Michelle Ugenti will join Rep. John Kavanagh as the GOP choice in the Legislative District 8 primary.
With 75 of 76 precincts reporting and early ballots counted, Ugenti holds a sizable lead over Michael Blaire, who is running in third. Kavanagh is ahead of Ugenti by almost 7,000 votes.
Ugenti can almost rest assured of winning a seat in the general election because Republicans have historically won in landslides in the affluent district, which has almost twice as many registered Republicans as Democrats.
The Republican opposition will be lone Democrat John Kriekard, an education consultant and former Superintendent of the Paradise Valley Unified School District.
Kavanagh, who is chair of the House Appropriations Committee, is going for his third consecutive term. His hawkish stance against illegal immigration has put him at the forefront of the immigration debate that erupted nationally after the passage of SB1070 earlier this year.
Kavanagh’s position makes him one of the most powerful lawmakers in the House. The Appropriations committees in both chambers have led the Legislature’s effort to cut billions from the state budget in recent years. Even more cuts will be necessary next year to address the continuing budget crisis, which the Joint Budget Legislative Committee anticipates will reach a $2 billion to $3 billion deficit.
Ugenti, a tea party member, said the way to fix the budget is to lower taxes, which will attract vibrant businesses to the state.