Despite prospects for a 15-15 Senate, voters keep the status quo

Ben Giles//November 11, 2016//

Despite prospects for a 15-15 Senate, voters keep the status quo

Ben Giles//November 11, 2016//

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After all the talk of a split state Senate, with Republicans and Democrats evenly matched in voting power, the status quo reigned supreme.

Democrats are holding out hope that ongoing vote counts in Legislative Districts 6 and 28 break in their favor, but it’s more than likely the Senate will split 17-13 in Republican favor – the same count as in three of the past four years.

Republicans briefly gained 18 members in the Senate after Sen. Carlyle Begay of Ganado left the Democratic Party to join his colleagues on the right. But Begay ran for Congress instead of re-election to the state Senate, allowing Democrats an easy victory in Legislative District 7, a sprawling northern Arizona district that’s a Democratic stronghold. The district leans so far in Democrats’ favor that even had Begay run as a GOP incumbent, he would’ve faced an uphill battle for re-election.

Having secured LD7, Democrats looked to four races as opportunities to gain further ground in the Senate: a 14th and perhaps 15th vote.

Instead, Republicans and Democrats have simply swapped seats in LD8 and LD18.

Sen. Barb McGuire, D-Kearney, lost to Rep. Frank Pratt, a Casa Grande Republican who is termed out in the House. Pratt’s name ID and popularity in a district that votes Republican, despite its slight Democratic voter registration advantage, likely led to McGuire’s defeat in LD8.

McGuire’s loss essentially doomed Democrats’ chances of a split Senate – giving up any ground meant the minority party had the near-impossible task of sweeping three other races.

Political newcomer Sean Bowie did his part in LD18, where he was the apparent winner in a district that leans Republican. Bowie, a Phoenix Democrat, bested Frank Schmuck, a Republican and Air Force veteran from Tempe.

In the two remaining races to watch, Republicans ruled the day once again.

Sen. Sylvia Allen, R-Snowflake, overcame an Election Night deficit to take a commanding lead overDemocrat Nikki Bagley in LD6. And Rep. Kate Brophy McGee, R-Phoenix, has gradually increased her lead over Rep. Eric Meyer, D-Paradise Valley, as votes are counted in the LD28 Senate race.