There were some big surprises last night: Chris Deschene toppled Sam Wercinski on the Democratic side of the secretary of state race; Cloves Campbell Jr. lost his House seat; and David Braswell got whomped by Lori Klein in the Legislative District 6 Senate race.
We all watched in amazement as Jesse Kelly beat Jonathan Paton in Arizona’s 8th Congressional District.
But nothing sent bigger shockwaves across the Valley than Ben Quayle’s win in Arizona’s 3rd Congressional District. It’s impossible to say definitively whether he came from behind in the final week leading up to the primary election or if he was leading all along.
In the weeks leading up to the primary election, the mud started flying amongst the front-running CD3 candidates. Whether that had an effect on the outcome of this race is still a matter of debate.
“I think some of the negative campaigning worked,” Waring said. “Ben (Quayle) took some shots at us – if that made a difference, I’m not sure.”
Waring, who mostly stayed away from attack ads, said he ran a “crisp, positive” campaign. “I had no desire to attack my opponents,” he said.
Many of the campaigns in CD3 had written off Quayle as a third- or fourth-place finisher after Quayle’s campaign sent out a mailer that may have went too far in depicting him as a family man and his highly publicized debacle with the racy website dirtyscottsdale.com (now called thedirty.com).
Vernon Parker was considered viable in the final days leading up to the election – at least according to many political insiders. The Parker campaign did call attention to the disputed mailer, although Parker draws a distinction between mud-slinging and calling attention to facts.
“I really believe voters needed to know what their congressperson would do for them,” Parker said on primary night. “I believe in truthful comparisons. When a campaign puts out something they know is untrue, that’s despicable.”
Waring was considered by many to be a favorite in the race after news outlets reported that rival candidate Steve Moak had used his charity organization to promote products sold by a for-profit company he once owned.
As Moak trailed both Waring and Quayle early on primary night, he said he was happy with how his campaign was conducted. “I think we ran a good campaign. Looking back, I wouldn’t have done anything different,” he said.
None of that matters now though, as Quayle has wrapped up the Republican nomination to take on Democrat Jon Hulburd in the November general election.
It’s a scenario that Democrats were hoping for – figuring, perhaps, that Quayle would be more vulnerable to attacks than many of the other GOP candidates in the district.
But it’s still going to take a lot to drag down Quayle to within striking distance in the Republican-leaning district. And it’s still not clear whether Hulburd has the juice to make it a competitive race.
We’ll soon see if national Democrats think it’s a race worth throwing money at – the word is that they’ve rejected Hulburd’s requests for cash so far. If you see Hulburd’s campaign coffers grow significantly, you can bet that the party thinks Quayle is vulnerable. If not, another Quayle is almost certainly going to wind up in federal office.
-Matt Bunk and Josh Coddington