Republicans are taking a gamble that heavily Democratic District 28 could swing their way as two independents jump into the state Senate race, perhaps siphoning votes from incumbent Paula Aboud.

Aboud, a former teacher elected in 2006, is facing former lawmaker Ted Downing, who left the Democratic Party to run as independent; and Dave Ewoldt, a former Green Party activist now running as an independent, as well as Republican Greg Krino.

Krino, a former Air Force pilot, is betting a growing number of independent voters make the race far from a sure thing for the incumbent. He carries an endorsement from Mesa Sen. Russell Pearce, who was the author of the state's controversial new immigration law, although Krino has taken pains to tell voters he's a social moderate while fiscally conservative.

Aboud says Arizona's failing economy is linked to the state's abysmal education system, for which she blames Republicans. She calls for more investments in public education and the university system, saying she will raise the revenue by working with moderate Republicans to eliminate as much as $10 billion in tax exemptions, often characterized as "loopholes" for the corporations and the super-wealthy.

Downing, a UA professor, says his status as a nonpartisan will enable him to vote alongside both Republicans and Democrats in the Legislature. He is a proponent of a nonpartisan primary, similar to a school board, in which candidates run without a party designation.

"The two parties are as much an interest group as unions," he said. "They have wired the system against independents." [CORRECTION OCT. 15, 2010: In "GOP hopes independents siphon votes" on A4 Thursday, District 28 state Senate candidate Ted Downing said he believes both major political parties are interest groups in the same way as unions and corporations. The story may have implied he was especially critical of unions.]

Downing says his status as an independent will enable him to facilitate cooperation between partisans to fix the state's biggest problem, the economy. He says he will work with the state's congressional delegation to bring much-needed federal tax dollars to the state, noting Arizona brings back relatively little in federal tax dollars compared with neighboring states.

Krino, a law school graduate who just passed the bar exam, bases his economic platform on a simple tax code that incorporates a flat tax for individuals and businesses. He defends spending cuts as a way to avoid further damage as the economy continues to struggle to get back on track.

He says public safety, water and transportation should be given priority above education when it comes to state funding.

A competitive, free-market model for public schools will help the system to get back on track, he said.

Ewoldt, meanwhile, bases his platform on a system of sustainability that makes protecting the environment and safeguarding natural resources a priority. Ewoldt criticizes state lawmakers for giving away billions in tax breaks for corporations and special interests that ship jobs out of state.

He has said Arizona's future lies in funding education, health care and sustainable industry.

Paula Aboud

Party: Democrat

Age: 60

Occupation: Retired

Education: B.A., English, University of Arizona

Past elected public offices: State senator, 2006-present

Civic activities: Mediator, Our Town Family Services; member/chair, Richland Heights West Neighborhood; member/co-chair, Southern Arizona Stonewall Democrats

Top endorsements: Arizona Education Association, Professional Fire Fighters of Arizona

Top priority: Working together to balance our budget humanely, wisely and equitably.

Web address: www.paulaaboud.com

Ted Downing

Party: Independent, nonpartisan

Age: 67

Occupation: Professor at University of Arizona

Education: Ph.D., anthropology, Stanford University

Past elected public offices: State representative

Civic activities: Board member-ORANGE (Organized Residents Against Needless Government Encroachment); past president, American Association of University Professors, Arizona Chapter; past president, Richland Heights West Neighborhood Association

Endorsements: None listed

Top priority: Cut back partisan bickering to focus on good jobs, jobs, jobs.

Web address: www.votedowning.com

Dave Ewoldt

Party: Independent

Age: 56

Occupation: Executive director of Natural System Solutions

Education: A.D.D. in eco-psychology, Institute of Global Education

Past elected public offices: None

Civic activities: Blenman-Elm Neighborhood Association board; co-founder, nonprofit Transition Pima; public speaker on transitioning to a sustainable future

Endorsements: California Nurses Association/National Nurses Union; Dr. Paul Green, executive director of the Tucson Audubon Society

Top priority: Provide education, jobs and water necessary for a sustainable future.

Greg Krino

Party: Republican

Age: 35

Occupation: Lawyer, member of the Air National Guard

Education: J.D., University of Arizona

Past elected public offices: None

Civic activities: Volunteer for an environmental-consulting firm

Endorsements: Former Rep. Jim Kolbe, Councilman Steve Kozachik, Supervisor Ray Carroll

Top priority: To create a predictable tax code that attracts jobs to Arizona.

Web address: gregkrino2010.com

Will Ferguson is a University of Arizona journalism student apprenticing at the Star. Contact him at 573-4142 or at starapprentice@azstarnet.com