TUCSON -- US Rep. Jim Kolbe said Wednesday he won't seek re-election in 06. This is good news. This blogger and many others have been pushing for Rep. Kolbe to retire.
He recently supported gutting the Endangered Species Act by voting for the Pombo TESRA bill, and is a WTO/NAFTA-style free trade pusher. Kolbe is the only openly gay republican in congress.
Now that he is out, watch for this to be a wide open, hotly contested race.
The GOP may field a right-wing candidate like Randy Graf. At least three dems are already seeking the seat. But it could best be won by a progressive, ethical and smart independent. So far, none has stepped up. I don't live in Kolbe's district.
Moderate Republican Pima Supervisor Ray Carroll would also have a good shot if he runs, and could win my support. But Ray already has an important influential position, and if he considers it closely, he may not want to go to DC. He could get more done in Tucson.
Gabrielle Giffords, a dem State Senator, would also make a fine and tough candidate. She says she's in. I may also support her. She is a smart and talented young leader.
Already in the race are political newbies Jeff Latas and Francine Shacter.
Pay attention to this race over the next year. It should be a good one.