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Name ID, party domination spur uncontested races

While most politicians have to battle their way to the Capitol, a small group of House and Senate candidates only need one vote each to win this November.

Nine Senate candidates and eight House hopefuls face no general election challengers this year.

Political observers and politicians identified at least three reasons why some candidates run unopposed: Their party’s commanding voter-registration edge, they do a good job of reflecting their district’s values and the poor economic climate might have dissuaded others from going into politics.

The candidates share a common thread: They are well-known entities. Almost everyone has legislative experience. Most are incumbent lawmakers, although some are shifting either to the House or to the Senate.

A few are former lawmakers.

Many also faced no primary election challenge.

In a way, this is how districts are expressing their choice — by declining to run opponents against them, according to Constantin Querard, a Republican political consultant.

Take the case of Rep. Steve Yarbrough, a Chandler Republican who is unopposed for the Senate post in the primary and general election.

“(Districts) have the same choice they always have – run or don’t run opponents. In this case, Yarbrough does a good job,” Querard said. “His district really likes him. You’re not going to beat him, and you’re not going to beat him because the district really likes him.”

To run unopposed, a candidate would need the cooperation of his or her own party as well as that of the other parties, and if the voter registration is competitive, an opposition party won’t simply concede the seat without a fight, according to Querard.

In Legislative District 21, which Yarbrough represents, Republicans comprise 41 percent of the electorate and Democrats hold 27 percent. More than a third of the voting population is made up of independents.

The reverse is true in Legislative District 13, where Democratic Sen. Richard Miranda and Rep. Anna Tovar are running unopposed for two House seats.

In this urban district, Democrats make up 45 percent of the votes while Republicans only hold 18 percent. About 37 percent of voters here are independents.

“The fact is we’re in a heavily Democratic area,” Miranda said.

It would be extremely difficult for anyone other than a Democrat to get elected in the district, Miranda said.

The situation is similar in District 29, where Sen. Linda Lopez is again running unopposed. She also faced no opponent two years ago, when she was first elected to the Senate.

In this southeast Tucson district, Democrats comprise nearly half of the electorate at 46 percent. Republicans hold 22 percent while independents make up 32 percent of the voting population.

In addition to her party’s voter registration edge, Lopez said being an incumbent is always an advantage.

“I believe I do represent the positions that Democrats in District 29 hold. I mean, that helps as well,” she added. “If I were out on a limb on stuff and people are going to say, ‘Wait the minute, that’s not the kind of Democrat I am,’ it might be a little more challenging.”

Rep. Robert Meza, a Phoenix Democrat, is also running unopposed in Legislative District 14, where Democrats make up 45 percent of the voters and Republicans are even fewer at 19 percent.

Meza said he also believes the poor economy has discouraged people who would otherwise be interested from running for a public office.

“The economy is so bad so people would not even think about running because it would take time away from their work, and everyone is trying to hold on to their jobs right now,” he said.

9 Senate candidates who are uncontested:

Jack Jackson, Jr, Democrat, LD2
Steve Gallardo, Democrat, LD13
Robert Meza, Democrat, LD14
Leah Landrum Taylor, Democrat LD16
John McComish, Republican, LD20
Steve Yarbrough, Republican, LD21
Andy Biggs, Republican, LD22
Olivia Cajero-Bedford, Democrat, LD28
Linda Lopez, Democrat, LD29

8 House candidates who are uncontested:

Doris Goodale, Republican, LD3
Nancy McLain, Republican, LD3
Richard Miranda, Democrat, LD13
Anna Tovar, Democrat, LD13
Chad Campbell, Democrat LD14
Debbie McCune Davis, Democrat LD14
Eddie Farnsworth, Republican, LD22
Steve Urie, Republican, LD22

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