Illegal immigration leads the way in the state's top-10 stories of the year

A list of the top 10 Arizona stories in 2006, as determined by members and staff of The Associated Press

1. Illegal immigration:

In a year that saw thousands leave work and school to protest in the streets and National Guard troops patrolling the Arizona-Mexico border, immigration dominated the state's consciousness. Community groups and Maricopa County officials clashed over an anti-smuggling law that allowed illegal immigrants to be charged with conspiracy. Meanwhile, the November election ballot contained four measures targeted at illegal immigrants.

2. Serial killings:

Fear and paranoia gripped the Phoenix area for months as police dedicated two task forces to tracking down two serial predators. One was the "Baseline Killer" - a suspect in nine homicides and 11 sexual assaults. The second was dubbed the "Serial Shooter," thought to be responsible for fatally shooting seven people and wounding 17. In August, Samuel Dieteman and Dale Hausner were arrested for the serial shootings. In September, Mark Goudeau was arrested for two sexual assaults related to the Baseline Killer crime spree. Three months later, Phoenix police publicly announced that they believe Goudeau was the Baseline Killer and recommended 71 additional charges be filed against him, including nine counts of murder.

3. Napolitano re-election:

Despite her opponent's accusations of being soft on border security and illegal immigration, Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano easily defeated Republican Len Munsil in the November election.

Munsil joined the race after several prominent Republicans opted not to run. Napolitano became the first Arizona Democrat to be re-elected as governor since Bruce Babbitt in 1982.

4. Senate race:

While many GOP incumbents lost their seats in the U.S. Senate, Republican Sen. Jon Kyl was again the choice of Arizona voters. He defeated Democratic challenger Jim Pederson, who spent $10 million of his own shopping mall fortune on the campaign. Pederson painted himself as the protest choice for those unhappy with the war in Iraq.

5. Delta-US Airways:

US Airways made an $8 billion hostile bid in November to take over Delta Air Lines, which has been trying to emerge from bankruptcy and maintain stand-alone status. The move would make US Airways, an airline born of the combination of the original US Airways and America West, the nation's largest carrier.

6. Polygamist leader:

Warren Jeffs, leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted fugitives list, was arrested in August during a traffic stop. The polygamist is now facing trial in Utah on charges of rape as an accomplice for his alleged role in arranging a marriage between a 14-year-old girl and her 19-year-old cousin in Las Vegas. He also faces criminal charges in Arizona for allegedly arranging marriages between men and underage girls.

7. Delegation split:

For the first time in a dozen years, Arizona's eight-member U.S. House delegation will be evenly split by party. In November, Democrats Gabrielle Giffords and Harry Mitchell defeated their Republican challengers in the 8th and 5th congressional districts, respectively. They join Democratic Rep. Ed Pastor and Rep. Raul Grijalva, who both easily won re-election.

8. Brins wildfire:

What started as a transient's campfire quickly turned into a raging June wildfire that charred 4,320 acres and forced the evacuation of hundreds of homes in Oak Creek Canyon outside Sedona. Firefighters worked for 10 days to contain the blaze and successfully kept it from reaching homes.

9. State ballot:

Along with the usual slate of candidates for offices from U.S. Senate down, Arizona's November ballot contained more measures than any other state ballot in 2006. The 19 initiative and referendum measures touched on subjects such as same-sex marriage, monetary voter reward by lottery, no-smoking policy in bars and restaurants and measures aimed at illegal immigrants.

10. Gambling bust:

New Jersey authorities announced in February the bust of a nationwide sports gambling ring that they alleged had been financed by Phoenix Coyotes associate coach Rick Tocchet. Authorities have said the bettors included some current NHL players and actress Janet Jones, the wife of hockey great Wayne Gretzky, the Coyotes head coach.