The competitive race that many expected in Arizona’s 3rd Congressional District never materialized as GOP nominee Ben Quayle earned a double-digit win.
What little polling there was on the race showed Democrat Jon Hulburd with a slim lead within the margin of error, and many Democrats believed Quayle’s primary victory gave them an inroad into the conservative, northcentral Phoenix-based district.
But Quayle, the son of former Vice President Dan Quayle, took a commanding lead and never relinquished it.
Quayle tallied nearly 80,000 votes to Hulburd’s 62,000. The 33-year-old attorney’s win established the famous Quayle name in Arizona and kept Republicans in control of the Republican-leaning district, which is being vacated by 16-year incumbent Rep. John Shadegg.
“Well, tonight was a great night, but I want to say thank you first to all of the voters in CD3 who have put the confidence in me to represent them in Washington. I’m going to do my best and work my hardest to make sure that I live up to their expectations,” Quayle said in his victory speech at the Arizona Republican Party’s election night party.
The win dashes Democratic hopes for making a rare pickup in an otherwise grim year. What little polling had been publicly released on the race showed Hulburd ahead of Quayle within the margin of error.f
Hulburd, an attorney and businessman, ran a chippy race in one of Arizona’s most conservative congressional districts. The Democrat’s centrist positions on issues like tax cuts and illegal immigration, combined with a scandal over Quayle’s ties to a raunchy, sex-themed website, gave Democrats a glimmer of hope.
But Quayle, who won a 10-way GOP primary in August, pulled through again. He raised more than $2 million for his campaign, largely with the help of his father’s deep fundraising network.
Hulburd declined to speak with most media outlets after conceding the race. Spokesman Josh Abner blamed the Republican wave that swept the GOP into power in the U.S. House of Representatives for Hulburd’s defeat.
“We thought it was going to be very close,” Abner said. “It’s clear that there was a Republican wave nationwide. That wave crested in the state of Arizona and we were swept up in it.”
Hulburd ran a tighter race than most Democrats who had campaigned in Arizona’s 3rd Congressional District during the past decade. Republicans in the district outnumber Democrats by about 50,000.
But Hulburd’s moderate views and frequent criticism of Quayle’s ties to TheDirty.com and Quayle’s lack of political experience weren’t enough for Democrats to pick up the seat in the midst of a nationwide Republican landslide.
Hulburd raised more than $1 million and put $500,000 of his own money into his campaign in the final weeks before the election. He got no support, however, from major national Democratic groups, which were stretched thin in their attempts to protect scores of vulnerable House incumbents across the country, including four in Arizona.
“Jon said he wanted to run a race with no regrets and that’s certainly how we feel. There were macro-level issues that were out of our hands. And that’s clear tonight,” Abner said.
Quayle quickly became the favorite in his hotly contested primary after jumping into an already crowded GOP field in February. But just weeks before the Aug. 24 primary, the owner of TheDirty.com, a racy website that lampoons nightclub culture, claimed that Quayle co-founded the site and had been a frequently contributor of crass, often sexist material.
The bad press from the website scandal didn’t hurt Quayle as much as some expected, and he won the primary with 23 percent of the vote. The website was fodder for several Hulburd campaign ads, but he was unable to convince enough Republicans to cross party lines.
Quayle maintains he only posted satirical comments on the site, though he did introduce the owner to an intellectual property lawyer.