As most Arizonans know by now, or at least the ones who have watched TV, opened their mailbox or answered the door over the last month, Arizona's primary election is Tuesday.
In many regards, this election will be more important than the general election in November because many of the races will be decided in the primary (safe districts, uncontested general election races, etc.).
As such, some of the most interesting races will be decided Tuesday.
A sampling, with brief commentary about a few -
Federal races first -
R US Senate - The big names are Jeff Flake (current US Congressman) and Wil Cardon (deep-pocketed businessman). It looks as if Flake will win this one by a comfortable margin, as the Cardon camp tried to run against Flake from the right...only to find out that there just isn't much room to work with there.
D CD1 - Candidates Ann Kirkpatrick (former member of Congress) and Wenona Benally Baldenegro (attorney and community activist) have been running a classic big money (Kirkpatrick) vs. grassroots (Baldenegro) campaign. Expectations seem to be that Kirkpatrick will win. Either way, the winner here will go on to face the winner of...
R CD1 - Where the candidates include Jonathan "Payday" Paton (former AZ legislator), Gaither Martin (a contractor for the Defense Department, rodeo guy, interned with former Congressman JD Hayworth), and Patrick Gatti (retired businessman). There was a fourth candidate, Douglas Wade, but he ran out of money and withdrew from the race, endorsing Martin on his way out the door. Paton has the highest name recognition in the race, but he is also the carpetbagger in the race (he actually lives near Tucson). If he wins the primary race, he's going to have an uphill battle against either Kirkpatrick or Baldenegro.
R CD4 - Candidates Ron Gould (current state senator), Rick Murphy (businessman from Lake Havasu City) and Paul Gosar (current member of Congress, in another district), are on the ballot, but the real race is between Gould and Gosar. It's been a battle of PACs as well as candidates, as the dentists' PAC has been spending thousands of dollars on behalf of one of its own (Gosar) as the Club for Growth has spent thousands on behalf of Gould.
R CD5 - The race is between former Congressman Matt Salmon and former state representative (and speaker of the Arizona House) Kirk Adams. Salmon started off very strong in both fundraising and endorsements, and while he hasn't exactly dropped off of the table, he didn't put away Adams early. Adams has pulled, if not even, into the same ballpark as Salmon in terms of fundraising, and he has racked up same big-name endorsements. The biggest of those is Jeff Flake, whose current Congressional district 6 covers much the same territory as the new district 5. In addition, Adams has some kind of event scheduled for Monday afternoon with former VP candidate and current media personality Sarah Palin. It may turn out to be a desperate, last gasp kind of effort, but it also indicates that the Adams campaign (and Palin) think that they are close enough for such an effort to make a difference.
R CD6 - Freshman Congressmen David Schweikert and Ben Quayle are slicing each other to ribbons for the same district (it's a rather safe one for Rs). The candidates alone have spent close to $3 million on just the primary, and PACs and IE (Independent Expenditure) expenditures add hundreds of thousand more to that total. This one has been bloody and it may not let up even after the polls close on Tuesday.
D CD9 - Another rough one. Not as rough as the Rs in CDs 6 or 4, but still plenty of bruised friendships. Candidates David Schapira (current Democratic leader in the AZ state senate), Kyrsten Sinema (former legislator) and Andrei Cherny (former chair of the AZ Democratic Party) have been fighting it out for the nomination in this district, probably the most competitive in Arizona. Things have gotten very negative, with pro-Sinema and pro-Cherny PACs weighing in with a seemingly never-ending stream of attack mail pieces and robocalls. The attacks are usually misrepresentations or outright lies. Right now it looks like it is going to come down to Schapira and Sinema, with Cherny a close but definite third. However, all three campaigns have their GOTV efforts fully up to speed this weekend. Whoever wins the primary will be nicked up, but will immediately be the favorite in the general election.
R CD9 - Not as rough as the Ds in CD9, but that's as much about money (or the lack thereof) as it is about temperment. There are seven candidates - Vernon Parker, Travis Grantham, Lisa Borowsky, Wendy Rogers, Leah Campos Schandlbauer, Martin Sepulveda, and Jeff Thompson. Parker has the highest name ID (currently on the town council in Paradise Valley and a former candidate for Congress in the old CD3), Borowsky has the best signs (four color, full bleed, etc.), Travis Grantham has a lot of outside support (for some reason, an out-of-state PAC that is supporting Schweikert in CD6 is supporting Grantham, who never held or even run for office as far as I can tell), and Sepulveda may have the best story (veteran, seventh-generation Arizonan, former Chandler City Council member, etc.; in most states he'd be a virtual lock. However, in AZ he is Latino and running in an R primary. If there is a way for him to come in eighth in a seven-way primary, the Russell Pearce wing of his party will find a way to make it happen). This race is so low profile and so low money, it's hard to get a read on it. However, CD9 is truly competitive, so whichever candidate gets through the primary will have a real chance against the bloodied D nominee.
State legislative races -
R LD16 Senate - A fight between two members of the lege. Current State Sen. Rich Crandall moved into this district to avoid a primary fight with Russell Pearce. By doing so, however, he set up a primary fight with State Rep. John Fillmore, a Pearce ally who has turned into a bit of a Pearce proxy. This one has turned into an intramural spitting match between two of the wings of the Republican party, with the business and establishment types favoring Crandall and the tea party/nativist types favoring Fillmore.
R LD25 Senate - The R primary in LD16 is the undercard to this one, the main event. The aforementioned Pearce, recalled last year, is looking for a return to the Senate this year. He is facing businessman and political newcomer Bob Worsley. It's the LD16 race on steroids, and according to the analyses/guesses of the pundits on KAET's Horizon on Friday, it may be the last gasp of the Pearce machine. We'll see Tuesday, but I hope they're right.
D LD24 Senate - Katie Hobbs (current state rep.) and Ken Cheuvront (former state senator) are facing off in this one. While this one has gotten personal, the candidates trading barbs are Cheuvront and Chad Campbell, the Democratic leader in the AZ House, who is running for...a return to the House. ??? Anyway, Cheuvront has a little more money than Hobbs, but his campaign has all but ignored the active Democrats in the district, and given that we are talking about a *Democratic* primary....
D LD30 Senate - Candidates Robert Meza (current state senator) and Raquel Teran (community activist) are facing off here. This one has also gotten a little rough - Teran may be a newcomer to being a candidate, but Meza is not well-thought-of in the district. There have been charges and counter-charges flying here.
R LD1 House - The candidates are Andy Tobin (currently Speaker of the AZ House), Karen Fann (current House member), and Lori Klein (current Senate member). This is a race brought about by redistricting. The new LD is centered around Prescott in Yavapai County (home turf of Fann and Tobin) but extends down to Anthem in Maricopa County (home of Klein). With the new district maps, Klein and Senate President Steve Pierce ended up in the same district, and not wanting to face an electoral buzzsaw, Klein chose to take a chance on a move to the House. Even though two of the three will move on, Klein has decided to go after Tobin hard, even to the point of bringing in failed presidential candidate Herman Cain on her side. Don't know much about Fann, but Tobin is a nasty piece of work. For instance, he was a big part of the R effort to hijack/intimidate the redistricting commission last year.
Which still makes him better than Klein, who is just plain bat-shit crazy. She's packed heat to a state of the state address, on the floor of the House, read a hate- and nativist stereotype-filled letter on the floor of the Senate, pointed a loaded pistol at a reporter (she didn' mean no harm; she just wanted to show off the purrty li'l pink pistol with the purrty li'l laser sight), and for good measure, tried to get a bill passed that would have barred her HOA from telling her that she has to keep her dog leashed.
All in a single term in the Senate.
I'd say the home field advantage favors Tobin and Fann, but enough money could push Klein into contention.
R LD23 House - Another three-way race for two seats, much like LD1. However, instead of a race between two ultra-conservative candidates and one crazy candidate, this one involves two crazy conservative ones and one that is conservative but not-so crazy. The two incumbents, John Kavanagh and Michelle Ugenti are favorites of the tea party-types and other nativists. The third candidate is Jennifer Petersen. She has been a member of the Scottsdale school board for a long time and is known as "pragmatic", which has been the kiss of death in R primaries over the last few election cycles.
Other races to watch -
R Maricopa County Supervisor District 2 - The candidates are Lester Pearce (former Justice of the Peace, and brother of Russell Pearce) and Steve Chucri (businessman) and, paired with the R LD25 Senate primary, is shaping up as the potential end of the Pearce political machine. Watch the numbers on this one. If Pearce wins, it will be close, but a Chucri win could be a blowout.
R Navajo County Supervisor District 3 - The candidates are Tom Poscharsky and Sylvia Allen. Allen is a current state senator and strong Pearce ally. Not sure of anything about this race but it is worth keeping an eye on come Tuesday night.
R Pinal County Sheriff - The candidates are Paul Babeu (incumbent sheriff), Tom Bearup, Derek Arnson, and Jack McClaren. Don't know much about the other candidates, but Babeu stepped in it earlier this year when allegations broke that he threatened to use his influence to have an ex-boyfriend deported. There were also reports of improper professional conduct in the Pinal County Sheriff's Office.
However, those reports have no bearing on the large number of candidates entered in the primary against a sitting incumbent - politically, Babeu is a younger version of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
However, that "boyfriend" thing is a serious problem in R circles. It derailed Babeu's bid for Congress and led to a number of other Rs to mull challenging him for the sheriff's spot. However, the number of candidates may actually help Babeu by splitting the anti-Babeu vote, allowing him to gain a plurality.
On Tuesday night, get your popcorn ready early and often - it's going to be a long night.