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Wes Hargis

It wasn’t the intent, but the Tucson Metro Chamber shined the light on the election-time quandary faced by business leaders when it held its special press conference to “address the misinformed statements released by Congressman Barber” over the proposed Rosemont Copper mine.

So Rep. Ron Barber appears to have joined others in doing what they can to try to block the mine despite the fact that it is the biggest single game-changer to stimulating the economy of the Tucson region.

How does that translate into next Tuesday’s election? In this particular case, is it better for business if Republican Martha McSally gets elected?

The chamber stopped short of offering any help there. It didn’t endorse either Barber or McSally.

This all points to a huge issue for business leaders at election time.

For the past four weeks, Inside Tucson Business set out to endorse candidates and ballot propositions based on their potential impacts for the betterment of business and the economy in the Tucson region. We called it “clout” in our recommendations for candidates running for Congress and Legislature.

It does no good to elect a candidate of a particular political party if that person can’t get heard within the legislative body. Likewise, it doesn’t help Southern Arizona if a representative from the majority routinely follows the party agenda without regard to the sometimes unique needs of this region.

Complicating matters is the fact that business leaders must work with whomever gets elected, despite disagreements over an issue or two.

Precisely that point came up as Inside Tucson Business queried business leaders in regards to several races. One example is the race between Republican Ally Miller and Democrat Nancy Young Wright to fill the seat on the Pima County Board of Supervisors being vacated by Ann Day, who is retiring.

The district that currently covers the Catalina Foothills and northwest side including Casas Adobes, Oro Valley and Marana has been represented by a Republican since 1976. But people we’ve talked with are suggesting this could be the year to change that. Miller, who beat back three candidates with close alliances to businesses in the Republican primary, is closely associated with the Tea Party movement which hasn’t exactly been supportive of business concerns.

Democrat Young Wright is portraying herself as the candidate for moderate Republicans.

Electing Young Wright would virtually guarantee the Board of Supervisors majority would remain Democratic since incumbents Ramón Valadez and Richard Elías are facing nominal challenges from Republicans.

In the only other competitive supervisorial race, incumbent Democrat Sharon Bronson is getting some business support but otherwise businesses are remaining remarkably quiet about Republican challenger Tanner Bell. (The Tucson Metro Chamber made no endorsement in the race.)

Bringing this full circle, electing Young Wright would also further solidify the Board of Supervisors’ opposition to the Rosemont mine.

It’s interesting that when we raised that point, a couple of business leaders told us they were taking the attitude that the mine will happen. Despite the county’s efforts, it will not ultimately be able to stop development of the mine.

In the meantime, they say they fear that Miller will be an obstructionist on the Board of Supervisors and that Young Wright would make a better supervisor overall.

As for the Barber-McSally race, we at Inside Tucson Business — unlike the chamber — found a reason to endorse McSally and not Barber, who is a career bureaucrat with no long-term future as a representative for Southern Arizona. Not only does business not benefit from his being in Congress, the Tucson region loses out on getting clout by not developing a seniority representative.

How to vote? That is the dilemma.