Former legislator Jack Jackson, Jr. holds the early lead in the Democratic Senate primary in Legislative District 2, an expansive area in Northeast Arizona.
Jackson, who is in the four-way Democratic primary for the seat now held by Albert Hale, has captured 3,665 votes so far, according to an early tally by the Secretary of State’s office.
Trailing Jackson is Sylvia Laughter with 2,547 votes, Kee Allen Begay Jr. with 1,470 votes and Gloria Ann Hale-Showalter with 914 votes.
Laughter is also a former House member.
Both Begay and Jackson are running as Clean Elections candidates, while Laughter and Hale-Showalter, a relative of Albert Hale’s, are running as traditional candidates.
The American Federation for Children, an independent expenditure group, has spent nearly $12,000 in radio ads to help put Laughter in office.
But Laughter also has been on the receiving end of independent spending to oppose her Senate campaign.
Citizens for Coconino County, which is funded by Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona and the union UFCW Local 99, has spent more than $7,000 in mailings against her.
Laughter was elected to the Arizona House as a Democrat in 1998, but switched her party affiliation to independent while in office. She is now registered again as a Democrat.
Laughter’s decision to run as a Democrat was a strategic decision, based on the counsel of advisers who felt it would be difficult for an independent to win, considering the dominant two-party system, she said.
“When you’re trying to pass legislation you have to be willing to work with both sides of the aisle, and that’s one thing that I’m known for,” she said.