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Arizona Congressional

Races To Watch In 2012

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Clockwise from top left, Kyrsten Sinema, Ben Quayle, Richard Carmona and David Schweikert.

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Some Of The Most Competitive Congressional Races In This Electoral Merry-Go-Round Will Be Decided In The Primary Contests


By John Guzzon
Modern Times Magazine

July 11, 2012 — Election season springs anew every two years, in a seemingly unending cacophony of indifference, verbosity and change.

But thanks to the decennial census, the political landscape is especially fluid every 10 years as new boundaries create spirited races. Arizona’s controversial redistricting process might bring a bigger change than many states. The new legislative and Congressional boundaries have been called a step toward balance by impartial observers when compared to the previous maps that carried republicans to a two-thirds majority although voting registration is virtually even.

But beyond the new congressional and legislative boundaries are the races that look competitive. What makes the process interesting this go around is that there has not been an issue that will likely dominate this election cycle as SB 1070 and immigration dominated in 2010. With less than 60 days remaining before the primary election on Aug. 28, it is unlikely that one will appear.

There are many seats that have only one candidate, and others with a handful of hopefuls but every election is vitally important to those that live in that district.

Yet, some races carry intrigue beyond the norm, and include some political players of note. Our list of races to watch in the 2012 congressional primary races include:

U.S. Senate
Democrats: Richard Carmona
Republicans: Wil Cardon, Jeff Flake, Bryan Hackbarth, Clair Van Steenwyk, John Lyon (write in)

After not having mounted a serious run at the U.S. Senate since Dennis DeConcini surrendered his seat to the now-retiring Jon Kyl nearly two decades ago, democrats are hopeful that new Arizona transplant and former U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona can gain a victory.

Carmona is running unopposed in the primary and has the connections and backing that will make him a serious contender to win in November.

The republican primary battle, however, is particularly interesting because it is more family feud than political race. On one side is Rep. Jeff Flake, and the other is Cardon Group CEO, Wil Cardon. The two gentleman were part of the same Mormon “ward” in Mesa most their lives. Cardon was one of Flake's most prodigious backers throughout his term in the House of Representatives.

Today, however, they’re throwing barbs that reflect the tenor of a friendship gone awry, with allegations that only close friends could know and corresponding apologies on Facebook.

It gets even more interesting when one considers both Cardon and Flake have strong ties to Mitt Romney. Cardon’s father is a cousin of Romney — thereby making Romney Cardon’s first cousin, once removed.

Flake is often a surrogate for Romney on the campaign trail. Romney has personally donated to the campaigns of both men, although he does so extremely rarely.

The fight for the Senate — at least in the primary — will be a Mormon slugfest.

Bryan Hackbarth, Clair Van Steenwyk and John Lyon will be lucky to place in double digits.

U.S. Representative in Congress - District No. 4
Americans Elect: Richard Grayson
Democrats: Johnnie Robinson, Mikel Weisser
Libertarian: Joe Pamelia
Republicans: Paul Gosar, Ron Gould, Rick Murphy

Although there are five other candidates in the primary-election season, the reality is the winner of republican battle between Paul Gosar and Ron Gould will likely take the seat. According to Independent Redistricting Commission demographic information about district No. 4, there is a 20 percent republican majority. Gosar, who is a dentist in Prescott  — or Flagstaff — is a darling of the tea party and was a first time winner in 2010, defeating incumbent democrat Ann Kirkpatrick by six percentage points, 49.7 to 43.7.

But the district he is running in now is very different — instead of a competitive district, it is now a republican-skewed district.

Gould was a major storm-trooper for the recalled Russell Pearce and was the author of a bill to allow guns on school campuses. The Goldwater Institute, Americans for Prosperity, and the Arizona Federation of Taxpayers have rated him as the most conservative Arizona State Senator.

Americans Elect candidate Richard Grayson, democratic candidates Johnnie Robinson, Mikel Weisser, libertarian Joe Pamelia and republican tag-along Rick Murphy are facing almost impossible odds in their pursuit of a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

U.S. Representative in Congress - District No. 5
Democrats: Spencer Morgan
Republicans: Kirk Adams, Matt Salmon

Congressional district No. 5 is another republican stronghold and democrat Spencer Morgan — a former Eagle Scout — will need to do more than help a lady to cross the street in order to have a chance at becoming a congressman.

The real battle here will be in the republican primary, where longtime republican player Matt Salmon is taking on former Speaker of the Arizona House, Kirk Adams. Salmon, another Mormon active in Arizona politics, was a congressman from 1995 until 2001 when he honored a campaign pledge to not seek another term. Instead, Salmon ran for governor in 2002, losing to two-termer Janet Napolitano. Since then, Salmon helped Scott Smith get elected in Mesa and lobbied for the Arizona republican party.

Adams is also a Mormon and as speaker of the House from 2009 to 2011 supported such controversial pieces of legislation as SB 1070.

If the two candidate’s actions at an April debate is any indication, this one will likely get a lot uglier by the end of August: Salmon was lambasted for comparing Adams to Pontius Pilate for raising taxes.

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