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More On Kolbe and Bee’s Parting of Ways

Jim Burroway

July 10th, 2008

Former US Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) still isn’t directly saying why he has withdrawn his support for Arizona State Senate President Tim Bee’s run for Kolbe’s old Congressional seat. But what he’s not saying is leaving little doubt about the reasons.

Last week, Kolbe announced that he would no longer serve as Bee’s honorary chairman. That announcement came just a few days after Bee’s crucial sixteenth vote to place the anti-marriage amendment again on the ballot. A similar effort was rejected by Arizona voters in 2006.

While Kolbe isn’t talking about his decision, that’s not keeping others from talking. Mark Kimble, writing for today’s Tucson Citizen, describes Kolbe’s reversal as “a stunning six-month turnaround”:

On Jan. 19, Kolbe stood at Bee’s side as Bee announced he would run against Democratic incumbent Gabrielle Giffords for the U.S. House in District 8 – a seat that Kolbe held until he retired in 2006. When Bee stressed his commitment to bipartisanship, Kolbe told reporters, “That’s what we need in Washington.”

Kolbe’s support went beyond that. Just last month, Kolbe opened his Washington, D.C., townhome to host a fundraiser for Bee. And now Kolbe is out, with neither man saying why.

Kimble reports that Kolbe remained circumspect in a telephone interview. When asked why he withdrew, Kolbe said he would “not have a long, protracted discussion” about it. But when asked directly whether he still supported Bee, Kolbe demurred, saying, “I’m not going to get into playing that game.”

You know, if Kolbe still supported Bee in the general, non-endorsing, “I hope we can change the seat to a Republican seat” kind of way, that would not be difficult to say. But Kolbe didn’t even offer that minimal support.

But if that’s not clear enough, there’s this: When Bee was asked why Kolbe withdrew his support, Bee said, “Jim has some personal things going on now that he needs to focus on.” What are those “personal things”? Illness? Death in the family? Catching up on All My Children episodes? He wouldn’t say. But whatever they are, they aren’t keeping Kolbe from hosting a fundraiser tomorrow for state Rep, Pete Hershberger (R-Tucson), who is running for the state Senate.

Why Hershberger and not Bee? Maybe it’s because Hershberger was one of only two state House Republicans who voted against the anti-marriage amendment last May.

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