Sen. Sylvia Allen, a Snowflake Republican, said she doesn’t think rival candidate Rep. Bill Konopnicki will overcome her lead in Legislative District 5.
“I’m pretty confident. I don’t think he is going to be able to make that up,” Allen told the Arizona Capitol Times at about 11 p.m. on primary election night.
Konopnicki was unavailable for comment.
Allen said the precincts that have yet to report are her strongholds.
Allen has a lock on 9,474 votes, a nine-point percentage point lead over Konopnicki’s 7,935 votes, according to an unofficial tally by the Secretary of State’s Office.
The district has almost 40,000 Republican voters.
The primary brings an end to a bitter contest between Allen and Konopnicki, two big political names in eastern Arizona who have fought publicly for months over Konopnicki’s conservative credentials and Allen’s position on immigration.
“I think the campaign was about our record,” Allen said. “(I) did what I was said I was going to do. Mr. Konopnicki tried to spin it.”
Allen has claimed that Konopnicki isn’t really a conservative, which Konopnicki denies. And Konopnicki has said Allen supports amnesty for illegal immigrants, which Allen says is not true.
The winner of the GOP primary is by no means assured of the Senate seat. Allen, if she wins, would still face Democrat Elaine Bohlmeyer in the general election.
Either Republican candidate would bring tremendous advantages to the November race, chief of them a great name-ID in this sprawling rural district.
The GOP primary contest had been hard-fought and nasty, with both sides accusing each other of distortion and misrepresentation.
The pair has a history, dating back more than two years ago to the death of Jake Flake, the former House speaker and state senator, which triggered a process to fill the vacated Senate seat and replace Flake’s name on the primary ballot.
Both Allen and Konopnicki vied to replace Flake on the ballot. Republicans from the district chose Allen.
And while Allen and Konopnicki both serve the same district, the two haven’t worked together.
Allen issued a news release in July to blast Konopnicki for raising campaign money from donors who live outside the district. “Konopnicki’s support is neither rural nor conservative,” Allen wrote.
Konopnicki, in response, questioned Allen’s understanding of campaign finances. And his campaign pushed back.
An anti-Allen mailer said his rival “supports amnesty,” and quotes Allen as saying, “I would give amnesty today to many…”
The quote was part of a letter Allen wrote defending SB1070, saying she would only support amnesty if the Arizona border with Mexico was secured first.