The committee whose goal is to extend Republicans’ dominance at the state Legislature has so far spent nearly $30,000 on the primary contest between Sen. Rich Crandall, R-Mesa, and Rep. John Fillmore, R-Apache Junction.
So far, the amount — $28,080 to be exact — makes up the biggest independent spending on a single legislative race.
The Republican Victory Fund’s latest report to the Secretary of State showed it spent roughly $14,000 to defeat Fillmore as of Aug. 8.
The two are vying for their party’s nomination in the race for the Senate in new Legislative District 16.
The independent group also spent about the same amount to help Crandall.
The group recently sent out mailers touting Crandall’s record and lambasting Fillmore, labeling the latter, for example, as a “liberal.”
The spending has upset several incumbent Republican senators, who expressed their dismay that the committee’s resources are being deployed to defeat a party-mate.
The senators wrote a letter to Senate President Steve Pierce to complain about it. But Pierce said while he has been raising money for the group, he has no control over how it spends its funds.
Meanwhile, independent spending has begun to pour into legislative races. Under the law, independent expenditure groups may not coordinate with candidates in races they’re engaged in.
Among the heavy hitters is the Washington-based American Federation for Children, which dropped more than $19,000 on mailers to support Democrat Maria Garcia, who is challenging incumbent Sen. Olivia Cajero-Bedford, a party-mate, in new Legislative District 3.
Garcia is the wife of the late senator Jorge Garcia, who was a former Senate Minority Leader.
Other campaign groups that are active include the Arizona Free Enterprise Club, a conservative, free market advocacy group, the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce Candidate Support Fund, and the Home Builders Association of Central Arizona.
So far, the bulk of the independent spending is meant to help, rather than defeat, candidates.
That could change as the primary election nears.