Labor Targets Arizona

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PHOENIX: Still smarting after Democratic setbacks in the 1994 mid-term elections, union leaders unleashed a massive war chest to avoid a repeat in 1996. For the past year, the AFL-CIO has waged a $35 million campaign against vulnerable GOP freshmen and the Republican positions on Medicare, education and the minimum wage. At the top of the union's target list is Arizona's 6th District, which stretches from the Phoenix suburbs north to the Utah border. Representative J.D. Hayworth, a former college football player and sportscaster, is locked in a tight race with Steve Owens, a former aide to then Senator Al Gore. The AFL-CIO has spent nearly $2 million on a television advertising blitz and organizing a grassroots campaign against Hayworth, who voted against a minimum wage increase, and backs the GOP positions on Medicare and student loans. "This is the showcase race for the AFL-CIO," reports TIME's Richard Woodbury. "They have some 140 operatives in the district helping with phone banks to mobilize voters." The National Republican Congressional Committee has launched a counterattack. "The Republicans have been buying ads linking liberal, labor and Owens together," Woodbury says. "They have criticized Owens for using union money, but they have spent about $1 million of their own in the campaign." -- Josh Dubow