Out-Of-County Money Fuels Rep. Konopnicki Campaign

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State senate Republican candidate Bill Konopnicki has trounced Republican incumbent Sen. Sylvia Allen in fund-raising for August’s primary, attracting nearly $73,000 since November, mostly from Phoenix-area lawyers and lobbyists, according to campaign finance forms released this week.

Allen has raised just over $19,000 since November. Most of her bankroll came from citizens within her district, many of them working class or retired. However, Allen has outspent her competitor by roughly $2,000 so far this campaign season.

Meanwhile, Democratic challenger and Payson resident Elaine Bohlmeyer has raised $2,300, much of it in $5 contributions, to qualify for Clean Elections, and spent $1,000. Bohlmeyer also received about $14,000 from the Clean Elections Commission, but after the reporting period that ended May 31.

During the Jan. 1 to May 31 reporting period, Allen raised $12,600 — about $3,500 less than Konopnicki. By the end of May, Konopnicki still had $65,000 on hand, while Allen’s coffers fell to just under $10,000.

Since January, Konopnicki has spent $5,300 compared to Allen’s $6,800.

Allen has written herself $1,000 in petty cash checks, spent $3,000 on signs and about $400 on cell phone bills.

Konopnicki spent $2,000 on signs, another $1,500 on flyers and other handouts and about $600 on website design.

Bohlmeyer has spent $600 on fliers, bumper stickers and other handouts.

The two Republicans will face off on the Aug. 24 primary. The winner will challenge Bohlmeyer in November.

The fight to gain independence for Gila Community College has evolved into a major issue locally for this race. Konopnicki and Allen at one point issued dueling press releases, each denouncing the other for impeding progress with the effort.

Allen is now leading a task force designed to win the decade-long fight, and plans to introduce legislation in January to free the college. Konopnicki has flip-flopped, at one point calling the existing college a “miracle,” and later saying the effort needed careful calculation.

Bohlmeyer has said she supports independence.

Konopnicki has for years worked as the district’s representative. However, term limits will end his tenure.

Most of Konopnicki’s contributions come from Phoenix-area attorneys and lobbyists, including $200 from Michael Gardner, the Eastern Arizona College lobbyist also employed by GCC. Gardner’s contract requires him to side with EAC in case of a dispute between the two schools.

Several others from Gardner’s firm, Triadvocates, have donated to Konopnicki’s campaign, as well as two attorneys from Lewis and Roca, which also works with EAC.

Konopnicki had only one contribution from his legislative district. Payson resident Charlie Smith, the vice president of Life Star EMS, donated $410. However, the check was cashed too late and returned. Smith donated the same amount to Allen’s campaign.

In fact, many of the same donors are contributing to both campaigns.

For instance, Lawrence Lucero, manager of public and government affairs for the Tucson Electric Power Company, donated $100 to Allen and $200 to Konopnicki.

Attorney and Scottsdale resident Susan Charlton gave $200 to Allen and $300 to Konopnicki.

Most of Konopnicki’s contributions ranged from $100 to $400, while Allen received a lot of smaller, $20, $50 and even $5 donations. Allen did also receive, however, several larger contributions.

Allen’s contributors are overall more working class. Many are retired. Most live in her district.

A Fed-ex driver from Joseph City donated $100, and a substitute teacher in Snowflake schools gave $25. A farmer from Solomon gave $100, and another farmer from Snowflake donated $25.

Allen also received at least two contributions from Freeport MacMoRan officials.

Allen’s political action committee contributors include Freeport MacMoRan Arizona and the Arizona Medical Association.

Committees donating to Konopnicki include a committee of automotive retailers, Wells Fargo Arizona, Phoenix firefighters and Realtors of Arizona.

Bohlmeyer has not received donations from any political committees.

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