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Brnovich re-elected despite expensive attacks from clean energy group

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich (Photo by Katie Campbell/Arizona Capitol Times)

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich (Photo by Katie Campbell/Arizona Capitol Times)

Attorney General Mark Brnovich easily defeated Democratic rival January Contreras Tuesday, but his victory speech on Election Day made it seem like the real victory was against progressive billionaire Tom Steyer.

An onslaught of attack ads from the Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona campaign against Brnovich did not have their desired effect as he beat Contreras by more than 6 percentage points.

The clean energy campaign spent more than $3.6 million on television ads calling Brnovich “corrupt” and alleging the attorney general has a cozy relationship with Arizona Public Service — Arizona’s largest utility company and the chief opponent to Proposition 127.

Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona was backed by Steyer, a California progressive who may seek the Democratic nomination for president in 2020.

Brnovich had strong words for the California billionaire, closing out his speech with, “kiss my ass, Tom Steyer.”

But Brnovich made numerous digs at Steyer throughout his speech. His campaign party, located in the courtyard just outside the hotel where the Arizona GOP was having its Election Night watch party, even had a dunk tank where people could be dunked wearing Steyer masks.

“My mother can now watch ‘The Price is Right’ again,” Brnovich said. “She stopped watching because a California billionaire spent $6 million attacking me and my family.”

The pro-Prop. 127 group started spending against Brnovich when they discovered his office changed ballot language for the measure that would mandate that most electric utilities get at least 50 percent of their power from renewable energy sources by 2030.

Brnovich defended the language changes and in turn, sued the clean energy campaign for defamation over their attack ads against him.

In the attorney general’s race, Brnovich faced Contreras, a former assistant attorney general and adviser to former Gov. Janet Napolitano. While Contreras hit the campaign trail hard, the two candidates were unevenly matched when it came to name recognition.

Contreras outraised her opponent and picked up endorsements from Democratic heavyweights like former President Barack Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden, but it wasn’t enough to catapult her to victory.

Brnovich’s long term political path could take him beyond the Attorney General’s Office. Political pundits often list Brnovich as someone who could be a top contender for the Governor’s Office in 2022 when Gov. Doug Ducey, who is overwhelmingly leading his race, is termed out.

Attorney General race by the numbers
Early votes  

*Mark Brnovich:  53 percent

January Contreras: 47 percent

* Denotes incumbent

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