Openly gay U.S. representative Jim Kolbe, the senior House member from Arizona, cruised to the nomination for an 11th term in Tuesday's Republican primary, easily turning aside a challenge from state representative Randy Graf. With 99% of the eighth congressional district's precincts reporting, Kolbe led Graf 57% to 43%. "We do have some satisfaction in winning by this margin," Kolbe said in claiming victory. He said it reaffirmed his contention that voters "want practical solutions to problems," including a guest worker program to help solve the problems of illegal immigration besetting the state's border region. "The message that I've heard is that people are frustrated, and I understand that," Kolbe said.
On the strength of balloting in Pima County, which has the bulk of the district's voters, Kolbe didn't have to worry even though Graf, a conservative legislator from Green Valley, polled well in rural Cochise County. Graf had posed the most serious party challenge for Kolbe in more than a decade. On the Democratic ballot, retired assistant attorney general Eva Bacal hammered opponents Tim Sultan, a former aide to Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and Jeffrey Chimene, a computer consultant, in winning her party's nomination to take on Kolbe in November.