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Recorder: Orr has sigs to remain on ballot

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Recorder: Orr has sigs to remain on ballot

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    Cronkite News ServiceOrr

GOP freshman Ethan Orr will retain his spot on the ballot, with local Democrats dropping their challenge after the Recorder's Office reported that Orr filed 393 valid signatures, 32 more than required — although he had turned in 634 on nominating petitions.

Democrats had filed to kick Orr off the ballot, seeking an easy path to victory for their two candidates in the state House race in LD9. That suit, which claimed Orr had fallen short of the 361 signatures required by filing 288 which were invalid, will be abandoned in the wake of the report from the Recorder's Office.

"I am thankful to put this partisanship behind us, now let's focus on the issues that matter and concentrate on making Southern Arizona a better place to live," Orr said in reaction to the news in a Facebook post.

Orr faces incumbent Democrat Victoria Steele and political newcomer Randy Friese in an election that will see two representatives sent to the state House from the North Side district, which leans Democratic.

Tuesday, Orr said the suit, filed that day, was "politics as usual," while Democrats accused his campaign of "sheer laziness."

The suit, filed by attorney Jeff Rogers, a former chair of the Pima County Democratic Party, will be withdrawn before it is heard by a court next week, as Democrats conceded that Orr filed more than the necessary number of signatures. They had claimed that he was 15 signatures below the threshold to qualify for the ballot. 

While local Dems had spent the middle of the week crowing about their giving Orr a political black eye, they were quieter on the issue following the Recorder's report.

"The courts generally follow the lead of the Recorder's Office on these cases," Rogers said Tuesday.

Jason Ground, a spokesman for the Pima Dems, acknowledged that his party may have been quick to declare victory.

"The folks who checked the signatures were pretty sure," he said Saturday. "As I understand it he's only a few sigs on the good side. Something like 40 percent are still bad. That's just another example of shoddy work ... even if he's still on the ballot he should be embarrassed."

In other developments that added up to a bad week for Orr, he lost his job at the nonprofit Linkages, with some insiders with knowledge of developments suggesting that the legislator had fallen out with GOP heavyweight Jim Click, who founded the organizations that helps train and provide job placements for disabled people.

Orr said Tuesday that he resigned from Linkages on Friday, but both he and Click denied that there has been a falling out between them.

Sources with knowledge of the relationship between Click and Orr, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the pair had disagreements over political policies and issues over the management of Linkages and another firm being started by Orr.

Orr denied that there are any differences between the two men.

"I have nothing but the utmost respect for Jim Click," he said Tuesday. "Jim is still backing me."

Responding to that report on Wednesday (while I was interviewing Orr on the John C. Scott radio show), Click said he still supports Orr politically.

"I don't have any disagreements with Ethan Orr," Click said in a voicemail. "We have not had a falling out."

"I'm going to do everything I can to help him with this issue of the signatures," Click said. "I'm thrilled Ethan won this seat; I'd like to see him keep it."

Orr, a freshman Republican, said he resigned from Linkages because "it's very difficult ... being in Phoenix half the year."

Click founded the nonprofit group, which works to connect disabled people with employers, and serves as the president of its board. Orr had been the executive director of the group since 2004.

Orr said Tuesday that he has founded another agency, Simply Clean and Green, which will teach seriously mentally ill and homeless people "how to work" by doing landscaping and janitorial services. Orr said he has already lined up about 15 clients for the agency.

While he said that he resigned from Linkages because of the amount of time he has to spend at the Legislature in Phoenix, Orr said Wednesday that his new business is located in Tucson.

Rightwing group adds Orr to 'blacklist'

While Orr has spent the week touting a lineup of endorsements, from the Arizona Education Association and the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry to the the Arizona Lodging and Tourism Association and the Arizona Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police, he's also faced a blast from the right and been dubbed a "Legistraitor."

The Alliance of Principled Conservatives — a group founded by Frank Antenori, a former state senator, and political activist Christine Bauserman — has released a "blacklist" of Republicans who it deems aren't sufficiently conservative.

Targeted for their support of an expansion of Medicaid in 2013, Orr and 14 other Republicans shouldn't be re-elected, said the group, which Antenori and Bauserman alternately refer to as the Alliance for Principled Conservatives.

Voters in LD9 should "leave the bubble blank" — a move that would see Steele re-elected and Friese, a UAMC trauma surgeon endorsed by Gabrielle Giffords, face no opposition in the Democratic-leaning district — Antenori and Bauserman said.

The Tea Party faction failed to recruit any candidates to run for the two House seats in the district.

Friday, Antenori suggested that Orr's vote to allow electric car manufacturer Tesla to sell directly to customers in Arizona — legislation that fell in the face of opposition from auto dealers — may have been the source of friction between Click and Orr.

Orr brushed off the partisan attacks, saying that he wants to run "a campaign about the issues" while complaining of "the dirtiest, trickiest campaign" by his opponents.

"Let's have a real election," he said.

"I feel good about this race," Orr said, noting that he has a campaign fund of about $80,000.

"I've spent the last two years trying to not do politics as usual," Orr said. "They may very well win the seat because of it."

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