The recall against Tucson Mayor Bob Walkup and two City Council members is all but over. Humberto Lopez, the chairman of the effort, said he will file termination papers in the next few days.
The investor said he got what he wanted out of the bid, maintaining the council is committed to addressing the city's "anti-business climate."
"The mere possibility of it happening was enough to bring about the change that is desperately needed," Lopez said in a prepared statement. His voice mail said he was out of town and unavailable for further comment.
Just before the Wednesday City Council meeting, which started with a discussion about working more closely with business, Walkup said he was pleased to hear the news. "We have big issues facing this community, and now's the time for all of us to get in the same boat and row together to move forward."
Jeff Rogers, the local Democratic Party chairman, said he suspected that Lopez was trying to find a face-saving way out. "The reality is there has been no dramatic change in the council since the recall was announced. It's easy to criticize when the economy is as bad as it is, but how can you blame the City Council for a worldwide recession?"
While the Lopez camp expressed confidence that it could have collected the signatures, other logistical challenges awaited, including getting a team in place to challenge the incumbents in what would be a short campaign. Even if the effort had been successful, whoever replaced Walkup and Regina Romero would have had to run again next year, when their terms expired. The other targeted council member, Karin Uhlich, is up for re-election in 2013, having won last November.
Political science professor Barbara Norrander said she, too, thought the recall drive would have been challenging, with the public also watching the state budget and congressional action on health care and jobs. "Still, there is the notion of agenda setting, which is the idea that just putting something out there and getting people talking about it is the first step in getting changes. It may have had some success in that sense."
Members of the Tucson Tea Party, who had partnered with Lopez, had been making plans to ease Lopez out as chairman and continue the drive with a new leader. Leaders of the group said they were disappointed but would let the issue drop. A recent survey of Tea Party members showed more than 60 percent of respondents felt the recall should not be called off for any reason.
"We're more hard-core about it, so we're disappointed," said organizer Robert Mayer, who added that the group had 3,000 signatures on hand. "Obviously, we don't feel that substantial changes have come about, so of course we'd like to keep it going."
Mayer acknowledged that part of the problem was the unhappy marriage of two very different factions. "We're focused on the grass-roots kind of thing, while he's been hearing from a lot of people who have been around the block for a long time and are perfectly content with the status quo."
Shelby Hawkins, the owner of 5 Star Termite & Pest Control, had just turned in three pages of signatures on Tuesday, only to find the next day that she needed to take the recall sign off her marquees.
The folks who signed the petitions, she said, "were mad. They wanted these people recalled, so they're going to be disappointed. And so am I."
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Contact reporter Rhonda Bodfield at 573-4243 or firstname.lastname@example.org