The presidential primaries are long behind us, but the primary election for other federal offices – the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives – as well as for the Arizona Corporation Commission and Arizona Legislature are still to come.
Early balloting for the primary election in Arizona begins Aug. 3. Primary Election Day is Aug. 30. For important information related to the election, visit this page: azsos.gov/elections/voting-election.
At least one congressional race in Arizona – in the 1st Congressional District – will be watched by political observers at the national level because it has an open seat this year and is considered to be a swing district. Another open seat – in Congressional District 5 – has attracted several candidates on the Republican side of the aisle and the winner of that primary is expected to be the winner in November.
This year, in seven of the state’s nine congressional districts, either the incumbent has no primary election challenger or is expected to win the primary easily, even with a primary challenger.
In Congressional Districts 1 and 5, however, neither current office-holder is seeking re-election. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, a Democrat representing District 1, is running for the U.S. Senate. Rep. Matt Salmon, a Republican who represents District 5, is retiring to spend more time with his family.
Six Republicans and two Democrats are competing in this district. The Republican lineup includes Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu (sheriffpaul.com), former Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett (bennettforcongress.com), Arizona House Speaker David Gowan (gowanforarizona.com), rancher Gary Kiehne (kiehneforcongress.com), Navajo businessman Shawn Redd (shawnredd.com) and retired Air Force Lt. Col. and small-business owner Wendy Rogers (wendyrogers.org).
Tom O’Halleran (tomohalleran.com) and Miguel Olivas (olivas.rocks) are the Democrats in the CD 1 primary.
“This is a big national race,” said Ron Ober, founder of Policy Development Group, a Phoenix-based government relations firm, “because CD 1 is a swing district and will be among the most closely watched in the country.” O’Halleran, a former state lawmaker, was a moderate to liberal Republican who is now a Democrat, Ober said. Babeu started off with higher name recognition and has raised more money than his primary opponents, Ober said.
CD 1 will be a “fascinating race,” he said. “I fully expect that both the Republican and Democratic congressional campaign committees will spend lots of money in this state.” He predicted O’Halleran will easily win the Democratic primary.
On the Republican side, contenders with more statewide name identification are Bennett, Babeu and Gowan, said George Weisz, a former state lawmaker and partner with wife, Leesa, in Weisz Strategies, a government relations consulting firm.
The key to victory “may be independent voters whose registration has grown to be the largest of any group and who can exercise that vote in either party’s primary,” Weisz said.
One of Bennett’s top priorities will be “getting our country’s financial house in order,” according to his website. The solution has two main parts, he says: cut wasteful spending and get more Americans back to work.
Babeu’s priorities would include fighting for a stronger military and pushing Congress and the White House to deal fairly with our friends and enemies, always putting the primacy of America first.
O’Halleran’s priorities are investing in education, job-training, research and infrastructure that ensure “we can keep our competitive advantage as a state and country and prepare for the jobs of the future,” according to his website.
Gowan will “continue the fight to build a real border wall, secure the border once and for all, stop the flow of criminals, drugs and guns across the border, return those here illegally to their home country and implement the systems needed to stop the practice of overstaying student and guest visas,” according to his website.
Kiehne’s priorities include lowering taxes and repealing the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act to encourage lenders to “support financing opportunities for American small businesses and job creators,” according to his website.
Redd says the federal government is “smothering small business with an overload of regulations and taxes.” He says Federal Trust Lands (reservations) “are literally starving for commerce” and he wants to encourage job creation.
Rogers wants to focus on controlling U.S. borders to preserve sovereignty and protect communities.
Four Republicans and two Democrats are competing in this district. Republicans include Arizona Senate President Andy Biggs (biggsforcongress.com), businesswoman Christine Jones (christinejones.com), Arizona Rep. Justin Olson (votejustinolson.com) and former Maricopa County Supervisor Don Stapley (stapleyforcongress.com). Biggs, Olson and Stapley are all from Mesa. Jones lives in Phoenix, outside the district.
The Democrats running are applied biologist Talia Fuentes (taliaforcongress.com) and software engineer Kinsey Remaklus (kinseyforcongress.com).
Biggs wants to cut taxes and regulations for families and businesses, protect the country’s borders and shrink the size and cost of government.
Jones “will fight for the technology our military needs to defeat ISIS,” according to her website.
Olson wants to reduce the size, scope and reach of the federal government.
Stapley says on his website that he will vote for tax and regulatory policies that promote growth. “Growth is the answer to America’s fiscal woes,” he says.
Weisz said that Biggs clearly has an edge, especially with Salmon, a leading supporter of Israel, endorsing and chairing Biggs’ campaign.
Fuentes wants to inspire other women who have been politically vocal and have scientific minds and strong connections to their communities to run for public office.
Remaklus will work to end the practice of hydraulic fracking. “Fracking wastes massive amounts of fresh water by pumping it into the ground with undisclosed chemicals in order to extract natural gas,” he says on his website.
In CD 4 in the northwestern part of Arizona, Republican incumbent Paul Gosar (gosar4congress.com) is being challenged by Ray Strauss (raystrauss4congress.com), but Gosar is expected to win the primary. Democrat Mikel Weisser (mikelweisser.org) is being challenged only by write-in candidate Robert Hixon. The district is overwhelmingly Republican.
In CD 6, Republican incumbent David Schweikert (davidschweikert.com) is being challenged by Russ Wittenberg (facebook.com/CaptainRuss4Congress), but Schweikert is expected to win his primary, too. On the Democratic side, John Williamson (williamsonforuscongress.com) is running against Brian Sinuk (briansinuk.com). With the exception of one two-year term beginning in 1993, the CD 6 seat has always been held by a Republican since the district was created in 1990.
Both Weisser and Williamson ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2012 and 2014.
In CD 9, Democratic incumbent Kyrsten Sinema (kyrstensinema.com) is running unopposed in the primary. Dave Giles (davegilesforcongress.com) and John Agra (johnagra.com) are competing on the Republican side.
“Kyrsten is one of the strongest campaigners in Congress and is one of the champions of a strong U.S.-Israel relationship,” Weisz said.
“Rep. Sinema can be counted on as one of Israel’s staunchest allies in Congress,” Ober agreed.
This year, Ober said, CD 9 is considered to be safely Democratic. Yet “in this crazy election year, no candidate should take anything for granted,” Weisz cautioned.