Biggest obstacle may be Kolbe, Graf says

During his visit in Washington this week, Arizona congressional candidate Randy Graf said his biggest challenge could be dodging attacks from Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.), who is retiring this year at the end of his 11th term.

“I didn’t endear myself to him,” Graf said in an interview with The Hill yesterday. “Congressman Kolbe is going to try and play a roll in this — taking his shots when ever he can.”

Graf unsuccessfully challenged Kolbe in the 2004 primary.

Graf is undeterred, and after meeting with representatives from the National Republican Congressional Committee he is further emboldened to make the push toward Washington.

“I’m not going to be a bashful Republican,” he said, expressing that the “party of Reagan” is in desperate need of reform — especially on budgetary issues.

Graf faces several challenges going into the 2006 primary against a wide field of candidates. Since his vocal opposition to loosening immigration restrictions, he is seen by some Republicans as a one-issue candidate — a label he said he is working hard to shed — trying to focus on issues such as health care, tort reform and education instead.

In the Sept. 12, Graf has been endorsed by 25 state legislators and Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.).

Kolbe, who has said Republicans in Washington can do better than Randy Graf, declined to comment.

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