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Senate loses moderate Toni Hellon

Toni Hellon defeated
A national political action committee called All Children Matter sent out mailers and aired radio ads targeting Sen. Toni Hellon, accusing her of opposing school choice and siding with liberals and teachers’ unions against charter schools. She was defeat by newcomer Al Melvin.

And then there was one.
The Senate’s two moderate Republicans and office mates were separated by a primary election upset, leaving only Sen. Carolyn Allen to fight another session, and Sen. Toni Hellon to count her accomplishments as a lawmaker instead of the number of tractor-trailers on the road between Tucson and Phoenix.
Ms. Allen, who defeated Rep. Colette Rosati in a bitter intra-party battle for the District 8 Senate seat, said she was “devastated” by Ms. Hellon’s loss to conservative Al Melvin, but encouraged about the possibility that moderate Republican Rep. Tom O’Halleran will join the Senate after his win over Will Stoll in District 1. That district, as did Ms. Hellon’s District 26, saw last-minute attacks on moderates from an out-of-state political action committee.
Ms. Hellon, who toward the end of this year’s session took floor time to report the number of the hundreds of large trucks she counted on her trip to Phoenix, told Arizona Capitol Times on election night she was not upset about her defeat Sept. 12.
“I might feel different when I wake up tomorrow morning, but I’m OK with it,” she said election night.
Mr. Melvin, a retired Naval Reserve officer and conservative from Tucson, took 57 percent of the vote. He is now in a general election contest with Democrat Charlene Pesquiera of Oro Valley, an instructor in criminal justice.
Mailers hit Hellon hard
A national school choice political action committee called All Children Matter sent out mailers and aired radio ads against Ms. Hellon and Mr. O’Halleran, accusing them of opposing school choice and siding with liberals and teachers’ unions against charter schools. In the mailer supporting Mr. Melvin, Ms. Hellon’s photo was placed in line with those of Democrat Sens. John Kerry and Hillary Rodham Clinton and former Vice President Al Gore.
The organization was founded by Amway chief Dick DeVos, who has spent millions supporting conservatives in state campaigns.
Ms. Hellon’s defeat also is a blow for Governor Napolitano. As chairman of the Senate K-12 Education committee, she was one of the chief proponents of the governor’s drive for full-day kindergarten in all eligible school districts.
Sen. Allen takes 55% of vote
Ms. Allen, chairman of the Senate Health Committee, said, “I am pleased that my district, one more time, has given me that vote of confidence. It means a great deal to me.” She took 55 percent of the vote and will face Democrat Dan Oseran, a former prosecuting attorney from Scottsdale.
In District 8, Republicans account for 50.5 percent of the registered voters compared to 22.9 percent for Democrats and 26.6 percent independent or other.
Rosati blames party for loss
Meanwhile, Ms. Rosati, calling Ms. Allen a “liberal Democrat,” blamed her loss on her own party, the East Valley Tribune reported. She claimed the party failed to provide her with information that 1,500 independent voters had requested Republican ballots.
”It’s hard to believe it’s a mistake,” Ms. Rosati told the newspaper.
Ms. Allen unofficially beat Ms. Rosati by 1,564 votes. The final count will be in Sept. 25.
Ms. Reagan, an ally of Ms. Allen, disputed Ms. Rosati’s claim, saying there were no more than “a couple hundred” independents in the district who requested GOP ballots. Further, she said, Ms. Rosati would have received the information at the same time as every other candidate.
Ms. Reagan also told Arizona Capitol Times Ms. Rosati showed up at a Scottsdale polling place with an easel and a poster claiming she was a better candidate than Ms. Allen, especially in protecting taxpayers.
“I saw it firsthand,” Ms. Reagan said, adding she saw Ms. Rosati in the parking lot “harassing” voters as they waited to vote.
Ms. Reagan said she also received numerous phone calls from constituents complaining about harassment they received from Ms. Rosati supporters at other polling locations.
Teenage Republicans recruited to work a polling place were badgered by Ms. Rosati’s husband, Ms. Reagan said, to the point that Ms. Reagan picked up the kids and drove them to another polling place. She also said House candidate Travis Junion, who finished fifth in the field, was yelled at by Ms. Rosati in a polling place parking lot.
“She yelled at him to get a real job,” Ms. Reagan said.
Ms. Reagan told of another incident where Ms. Rosati confronted some of her College Republican supporters, asking them, “What liberal faction of the Republican Party are you working for≠” The college students were wearing Reagan 2006 tee shirts.
PAC failed to derail O’Halleran
The All Children Matter mailer and radio ads failed to derail Mr. O’Halleran in northern Arizona.
“There was outside pressure from [Speaker Jim] Weiers and special interest groups from outside the district that played a role in my race,” Mr. O’Halleran said. “I’ve got to be thankful my voters were able to see through that.”
Prescott business owner Elise Townsend’s name was on the ballot because her withdrawal from the race came after the ballots were printed — a factor that could have, but didn’t trigger a recount election.
The requirements for a recount in local elections is a difference of one-tenth of a percentage point in the vote between two candidates, but the vote count is lower — a difference of 50 votes for legislative candidates and as few as 10 votes for county board of supervisors candidates.
Had Mr. Stoll received all 1,114 votes Ms. Townsend did, he would have surpassed Mr. O’Halleran by 54 votes. Had he received 1,110 votes, a recall would have been in order
As is stood, however, Mr. O’Halleran won by 6 percentage points. He faces Democrat Josephine Kelleher of Chino Valley, an educator, in the genera; election.
Republicans outnumber Democrats in the district, 45.8 percent to 26.2 percent, with 28 percent registered as independent or other.
Senate President Ken Bennett had endorsed Mr. Stoll, saying he respects Mr. O’Halleran but criticized him for being an antagonist in the Republican caucus.
“Both Carolyn Allen and I can work with almost anybody,” Mr. O’Halleran, adding he thinks new Senate leadership will work for a more unified caucus.
He said he will announce his choice for Senate president in about a week.
Senate president prediction
Indications point to Sen. Tim Bee, R-30, as president if he gets by Democrat Jeffrey Chimene in the general election. Sen. Robert Blendu, R-12, lost a vote for president with the defeat of Mr. Stoll, and Sen. Robert Burns has been encouraged to stay on as Appropriations Committee chairman, rather than run for Senate president.
Sens. Thayer Verschoor and Jay Tibshraeny of the East Valley are competing for majority leader, and Sen. John Huppenthal of Chandler want to be whip.
“I’ve gotten enough commitments to get it,” Mr. Huppenthal said. He was non-committal about whom he’ll support for president.
Downing: Defeat means freedom
In the only Democratic primary for Senate, Sen. Paula Aboud defeated Rep. Ted Downing in District 28, returning her to the Senate, where she was appointed this year to replace Gabrielle Giffords, who won her party’s nomination in the primary in Congressional District 8.
Ms. Aboud, who took 54 percent of the vote, says she won because voters believe she can deliver more for Tucson. She has denied any involvement in a “push poll” that advocated for her candidacy by citing Mr. Downing’s 2005 vote against a spousal rape bill.
“I’m now free to act politically in ways I could never act before,” Mr. Downing said the night of the primary. “It’s a new freedom… I don’t have to live in Phoenix 100-plus days. There’s many ways to act politically in the state without being in office.”
House reporter Jim Small contributed to this article.

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