By Mark Scarp
Special to the Arizona Capitol Times
Arizona Republican voters rejected a state Corporation Commission candidate who gained national media attention when he spoke in favor of turning off electric power to homes where illegal immigrants live.
After nearly all of the ballots had been counted in the three-way race for the Republican nomination for two seats on the utility-regulatory panel, Barry Wong of Phoenix was far behind his two GOP rivals, first-term incumbent Commissioner Gary Pierce of Mesa and former state Senate President Brenda Burns of Scottsdale.
Wong had served briefly as a member of the commission in 2006, when he was appointed to fill several months of an unexpired term.
Pierce, who had the most votes of all GOP candidates, said the primary election results proved that his and Burns’ message hit home with voters.
“It resonated with Republicans,” said Pierce, 58, a former state representative. “We’re about rates, stable rates that encourage economic development. And that helps people in this economic recession to survive.”
Burns, 59, said she and Pierce were “staying on our message” rather than deal with Wong’s controversial view.
“I’m not sure that proposal, lack of proposal or whatever it was weighed in here,” she said.
Meanwhile, unofficial results showed Democrats David Bradley and Jorge Luis Garcia with comfortable leads over former Corporation Commissioner Renz Jennings. The two Democratic winners will advance to take on Burns and Pierce in the November general election.
Bradley, a former state representative from Tucson, was the top vote-getter among Democrats in the race.
Garcia, who will finish his term in the Senate this year, was in second place with roughly 7,000 more votes than Jennings.
Garcia’s campaign message was to put people on the Corporation Commission that are open to alternative sources of energy, like solar power.
But a lack of campaign money made it difficult to expand name-ID across the state.
“All of us were in the same boat for a long time,” Garcia said, referring to their lack of campaign cash at the beginning the campaign.
Garcia failed to get enough $5-contributions to qualify for Clean Elections funding, while Bradley qualified literally at the last minute – the day before the primary.
“The reason I won was I started campaigning (early),” Garcia said.
Neither the Libertarian nor Green parties fielded candidates in the primary election. Each of those parties received several hundred write-in votes.