Republican activist Lori Klein knocked down incumbent senator David Braswell in Northern Phoenix and pulled off one of the few upsets in the Aug. 24 primary election.
Klein’s victory, however, wasn’t a complete surprise.
She ran an aggressive campaign to get the party’s nod in the Senate primary in Legislative District 6, one of most conservative enclaves in the Valley.
Klein captured 57 percent out of some 17,000 votes counted so far; Braswell trailed with 43 percent, according to an unofficial tally by the Maricopa County Election Department.
Klein said the race was about electing a conservative.
“I was able to provide them a conservative choice that will keep in the tradition of Pamela Gorman and Dean Martin, who will vote for lower taxes and limited government,” Klein told the Arizona Capitol Times.
Political consultant Chad Willems, who worked on the Braswell campaign, said Braswell got unfairly labeled as a moderate candidate.
“They were able to beat him up a little bit, you know, on his ties to the education union,” Willems said.
Klein will face Democrat Pat Flickner this November.
But Klein will go into the general election campaign as the favorite. Republicans have a 17,000 voter-registration edge over Democrats in the district.
The primary race between Braswell, who took over Pamela Gorman’s Senate post early this year, and Klein perhaps best illustrates the ideological wrangling within the Republican Party.
Klein, who has worked on a number of citizen initiatives, including the 2006 ballot measure that limited the use of eminent domain, has portrayed herself as the “conservative choice” and sought to paint Braswell as a moderate.
“It is the usual conservative-versus-moderate race that we see all over the state,” Klein earlier said.
Klein had described Braswell as “more or less a big government type.” She based this conclusion on the support Braswell received from Gov. Jan Brewer and the Professional Firefighters of Arizona and the Phoenix Law Enforcement Agency, as well as some independent spending from a group funded by the Arizona Education Association.
But Braswell said Klein is simplistic and “very libertarian” in her approach to issues. Such an approach presumably favors removing all government regulations as opposed to a more nuanced look at lessening regulations.
For Braswell, a CEO of a software company, the race boiled down to who had the better set of skills to represent the district. It’s also a question of character and judgment, he said.
Braswell largely refrained from going negative against Klein. He refused, for example, to raise Klein’ DUI conviction as a campaign issue.
Klein said her conviction taught her a hard lesson, but she said she doesn’t hide her record. She said she had two glasses of wine and didn’t feel impaired when she was pulled over for speeding in 2008.
“I would say that it would be a judgment in error if this is something I have done chronically,” she said. “This was a mistake that I made, that I paid for, that has nothing to do with my conservative philosophy.”