It may be an “off-year” election, but a U.S. Senate race is already heating up, a Maricopan is making a bid for Congress, and state and local races may prove to be contentious.
After a tumultuous 2017, Arizona’s political role on the national stage is likely to continue down the same raucous path during the 2018 mid-term elections.
U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake, who butted heads with President Trump, announced he will not seek re-election, leaving his seat vacant due to what he considers an unsavory political climate among fellow conservatives where there exists a “flagrant disregard for truth or decency.”
“[What] if decency fails to call out indecency,” Flake asked rhetorically during an Oct. 24 speech on the Senate floor. “Were the shoe on the other foot, would we Republicans accept such behavior on display from dominant Democrats?”
In the wake of his announcement, Republicans began to flex their campaign muscles preparing for what’s likely to be a contentious battle to fill Flake’s seat.
Thus far, from the relatively moderate end of the conservative political spectrum, Republican U.S. Rep. Martha McSally from Arizona’s second legislative district brings a bipartisan approach to hot-button issues such as healthcare and social security.
“While there is a lot of attention on areas of disagreement on healthcare, I am committed to working to find areas of agreement and governing,” McSally said in July 2017 press release.
At the far-right end of that spectrum lay more fiery GOP candidates, including former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and state Sen. Kelli Ward of Arizona’s fifth legislative district, both ardent Trump supporters. Arpaio was convicted of criminal contempt of court for violating a judge’s order when he “continued to detain and harass” suspected undocumented immigrants who had not been suspected of or charged with a crime.
President Trump pardoned Arpaio in August 2017, and called him an American patriot who “kept Arizona safe.” Both Ward and Arpaio are staunch supporters of Trump’s immigration policy, including his now-defunct ban on immigrants from predominantly Muslim countries, save for the recent barring of immigrants from Venezuela and North Korea. McSally defended Trump’s attacks on the press.
In opposition, Democrats are offering their own dose of partisan fervor to tilt the political scales to the left.
Phoenix attorney and Democrat Deedra Abboud is also running to fill Flake’s seat. Abboud is an American-born progressive Muslim who states on her website “we must be free to forge our own futures, to determine our own destinies, and to follow our own faith, including no faith at all.”
Also on the left, fighting for Flake’s seat is Kristen Sinema, a Blue Dog Democrat with moderate liberal views many consider to be “GOP-friendly.” With political clout and actual campaign capital, some see Sinema as a formidable force capable of turning the red seat blue.
In the race for U.S. representative for District 1, conservative Republican state Sen. Steve Smith of Maricopa and other candidates are challenging incumbent Tom O’Halleran, a moderate Democrat who resides near Sedona.
Smith and fellow Republican candidates Kevin Cavanaugh and Tiffany Shedd have their work cut out for them in creating name recognition in a vast district that is nearly equally divided between the majority parties.
O’Halleran, a former Republican and former independent before winning his seat two years ago, has shown a moderate bent in D.C., with a record of bipartisan work with veterans and law enforcement.
For the governorship, incumbent Doug Ducey is seeking re-election after one term. Campaigning for the job are Democrat state Sen. Steve Farley and Army veteran and educator David Garcia, as well as numerous candidates from other parties and independents.
For Secretary of State, Republican Lori Klein Corbin and Democrats state Sen. Katie Hobbs and attorney Mark Robert Gordon all want incumbent GOP Michele Reagan’s job.
For Attorney General, Republican incumbent Mark Brnovich is running for re-election. He is being challenged by Democrat January Contreras.
Other state-level positions up for grabs are Superintendent of Public Education, State Treasurer, Mine Inspector, and two Corporation Commission seats.
Legislative District 11
Republican state Rep. Vince Leach and Democrat Ralph Atchue are running to fill the Senate seat vacated by Republican Steve Smith.
Running for two seats in the House of Representatives, one vacated by Leach seeking the Senate seat, are three Republicans: incumbent Mark Finchem, Maricopa Constable Bret Roberts and former Maricopa City Councilmember Bridger Kimball. Running in opposition are two Democrats: Hollace Lyon and Barry McCain.
In Pinal County, incumbent Clerk of Superior Court Amanda Stanford is running unopposed so far.
For Justice of the Peace of the Maricopa/Stanfield Justice Court, incumbent Republican Lyle Riggs has not yet declared his intention to seek re-election.
For Maricopa/Stanfield constable, three men are running for the seat being vacated by Bret Roberts, who seeking the LD 11 representative seat. Declared candidates are Republicans Glenn Morrison and Bill Griffin and Democrat Andre LaFond.
Registration for Maricopa City Council candidates opened Jan. 22 and will close April 30. Candidate packets must be returned from April 30 to May 30. Three seats are up for election.
Two seats are available on the Maricopa Unified School District Governing Board. Candidate packets will be available from the Pinal County Superintendent’s Office in mid-March. Due date to file is July-August, but those date have not yet been set. The school board election is only on the General Election ballot.
This is an update of a story that appears in the February issue of InMaricopa.