Four of Arizona’s eight congressional seats are likely to be competitive in November’s general election, three held by Democrats and one in a Republican-leaning district being vacated by a Republican who is retiring.
And with the 2010 elections considered a major opportunity for the GOP to gain many seats across the nation, the Aug. 24 primary elections for those four seats are a virtual who’s who of local Republican politicians or activists. Early voting has already begun. Eighteen Republicans are vying for the right to take on one of the three Democratic members of Congress whose seats are viewed as at-risk, and 10 more are in the race to succeed retiring Republican congressman John Shadegg.
With term limits cutting into the career length of Arizona legislators, winning a congressional seat is a surefire way of making politics a career, and there’s no shortage of former lawmakers on the Republican list.
Removing the also-rans and no-hope-of-winning candidates thins the Republican ranks to more manageable levels, but there are still plenty of big names looking to head to Washington at the end of the year. The AP identified the top-runners by a combination of name-recognition and cash available to run a campaign.
Here’s a look at the four races The Associated Press has identified as competitive and a listing of the other four Arizona congressional districts and their incumbents and number of challengers. The cash-on-hand figures are rounded off and based on Federal Election Commission filings for the reporting period that ended June 30.
One Democrat, two Libertarians and one Green Party candidate are joined by 10 Republicans in the race to fill Shadegg’s open seat. The most high-profile Republican candidate is Ben Quayle, the son of former Vice President Dan Quayle. Quayle, a lawyer and managing director of a Scottsdale investment firm, is also leading the 10 primary candidates in campaign cash.
Former Paradise Valley Mayor Vernon Parker and Paradise Valley business owner Steve Moak have raised considerable funds, while former state Sens. Pamela Gorman of Anthem and Jim Waring of Phoenix, and former state Rep. Sam Crump of Anthem all have enough name recognition to be serious contenders.
Other Republicans in the race include Phoenix attorney Paulina Morris, former Paradise Valley mayor Ed Winkler, Phoenix business owner LeAnn Hull and Phoenix college professor Bob Branch.
The most recent Federal Election Commission filings show Quayle had $684,000 to spend, while Moak had $383,000 and Parker had about $150,000 on hand.
Other Republicans reporting large amounts of cash on hand were Morris, who had $96,000, and Waring, who had $93,000 available.
Phoenix lawyer and businessman Jon Hulburd, the only Democrat running for the seat, had $483,000 available for his campaign.
Libertarians Clay Adair and Michael Shoen and Green Party candidate Leonard Clark are also running for the seat.
Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick is seeking a second term in Congress two years after winning the seat for the Democrats for the first time. She’ll face off against one of the eight Republicans who are trying to win the nomination and one third-party candidate.
Of the eight, two appear to have the money and name recognition to make a serious run for their party’s nomination, and a third still has enough cash to make a solid run. The front-runner in both is Sydney Hay of Munds Park, a former state lawmaker who ran against Kirkpatrick in 2008 but lost by a wide margin, 56 percent to 39 percent. Hay will have to beat back a challenge by political newcomer Paul Gosar, a Flagstaff dentist, and former teacher and current lawyer Bradley Beaucamp of Globe.
Other Republicans in the race include Russell “Rusty” Bowers, Joe Jaraczewski, Jon Jensen, Steve Mehta and Thomas Zalenski. Mehta and Bowers have about the same cash on hand at just under $14,000 while Jaraczewski, Jensen and Zalenski very little cash on hand.
The most recent Federal Election Commission filings show Hay with $290,000 on hand, while Gosar had $131,000 and Beaucamp had $55,000 to spend.
Kirkpatrick’s war chest is considerable larger: She had $896,000 on hand to deflect any challenge.
Democrat Harry Mitchell is seeking a third term in office. Six Republicans are running in the primary for the chance to face him in November, along with two third-party candidates.
The most visible Republican primary race is a repeat of the 2008 primary and pits Susan Bitter Smith against David Schwiekert, who won and then lost in the general election to Mitchell. Schwiekert is a former Maricopa County treasurer while Bitter Smith is a member of the Central Arizona Water Conservation District. Schwiekert had $434,000 on hand at the end of June to Bitter Smith’s $112,000. Also in the race is Jim Ward, a partner with a venture capital firm who has $284,000 on hand. Other Republicans in the race include Chris Salvino, Mark Spinks and Gentry Lee.
Mitchell had $1.12 million in the bank for his campaign as of June 30.
Four Republicans and one Libertarian are making bids to prevent Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords from earning a third term in Congress.
Former state Sen. Jonathan Paton of Tucson is leading the GOP field. Paton served two terms in the Arizona state House before he was elected to the state Senate in 2008. According to his most recent finance reports, Paton had $286,000 on hand for his campaign.
Jesse Kelly, a project manager with a construction company in Tucson, reported having $160,000 on hand. Brian Miller, an Air Force Reserve pilot from Tucson, had $6,287 on hand.
Republican Jay Quick and Libertarian Steven Stoltz are also running for the seat.
Giffords, meanwhile, has a lot of cash to fend off her challengers; she reported having $2.2 million on hand as of June 30.
Other congressional races:
Democratic challenger John Thrasher takes on Rep. Trent Franks in a repeat of 2008. Franks seat is considered safe.
CD4: Democratic Rep. Ed Pastor is considered a sure bet to retain his seat. Two Republicans are facing off in the primary for a chance to take him on.
CD6: Republican Rep. Jeff Flake is also considered safe. Democrat Rebecca Schneider will run against him in the general election.
CD7: Democratic Rep. Raul Grijalva is also considered a sure thing for re-election, but five Republicans are vying for the chance to challenge him