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Richard Carmona as 2012's Jim Webb Richard Carmona as 2012's Jim Webb

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Richard Carmona as 2012's Jim Webb

Webb's 1979 Washingtonian article titled "Women Can't Fight" was a controversial mark on his past. And as The Fix's Aaron Blake noted, Carmona's personal background -- which includes shooting a mentally-ill man and an often-rocky employment history -- were not helpful during his 2002 confirmation process. Those issues could surface again in the 2012 election. There are differences, too. Webb's stance against the Iraq War was a major part of his 2006 run; the war is not likely to be a major issue in Arizona next year. Like Webb, Carmona has the potential to appeal across party lines: He has been a lifelong independent and as the Arizona Republic points out, both Republican Arizona Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl are on the record praising Carmona during Senate confirmation hearing in 2002. But Democrats in the state acknowledge that his lack of political experience and his relative anonymity within the state Democratic community are question marks. And despite Carmona's high profile national fans, he's not the only candidate running in the Democratic primary. Former state Democratic Party chairman Don Bivens jumped in first. "I think he'll raise a lot of money and fast," said one Arizona GOP operative of Carmona. "Especially as someone handpicked by the president. His real weakness is getting in too late. A few months earlier and Bivens never even gets in. Does Bivens stay in? I sure might with the amount of money he's raised." Bivens had over $284,000 in his campaign account at the end of September, That's not a huge sum, but a respectable one, considering the limited time he had to raise money in the third quarter. He's also secured some Democratic establishment support, having landed the endorsements of former Reps. Harry Mitchell and Ann Kirkpatrick. The booming Hispanic population paired with the events of 2010 -- during which time Gov. Jan Brewer signed SB 1070, the state's controversial immigration legislation -- suggest a substantial opportunity for Democrats to make gains in the red state of Arizona. And a time when several prominent Hispanic Republicans -- from Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., to New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez to Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval -- have seen their national stock rise, we've yet to see a Hispanic Democratic statewide standard-bearer emerge, making the opportunity even more ripe for the former surgeon general. But Carmona could also prove to be bust, and if he is, he'll have some company this cycle. Another highly touted Hispanic Democrat -- Ret. Lt. Gen. Ric Sanchez -- has proven, so far, to be something of a disappointment in Texas, having raised little money as he's remained largely absent from the campaign trail.

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