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 After reviewing my little brother’s business inventory, I didn’t take time to re-pack; I just bundled up everything in my arms and threw it all in the back seat of my car. I started the engine, looked down the street and saw the not so inconspicuous car of plain clothes officers watching my house and realized I had forgotten something.  Two minutes later I drove away and pulled in behind The Bombaro bar and heaved the bricks of marijuana into the dumpster.

 That night, about 2 a.m. my baby brother found me at a friend’s house on the other side of town and wanted to say, Hi with a ballpeen hammer. In some drug induced insanity he came at me brandishing the hammer and stammering about his young daughter’s welfare.  She had just turned three and was to be the beneficiary of his drug sales. I got him to drop the hammer and then let him swing away at me. Finally, he hit me square in the mouth, popping off two caps on my teeth and saying, “This is going to be a lot easier than I thought it would be.” Realizing he really intended to hurt me, I ended it.

 The campaign stubbled on and re-election was in serious doubt, not because the Republicans were aware of much of this netherworld I had come to live in, but because they had cleverly chosen a candidate who had both the industry and ethics of a Praying Mantis in heat. The candidate they had chosen had the same name as, and was a close relative of, a popular and very well-known Phoenix Democrat named John Haldiman. Joe Haldiman, the candidate, was making good use of it and a half-hearted effort to walk the streets as I did.

 I had heard stories about what he was saying at each door but thought them so absurd as not to be believed.  Then with a bit of good fortune, I was going door-to-door one afternoon and saw him turn the corner.  I ducked behind a bush to watch.  As he made his way down the street, I saw him walk up to the door of Fay Weidman, one of my campaign volunteers who I had nicknamed Mother Superior for her penchant to dress me, feed me, and protect me in all that I did.  I quietly made my way up behind him with my index finger across my lips so that Mother Superior would know not to give me up.

 His pitch went something like this: “Hi, I am Joe Haldiman running for the State Senate and I wanted to talk to you about Richard Kimball, that embarrassing bum currently representing us. You must have heard by now that he is a baby killing abortionist, that he never graduated from college, that he is a pawn of labor, and is lying when he says he was born in Arizona.  He moved here from Illinois with the backing of their unions. We need to send him packing. That is why I agreed to run for this office.”  I looked over his shoulder at Mother Superior. The demonic expression now roasting on her face forced me to intercede, less she add to the mounting pile of shit that my life had become.

  “Hi, Fay,” as I put my arm around Haldiman’s shoulder, “This is my good buddy, Joe.”

 Election Day was getting close, and they still hadn’t found the assassin who had threatened the President and me. His wife, who had become a good friend, and I were still in hiding. Then for some inexplicable reason Broom walked right into the Democratic Party Headquarters as if it were just another day on the job. Everyone had been given an emergency number on the unexpected chance that he might appear.  I happened to already be on my way there for a meeting but wasn’t as quick as the various forces looking for him. When I arrived, Broom was sequestered in a back room surrounded by a couple of Secret Service Agents and the local police.  After an hour or so an agent came out and I asked if I might see Broom alone for a minute. The agent, thinking me naive, said that it wasn’t a very good idea.  “Listen,” I said, “He was my trusted friend, he is not armed and if I just have a minute, I might find out some things that would be helpful to all of us.”  Surprisingly, they agreed, which instantly suggested that they were far more interested in protecting Jimmy Carter than they were me.

 As I entered the room, Broom was sitting in a lone metal fold-up chair with the four or five officers standing around. The agent said, let’s give Senator Kimball a minute and they all walked out and stood just beyond the door, which they left ajar.

 Broom, who was not scared, sad, worried, or flustered in any way, just sat and stared at me. I went over to a stack of folded cafeteria chairs and set one up right in front of him and sat down. ”Broom, what is going on, this is absurd,” I pleaded. His expression did not change. He said not a word, just sat comfortably and looked at me. “Listen, do you want me to get you a lawyer, or some counseling? I know some good people, some good programs where we can get you some help. Whatever you need, I can help. Just talk to me.”  Broom Hall’s eyes had never left mine; he just looked a bit burdened but resigned.  Then he leaned forward a little and in a soft perfectly calm voice said something that you do not hear every day but was definitely a talk ender. “I am sorry Richard, but I must kill you. I have been ordered to kill you.”

 The officers came back in and although the authorities could never get enough evidence to imprison Broom, I never saw him again. I would on occasion worry about where he was and if I would get another early vote in the mail.

 Three days before the election, which was becoming an acknowledged loser for me, I was spent and went straight to bed in spite of an unsettling phone call from someone claiming to be one of my supporters.  He spoke so loudly and angrily that I had no difficulty making out these words. “What a lousy bastard you are.  You lied to me and everyone else.” He then hung up.  I took the phone off the hook and slept.  At first light I was up and walked outside to get the paper, only this time I found it amongst a half dozen of my yard signs that were broken or ripped and strewn on the lawn. Scribbled on the back of one, “I thought you were a decent man. You’re scum.”

 I went back inside and put the phone on the hook, it immediately rang, “Did you see what Haldiman did?” a campaign volunteer bellowed.

 As it turns out the opposition had mailed a hit piece to every household in my district saying essentially what I had heard candidate Haldiman say to Mother Superior at her door, only with emphasis on the “fact” of my having moved to Arizona from Illinois with a bundle of labor money.  There was one important difference: this time it lacked crudeness. It was done professionally, in a polished convincing way that had clearly been drafted by the best the opposition could hire.

 The campaign was over; even some of my volunteers were calling to ask if the hit piece was true. We called the Arizona Republic demanding that they correct the lie by doing a story. But that same editor who was later caught masquerading as a highly decorated warrior refused.

 My campaign was broken, and I was broken in just about every way I could be broken. But even if we had the money there was no way we could create a response, mail it, and have the Post Office deliver it to everyone’s door before Election Day.

 With all good hit pieces there is usually a grain of truth somewhere to lock in its bite.  In this case, it was the backing by labor charge.  The local fire fighter’s union was one of my strong supporters and the opposition was about to find out just how strong.  Turns out, they can put out more than one kind of fire.

 Down the street from my home, Pat Cantelme, President of the Phoenix Firefighter’s union owned that firefighters’ hangout called The Bombaro.  By 2 a. m. the night after the hit piece arrived at homes all over my district, I had become the best customer The Bombaro had that day.   I was tired, resigned to my election defeat and well into my bottomless glass of scotch.  Pat leaned over the bar and said, “You know, Richard, we don’t need no stinking postage stamps, if you can think of a way to respond I will have every firefighter in this city and most of the policeman turned into Postmen by the time the sun comes up.

  By 3 a. m. I had my idea.  It would be a wild crazy shot into the dark. I was about to wake up a person I had never met in the middle of the night.  I pulled the phone over and asked for a phone book.  Luckily, unlike most insurance company presidents, particularly wealthy, prominent, honest ones, John Haldiman, the patriarch of the Haldiman family had his number listed.

 I dialed, a women’s sleepy voice answered. She was clearly concerned as anyone would be from a call in the middle of the night and said, “Who the Hell is this?” I told her I was so sorry to wake her but that it was an emergency and I just had to talk to her husband.

 The next few hours ended candidate Joe Haldiman’s hopes of taking over my seat in the Senate and any future in politics.

 Not only did the prominent, honest Haldiman support me, but he thought less of his namesake relative than most people do of maggots. I told him what had happened.  By my third or fourth sentence he interrupted me, “Be at my house by 4:30,” and hung up.

 I arrived a few minutes early amongst a stream of other cars.  He had essentially ordered every Haldiman in Phoenix, a very large group as it turns out, to wake up, get out of bed, get dressed and come to his house – NOW!

 By 5:15 am I was at one of my brother Bill’s shops. He had yanked himself out of bed, ready to go to war. As fate would have it his shops were printing shops and they were up and ready to run. I handed him a card and he was off and at it, saving my ass, just as he did back when we were kids.  By 7 am firefighters getting off duty from throughout the city started showing up and taking out crates of brightly colored yellow cards, all of which would somehow manage to be delivered to every door in my district before supper time.

  Although I no longer have a copy, something I have kicked myself for years over, the card essentially read:


 All of us in the Haldiman family strongly endorse the re-election of Senator Richard Kimball. He has been an honest, strong, and honorable Senator.

 We also want you to know that we are embarrassed over the outrageous behavior of Joe Haldiman, a member of our family who has lied to you and has dishonorably and dishonestly attacked Senator Kimball with a series of vicious lies.

 Please re-elect Richard Kimball a good and decent man to the Arizona State Senate!

                A dozen signatures splashed over the card.

                All with the last name of Haldiman.

 Some years later I heard that candidate Haldiman unsuccessfully tried a second career in fraud and ended up with a number tattooed to a prison shirt.


 Somewhere in the Twilight Zone there was a Gary Marston, a one, maybe two-day long Kimball for Senate Campaign Manager, hired either just before or just after Broom.

 It was a sweet elderly woman that came to me at a barbecue I held at my home for volunteers. She said, “I feel funny and am not sure I am well.”

 Turned out that Gary thought it a good idea if one of the side deserts was marijuana brownies. Of all that happened those miserable months, it was Gary I most wanted to kill.

 I do not think I have given my experiences in the Twilight Zone justice, but it is the best I could do.  To Carole, my first wife, I weep to this day. To the rest of you that may be offended by my recollections, go frig yourselves!

(New chapters will be added roughly once a week)

Richard Kimball, Vote Smart Founder

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