Republicans have a candidate for Tucson mayor — sort of, maybe
A frequent speaker at Tucson City Council meetings wants to make a leap into the mayor's seat: art gallery owner Robert Reus has filed to run as a Republican candidate.
Reus, who was easily bested by former Councilman Rodney Glassman in a Democratic primary for the Ward 2 seat in 2007, is thus far the only person to file as a Republican to challenge Democratic Mayor Jonathan Rothschild.
He didn't inform GOP headquarters before declaring his candidacy, party officials said.
Reus has the most experience in the Council chambers of anyone seeking to run; he is a frequent speaker during call to the audience segments of meetings, usually expounding on Jeffersonian democracy and advocating that Tucson adopt a strong-mayor form of government. He didn't immediately return phone calls to discuss his candidacy.
Reus owns Sacred Desert Huichol Shop, 527 N. 4th Ave.
To appear on the August primary ballot, he must collect at least 1,306 signatures from registered voters before the May 27 deadline to file nominating petitions.
Rothschild filed the maximum 4,092 signatures on the first day possible, April 27.
Because signature requirements are based on vote totals in the previous election, Democrats must gather nearly double the number of nominating signatures as Republicans — at least 2,047 in the mayoral race.
A Democratic challenger, B-movie actor Chuck Williams, filed to run against Rothschild but is unlikely to file enough signatures to appear on the ballot.
Facing a two-week sprint from his filing on Friday, Reus also has a challenge to be listed on the ballot.
"He filed without contacting me or anyone within the party," Pima County GOP Chairman Bill Beard said.
Beard demurred when asked if the party is still working to recruit a promised mayoral challenger.
"My focus is on getting our candidates elected in November," Beard said.
Three Republicans — Margaret Burkholder, Kelly Lawton and Bill Hunt — are gathering signatures to challenge sitting Democrats Shirley Scott, Paul Cunningham and Regina Romero. Those Council incumbents filed their nominating papers earlier this month. An independent, Derrick Espadas, is also gathering signatures to run against Scott in her East Side ward; he needs 516 to appear on the ballot.
Reus "has filed as a Republican and as such will receive the same access as any other candidate. We play no favorites in the Pima County Republican Party," Beard said.
Beard said earlier this month that the Republicans were still working to recruit a candidate to run against Rothschild. In the last mayoral election, the GOP had a great deal of trouble getting a candidate on the ballot: Shaun McClusky and Ron Asta didn't file enough valid signatures, and Rick Grinnell only got on the general election ballot by garnering enough votes as a write-in in the 2011 primary.
Before Rothschild's 55-percent win that November, Republican Bob Walkup had been mayor since 1999.