Rep. Nancy Barto out-campaigned her main rival, Rep. Ray Barnes, to win the four-way Republican primary for the Senate in Legislative District 7.
Barto has cornered 46 percent out of about 18,000 votes counted so far. Rep. Ray Barnes, who served with Barto in the Hose, received 33 percent of the votes, according to the latest tally by the Maricopa County Election Department.
Sen. Ed Bunch, who currently represents the district but didn’t seek election to the Senate, said Barnes served the district very well.
“(But) I think representative Barto just had the support of the many social conservative policy groups as well as the support of many of the business lobbyists,” Bunch said, adding that his opponent raised a lot of money and was able to get her message out.
The two other Republican candidates, Bob Green and Brad Buch got 2,560 and 1,185 votes, respectively.
Barnes and Barto both jumped into the fray to replace Jim Waring, who resigned from the Senate early this year to run for Congress.
Bunch, a district party officer, was eventually chosen to replace Waring. Bunch, however, had pledged that he wouldn’t run for election to a full term in either the House or the Senate.
When Barto and Barnes decided to run for a full term in Waring’s old seat and clashed for a second time, it was Barto who had the financial upper hand.
She raised about $75,000 compared to Barnes’ $14,000, according to their latest campaign finance reports.
She outspent Barnes by more than $25,000, and she benefited from almost $8,000 in independent spending.
It had been a crowded House and Senate primary in this Republican stronghold, and the candidates struggled to distinguish themselves from one another.
And if there were any larger themes that emerged during the primary, it was a hint of an anti-incumbency sentiment on the part of some candidates.
“I don’t think we need lawyers and politicians in the Legislature,” Green once said during a debate in June. “Our current Legislature in all districts throughout the state has failed us over the last several years.”
But incumbency and an effective fundraising machine proved unbeatable in the end.