October 25, 2006 - Gail Griffin, an admirer of Ronald Reagan, has been busy.
Though Griffin did not return phone calls for this story, she did respond to an e-mail and participated in a previous interview with the EXPLORER in July.
It has been clear since before the primary that some Republicans wanted to oust current District 25 Rep. Jennifer Burns, a Republican that Griffin and others consider too moderate.
In fact, the Cochise County Republican Party Web site lists many state and federal offices held by Republicans but does not mention Burns anywhere on the site. Griffin, who lives in Cochise County and used to chair the Republican Party there, and another Republican tried to help one another in an effort to defeat Burns.
Griffin contributed to the campaign of Roger Condra, who exited the race after September's primary. Condra, in turn, gave Griffin money.
"We would like to see Gail and (Mary Ann) Black elected," Cochise County Republican Party Treasurer Dick Haines said, failing to mention Burns. Black is running for the District 25 senate seat now occupied by her Democratic opponent Marsha Arzberger.
Griffin totes the Republican Party line on nearly every issue. So did Condra, but it got him nowhere with voters. Griffin, though, has experience on her side. She served as a state representative in the late 1990s, after which she unsuccessfully ran for the state senate.
The 62-year-old carries a career F rating from environmental groups but maintains high grades from small and independent business organizations.
"Small business is the backbone of this country," Griffin said. "I believe in less government, lower taxes, personal responsibility and in the free enterprise system."
Griffin has raised more than $20,000 during her campaign. Much of it came from property managers, fellow real estate brokers and the Home Builders Association of Central Arizona, which gave Griffin more than $1,500 in September.
Griffin also received hundreds of dollars from co-workers at Sierra Vista Realty, where the candidate has worked for years. The Realtors of Arizona gave Griffin $1,510 in July.
Pima County Democrat Party District 25 Chair Jeff Lawrence insinuated that Griffin has decided to run for office to expand her real estate empire.
Ridiculous, Griffin responded, calling the assertion a "joke and anything but the truth."
She added: "Running for office and holding a state position takes us away from our job as real estate brokers. We actually lose money and contacts from clients by being out of town doing the state and people's business."
The "we" she referred to includes real estate broker Mary Ann Black.Griffin, who recently bought some property near the border, will make stopping illegal immigration a priority, she said. Volunteers, Minutemen, local law enforcement - whatever it takes.
"Legal immigration is good," she said. "Illegal immigration is not good."
Griffin fights for water and property rights, which historically has made her a difficult legislature for local municipalities to deal with on land issues. She opposes Proposition 106, a state land reform measure on the November ballot.
If passed, the proposition would set aside for conservation almost 700,000 acres of state trust land. Griffin and others argue that the land could be used for schools, parks and trails. Those in opposition to the proposition have called it an attempted "big government land grab."
Down with big government, Griffin says. She signed a No New Tax Pledge, something, she notes, that no Democrats in the District 25 race have done.
If elected, Griffin will operate under an open-door policy, regularly holding town hall meetings throughout the district, she said.
"It is important to hear from the people we represent," Griffin said. "It is important to reassure the people in the district that we work for them, not the other way around."