congress yesterday by winning the District 5 Democratic primary election.

Volgy beat labor union official Wayne Bryant, capturing 81.5 percent of the District 5 vote. He now must start working to upset seven-term incumbent Jim Kolbe in the November general election.

"We are going to do what we have been doing - grass roots stuff and coffees," Volgy said from his campaign headquarters last night. "We will work real hard to bring community-based representation back to Tucson and Arizona."

Volgy, a political science professor who specializes in international politics, was Tucson's mayor from 1987 until 1991, when he lost a special election for a House seat vacated by Morris Udall. He also served on the Tucson City Council from 1977 to 1987.

Volgy has said that his entire campaign is based on trying to beat Kolbe in the general election, and after seeing the results Tuesday, he was relieved his plan paid off.

"We took a huge gamble because we didn't use any resources on the primary," he said.

Kolbe beat Joseph Sweeney in the Republican primary, capturing 79.5 percent of the vote. He said that although Volgy has the greatest name recognition of any of his recent competitors, he did not plan to change the campaign strategy.

"I have always sought the advice of the voters," Kolbe said. "We will spend more money on television and mail, but the strategy will remain the same."

Tucson Republicans voted in greater numbers than the Democrats. While Volgy and Kolbe beat their respective opponents by nearly identical margins, Kolbe received 7,000 more actual votes.

Kolbe attributed the relatively high Republican-voter turnout to the many races the party has in the state.

Volgy has refused to accept political action committee money to fund his campaign and has continuously attacked Kolbe for accepting money from outside interests. Volgy told supporters he would not change during the remainder of the campaign.

"We are going to show we can do it without special interest money," Volgy said. "We are going to go to the voters and let them know they have a choice between special interest politics and real representation."

Kolbe's campaign director, George Gobble, said the incumbent accepts PAC money, but not to the extreme his competition advertises.

"Jim has always supported keeping 50 percent of his money coming from his district," Gobble said. "He also supported a one-third cap on political action committee funds."

In the Democratic primary, Bryant received 18 percent of the vote and one-fifth of 1 percent went to write-in candidates. Sweeney received 20 percent of the Republican-primary vote, and write-ins received about one-fourth of 1 percent.

As the election heats up during the coming months, one UA student thinks the seat will not be won easily by either candidate.

"If you look at voting habits, it is difficult to beat an incumbent," said UA College Republicans Vice Chair Brian Appel. "But Volgy has a shot because he has a name in the university."

"It is going to be a fight," Appel said.

Anthony C. Braza can be reached via e-mail at Anthony.C.Braza@wildcat.arizona.edu.

Financial Times Fall 98