Monday, September 01, 2014

Race for the AZ Legislature: a general election primer

While the races for Arizona's statewide offices garner the most attention, both from the MSM and the general public, the race for the control of the state legislature is at least as important - this state has a "weak executive" form of government where most of the real power rests with the legislature.  Statewide office holders run their areas of the state government, and the governor can act as a bit of a check on the legislature by utilizing the veto, but if the majority of the lege wants it, the state government works *against* the people of Arizona, not *for* us.

The chambers of the Arizona legislature are comfortably under the control of of the Republicans (Senate: 13 Ds, 17 Rs; House: 24 Ds, 36 Rs).  Some observers believe that the Democrats will gain control, or at least 15/15 parity in the Senate this year and gain ground in the House.

I don't believe gaining control of the Senate is going to happen for the Democrats, this year anyway, but gaining ground in both chambers is possible.

Too many things would have go right for the Ds for Senate control to change this year, but with a little luck and a lot of hard work, things will improve this year.

The races for the legislature are set.  Most are over (no challenger) or unofficially over (challenger(s) present but the particular district is so slanted in terms of partisan registration or electoral history that minority party candidates aren't viable).

However, a few merit interest.

- The race for the state senate seat in LD6.

The Republican incumbent, Chester Crandell, was not being challenged by a Democratic candidate.

However, an Independent candidate, former legislator (and former Republican) Tom O'Halleran will be on the ballot in November.

The race was going to be interesting no matter what, but then Crandell passed away suddenly in August.

O'Halleran will now face Sylvia Allen.  Allen was selected by LD6's Republican PCs to replace Crandell on the ballot.  Allen is a former legislator with a long record of outlandish statements and controversy.

This race will become the most-watched legislative race in Arizona - Andy Biggs' senate presidency may depend on the outcome.

His hold on the R caucus is so tenuous that the mere loss of one vote within the caucus, even if it doesn't become a Democratic vote, could cost him the office.

As such, expected a *lot* of IE and PAC (aka - "dark") money to pour into this race supporting Allen.

- LD8 State Senate - Democrat Barbara McGuire holds the seat now and the Democrats have a slight registration advantage.  However, turnout/results is a different issue, as the district currently sends two Republicans to the state house.

This is the senate seat that most concerns the Democrats.

- LD9 State House - Republican Ethan Orr holds one of the seats in this Democratic leaning district, and his schizophrenic voting record reflects a desire to show the voters of his district that he's a "moderate" while proving to his caucus mates that he's anything but.  Democrat Randall Friese may be able to pick up this seat.

- LD28 House - Democrat Eric Meyer is one of the incumbents in this Republican-leaning district.  His seat is always vulnerable, but he has held on to it, in part, by campaigning his ass off.  This time around, the Republicans have nominated Shawnna Bolick, wife of Goldwater Institute bigwig Clint Bolick, in an attempt to wrangle the seat away from him.  She will have lots of money behind her, but it remains to be seen if her ties to GI will help or hinder her efforts.

- LD26 Senate - Currently held by Democrat Ed Ableser.  While the district is not overwhelmingly Democrat in terms of registration, in terms of results, it is.  The area hasn't elected a Republican since 2004, when (most of) it was still LD17.  So the Rs have gotten cute here.

Their candidates are running as "we're not really Republicans" Republicans.  Their sole House candidate has taken to putting up signs that have his partisan affiliation crossed out and replaced by "Arizonan".  Their Senate candidate is running as an Independent (to be fair, it may be because he believes that Arizona Republicans are too liberal).  The most noteworthy aspect of his campaign it that he has signs that are so sturdy that if they were any more permanent, they may fall under commercial sign codes, not political sign codes.

- LD18 Senate and House - Registration here says this is a "red" district, but recent results say it is "purple" (see 2012 presidential election results).  Democrats Janie Hydrick (Senate) and Mitzi Epstein (House) have an uphill battle here but a very real chance of taking not just one of the district's three legislative seats here, but *two*.

- LD23 Senate - an "open" seat, but the R candidate here, John Kavanagh, is a sitting legislator looking to move across the quad at the state capitol.  Registration numbers and electoral track record show that this is an overwhelmingly Republican district.  However, Kavanagh may be too extreme for the chamber of commerce types that dominate the Republican electorate in this fairly affluent district and the Democratic candidate, Paula Pennypacker, is a businesswoman and a former Republican who may be more palatable to them.  Not predicting an upset here, but if I was a betting man, this would be one that I would consider making a "long shot" bet on.


The Senate breakdown will be 14 Ds, 16 Rs, with Andy Biggs losing his job as Senate President.

The House breakdown will be 26 Ds, 34 Rs, with someone other than Andy Tobin in the Speaker's chair (that part of the prediction is safe, because Tobin is termed out and not running for reelection to the House).

Best case (IMO): Senate 14-15-1; House 28-32

Worst case (IMO): Senate 12-18; House 23-37

A quick and not particularly comprehensive look at the state's legislative races:

Keys to the information below:

LD(x) = Legislative district
R: = Republican candidate
D: = Democratic candidate
"R +..." or "D + ..." a number indicates the voter registration leader in that district, based on the major parties' relative registration numbers (for example, a voter registration breakdown of 40% party A, 35% Independents, and 25% party B would be shown as "A + 15%"; interestingly, in every district, voters registered as "Other", Arizona's word for Independents, come in as the first or second place group in terms of registration figures)

* = incumbent
** = current legislator who is a candidate for the other chamber

"Summary" meanings:
- over = no major party challenger
- all over but the shouting = overwhelming registration or history advantage
- likely = strong registration or history advantage for the district's majority party.  A minority party pick up here is within the realm of possibility, but highly unlikely
- leans = solid registration or history advantage, but close enough that a couple of mistakes by the majority party candidate(s) and a well-run campaign by the minority party candidate could result in an upset
- Toss up = just that; could go either way.  The coloring (light blue or light red) indicates a possible lean to the race but is not a prediction

Note: the "summary" evaluations are not scientific, and in a few instances, are based as much on "feel" as numbers.  In other words, do your own due diligence when evaluating a specific race.

LD1 R + 29%
Senate: R: Steve Pierce*

D: n/a

summary: over

House: R: Karen Fann*

Noel Campbell

D: Frank Cuccia

summary: all over but the shouting

LD2 D + 16%
Senate: R: Daniel Estrella

D: Andrea Dallessandro*

summary: all over but the shouting

House: R: John Ackerley

D: Demion Clinco*

Rosanna Gabaldon*

summary: all over but the shouting

LD3 D + 19%
Senate: R: n/a

D: Olivia Cajero-Bedford*

summary: over

House: R: n/a

D: Sally Gonzales*

Macario Saldate*

summary: over

LD4 D + 15%
Senate: R: Connie Uribe

D: Lynne Pancrazi*

summary: all over but the shouting

House: R: Richard Hopkins

D: Charlene Fernandez

Lisa Otondo*

summary: all over but the shouting

LD5 R + 19%
Senate: R: Kelli Ward*

D: n/a

summary: over

House: R: Sonny Borrelli*

Regina Cobb

D: Joe Longoria

Beth Weisser

summary: all over but the shouting

LD6 R + 11%
Senate: R: Chester Crandell*

D: n/a

summary: Interesting possibilities here.

House: R: Brenda Barton*

Bob Thorpe*

D: Lanny Morrison

summary: Likely R

LD7 D + 33%
Senate: R: n/a

D: Carlyle Begay*

summary: over

House: R: n/a

D: Jennifer Benally

Albert Hale*

summary: over

LD8 D + 5%
Senate: R: Irene Littleton

D: Barbara McGuire*

summary: Toss up

House: R: Frank Pratt*

TJ Shope*

D: Carmen Casillas

summary: Likely R, but a possible poach for the Ds

LD9 D + 4%
Senate: R: n/a

D: Steve Farley*

summary: over

House: R: Ethan Orr*

D: Victoria Steele*

Randall Friese

summary: Poachable; Orr is an R incumbent running in a D-leaning district

LD10 D + 3%
Senate: R: Mark Morrison

D: David Bradley*

summary: Leans D

House: R: Todd Clodfelter

William Wildish

D: Stephanie Mach*

Bruce Wheeler*

summary: Leans D

LD11 R + 12%
Senate: R: Steve Smith**

D: Jo Holt

summary: Leans R

House: R: Mark Finchem

Vince Leach

D: Holly Lyon

summary: Likely R

LD12 R + 27%
Senate: R: Andy Biggs*

D: Scott Glover

summary: all over but the shouting

House: R: Eddie Farnsworth*

Warren Petersen*

D: DJ Rothans

summary: all over but the shouting

LD13 R + 17%
Senate: R: Don Shooter*

D: Terri Woodmansee

summary: all over but the shouting

House: R: Darin Mitchell*

Steve Montenegro*

D: Steve Hansen

summary: all over but the shouting

LD14 R + 12%
Senate: R: Gail Griffin*

D: n/a

summary: over

House: R: David Gowan*

David Stevens*

D: James Burton

summary: all over but the shouting

LD15 R + 21%
Senate: R: Nancy Barto*

D: n/a

summary: over

House: R: Heather Carter*

John Allen*

D: n/a

summary: over

LD16 R + 16%
Senate: R: David Farnsworth*

D: Scott Prior

summary: Likely R.

House: R: Doug Coleman*

Kelly Townsend*

D: Cara Prior

summary: Likely R.

LD17 R + 12%
Senate: R: Steve Yarbrough*

D: Kristie O'Brien

summary: Leans R

House: R: JD Mesnard*

Jeff Weninger

D: Danielle Lee

summary: Likely R.

LD18 R + 8%
Senate: R: Jeff Dial**

D: Janie Hydrick

summary: Leans R, but race to watch

House: R: Jill Norgaard

Bob Robson*

D: Mitzi Epstein

summary: Leans R, but race to watch

LD19 D + 21%
Senate: R: n/a

D: Lupe Contreras

summary: over

House: R: Sophia Johnson

D: Mark Cardenas*

Diego Espinoza

summary: all over but the shouting

LD20 R + 9%
Senate: R: Kimberly Yee*

D: Patty Kennedy

summary: Likely R

House: R: Paul Boyer*

Anthony Kern

D: Amy Schwabenlender

summary: Likely R

LD21 R + 10%
Senate: R: Debbie Lesko**

D: Carolyn Vasko

summary: Likely R

House: R: Rick Gray*

Tony Rivero

D: Esther Lumm

summary: Likely R

LD22 R + 23%
Senate: R: Judy Burges*

D: Arky Muscato

summary: all over but the shouting

House: R: David Livingston*

Phil Lovas*

D: Bonnie Boyce-Wilson

Larry Woods

summary: all over but the shouting

LD23 R + 24%
Senate: R: John Kavanagh**

D: Paula Pennypacker

summary: Likely R, but a race to watch

House: R: Michelle Ugenti*

Jay Lawrence

D: n/a

summary: over

LD24 D + 15%
Senate: R: Bill Follette

D: Katie Hobbs*

summary: all over but the shouting

House: R: Lei Lani Cortez

D: Ken Clark

Lela Alston*

summary: all over but the shouting

LD25 R + 25%
Senate: R: Bob Worsley*

D: Steven Zachary

summary: all over but the shouting

House: R: Justin Olson*

Rusty Bowers

D: David Butler

Sheila Ogea

summary: all over but the shouting

LD26 D + 6%
Senate: R: n/a

D: Ed Ableser*

summary: Likely D, but the Rs are trying to get cute here.

House: R: James Roy

D: Juan Mendez*

Andrew Sherwood*

summary: all over but the shouting

LD27 D + 32%
Senate: R: n/a

D: Catherine Miranda**

summary: over

House: R: n/a

D: Reginald Bolding

Rebecca Rios

summary: over

LD28 R + 11%
Senate: R: Adam Driggs*

D: Kelli Butler

summary: Likely R

House: R: Kate Brophy McGee*

Shawnna Bolick

D: Eric Meyer*

summary: Leans R, but one to watch – Meyer is multiple term incumbent in an R-leaning district

LD29 D + 18%
Senate: R: Crystal Nuttle

D: Martin Quezada**

summary: all over but the shouting

House: R: Aaron Borders

D: Cece Velasquez

Richard Andrade

summary: all over but the shouting

LD30 D + 16%
Senate: R: Gary Cox

D: Robert Meza*

summary: all over but the shouting

House: R: Michael Gidwani

John Lyon

D: Jonathan Larkin*

Debbie McCune-Davis*

summary: all over but the shouting

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