Salmon, a former Congressman who led the 1998 coup attempt against House Speaker Newt Gingrich, has brushed off barbs likening him to his G.O.P. predecessors but has had a harder time deflecting attention from his wallet. He has received about $150,000 so far this year to lobby Congress for Phoenix civic projects (like the city's proposed light-rail system) that could deprive other Arizona cities of federal funds. "Are you running for Governor, or are you doing business?" asks Cecelia Martinez, director of the state's Clean Elections Institute.
Attorney general Napolitano has a different kind of money problem: she has urged lawmakers to reconsider a tax on Medicaid premiums to raise $40 million to $60 million toward cutting the deficit. In a state that considers tax cuts and air conditioning divine rights, Napolitano could be in for rough going. She also has a bit of a charisma problem. As a Phoenix New Times columnist put it, "Napolitano has been noteworthy ... only for her keen ability to strategically avoid being noteworthy."
Watching all this with glee is Mahoney. The 37 stitches in his thigh have been removed, and the former academic is back behaving like a typical indie maverick. He routinely calls Salmon and Napolitano "Tweedledee and Tweedledum," and he is polling at 6%, which means he could be the difference maker between Governor Tweedledee and Governor Tweedledum.