National Republican leaders are recruiting Vice Adm. Richard Carmona, surgeon general of the United States, to cut off a congressional bid in a closely contested Arizona district by a foe of President Bush's immigration policies.
The Tucson district was put up for grabs when moderate Republican Rep. Jim Kolbe announced recently he would not seek a 12th term. The leading Republican candidate has been former State Rep. Randy Graf, who in 2004 took 43 percent of the primary vote while spending only $90,000 by advocating a hard-line immigration policy.
Kolbe is not expected to support Graf if he is nominated in an evenly balanced district that Bush carried with 53 percent. Dr. Wayne Peate, a fellow physician and friend of Carmona, filed his candidacy Monday and raised speculation that Carmona will not run.
A bipartisan guest worker proposal being worked on in the Western Governors' Association (WGA) promises to expose further the split over immigration in both political parties, but particularly among Republicans.
Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, a Democrat, and Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, a Republican, are working on the WGA proposal. In addition to the guest worker initiative, the proposal is expected to include increased border enforcement and reimbursements to states of expenses resulting from illegal immigration.
This Napolitano-Huntsman plan, if finished in time, will be presented at the WGA's annual Washington breakfast late in February. It would immediately be attacked by Republican immigration hard-liners in Congress.