For those who like things "3-ways," like chili, for instance ... there's now a 3-way race for mayor that's going to be hot and spicy.
Perennial candidate and personal trainer Bill Crawford has officially created an exploratory committee that's the first step in pitting himself against incumbent Jim Lane and challenger Bob Littlefield. This is familiar ground for Mayor Lane. In 2012 he ran for re-election against two candidates who split the vote, allowing him to avoid a run-off election and win a second term.
This isn't Crawford's first rodeo. He ran unsuccessfully for the City Council two years ago. But he made his name and reputation going toe-to-toe with the bar and club owners in the Entertainment District. Crawford battled against the loud music, street fights and dangerous traffic conditions. He won some, lost some ... but never knuckled under to the considerable political pressure from those who fought him tooth and nail every step of the way.
Today, the downtown dust-up has simmered down and the bar owners and their neighbors have reached a detente.
More than a year ago Crawford telegraphed his political intentions. When hearing that Littlefield was considering running for mayor in December of 2014, Crawford said he would enter the race if or when Littlefield made it official.
There's no love lost between Crawford and Littlefield. In fact it sounds like Crawford isn't running for mayor as much as he is running against Littlefield.
"I believe Bob represents a party of 'no,'" Crawford told the Scottsdale Independent. "I have seen Bob stand up against everything, but I can't remember him anytime building consensus." That's why, according to Crawford, he's motivated to get into the race.
The question on most people's minds: Which of the two candidates will Crawford's candidacy impact the most - Jim Lane or Bob Littlefield?
The answer depends on whom you talk to. But the real answer may actually depend on how Crawford frames his campaign.
Crawford doesn't have deep support, otherwise by now he would be sitting on the City Council. He does, however, have somewhat wide support. Crawford's core voting block includes many neighborhoods as well as small businesses - especially in South Scottsdale and the downtown area. So he straddles parts of the voter bases of both Littlefield and Lane.
While he has been hostile toward Littlefield, Crawford isn't enamored with Lane, either. Taking a page out of Littlefield's playbook, he is critical about Lane's role in helping create the inundation of apartments and condos and developing the public-private partnership to move the Desert Discovery Center concept forward.
Nonetheless, Crawford isn't shy about skewering Littlefield: "The latest stunt (running for mayor) is the most egregious attempt yet by Bob to further his own personal agenda regardless of what's best for Scottsdale citizens."
So, if Crawford, a colorful campaigner, continues targeting Littlefield during the course of the campaign, does it mean he will "steal" votes that would otherwise go to Littlefield? Or will he attract "anti-Littlefield" votes that would have originally gone to Lane? Or maybe a little bit of both?
No matter how you cut it ... Bill Crawford will be the wildcard who creates political havoc for Jim Lane and Bob Littlefield.