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Republicans backed by Brewer falter in LD23

Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, smiles as he addresses the legislature in the Arizona House of Representatives at the Arizona Capitol Monday, Jan. 13, 2014, in Phoenix. The Republican lawmaker wants the state constitution amended to allow cuts to public employee pensions and increases in employee contributions if the systems are badly underfunded. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, smiles as he addresses the legislature in the Arizona House of Representatives at the Arizona Capitol Monday, Jan. 13, 2014, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

The trio of Republican challengers backed by Gov. Jan Brewer in Legislative District 23 are faltering in their bids for a seat at the Capitol.

Scottsdale businessman Jeff Schwartz, endorsed by Brewer, trails in his bid for the Senate against Rep. John Kavanagh. The Fountain Hills Republican has 53.7 percent of the vote so far, while Schwartz has 46.1 percent with 70.1 percent of precincts reporting.

Support from Brewer and the business community has not been enough to bolster Schwartz against Kavanagh, a longtime lawmaker and chair of the House Appropriations Committee.

Independent expenditures shaped the LD23 Senate races, as political committees pumped nearly $98,000 into the district to advocate for Kavanagh’s defeat. Kavanagh was backed by roughly $48,000 in IE spending, while political committees spent more than $61,000 to support Schwartz.

In the House, four Scottsdale Republicans are facing off for the district’s two seats.

Effie Carlson and longtime Scottsdale City Councilman Bob Littlefield both have Brewer’s blessing, and both have been aided by her independent expenditure committee.

But Rep. Michelle Ugenti, who is seeking her third term in the House, is leading the race with 34.9 percent percent of the vote.

Longtime radio talk show host Jay Lawrence of Scottsdale is in the lead for the second seat with 24.8 percent of the vote, followed by Littlefield with 23 percent and Carlson with 17.2 percent.

Carlson spent almost $31,000 in her race, as of August 14, and has been boosted by more than $27,000 in spending by outside groups supporting her.

Ugenti spent $27,000 in her campaign, and was boosted by another $28,000 in spending by outside groups on her behalf.

Littlefield spent almost $25,000. Outside groups spent an additional $15,000 supporting him, while rivaling outside groups spent almost $12,000 opposing him.

Lawrence is the only publicly funded candidate, and has spent $26,000 on his campaign, which has been matched dollar-for-dollar by outside groups supporting him.

The winner of the Senate GOP primary will face Democrat Paula Pennypacker in the general election, although the district’s more than two-to-one Republican voter registration advantage makes her an underdog in that fight.

No Democrats are challenging the two winners of the House GOP primary in the district, which covers most of Scottsdale and Fountain Hills.

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