Arizona’s Legislature will have only a tinge of more blue.
For all the talk that 2018 would finally be the year Democrats would either split or gain majority in the Senate, the chamber will remain under GOP control, likely with a 17-13 split.
At least three Republican incumbents did fall to Democrats in the House, and depending on the outcome of one race, that chamber’s split could narrow to 31-29 from 35-25.
Republican Nora Ellen was behind Democrat Jennifer Pawlik as of November 8 in Legislative District 17, which includes Sun Lakes and parts of Chandler and Gilbert. Pawlik, a Chandler teacher attempting to ride the fervor around education to victory, was ahead by just about 400 votes.
House Republicans are preparing for the worst. When the GOP Caucus voted for House leadership on November 7, 31 current and presumed members voted.
Missing from those ranks were the three Republicans whose defeats were certain. Republican Reps. Todd Clodfelter of Tucson, Jill Norgaard of Phoenix and Maria Syms of Paradise Valley all were ousted incumbents, but the circumstances of their defeats don’t quite match the narrative of a Democratic resurgence and rejection of the status quo in the GOP.
Clodfelter has lost before in Legislative District 10, which was represented by two Democrats in 2012 and 2014 before he was elected in 2016. He fell behind incumbent Rep. Kirsten Engel and Democratic newcomer Domingo DeGrazia.
Norgaard’s district swung in favor of Democrats back in 2016, when two of Legislative District 18’s three seats at the Capitol were won by the minority party.
Newcomer Jennifer Jermaine continued that trend. The Chandler Democrat and Rep. Mitzi Epstein of Tempe defeated Norgaard by a comfortable margin.
Syms likely sealed her own fate in Legislative District 28 when she stirred up tension in her own party.
She was accused by fellow Republicans of sowing conflict when her husband, Mark Syms, sought to run against Republican Sen. Kate Brophy McGee as an independent. And she clashed with fellow Republican Kathy Pappas Petsas in a four-way campaign where the top two vote-getters are elected to the House.
Syms landed in third behind Democrats Rep. Kelli Butler and Aaron Lieberman.
Former Arizona teacher of the year Christine Marsh could give the Democrat’s some consolation with a victory in the LD28 Senate race.
But that would mean closing a sizeable gap between her and the incumbent, Brophy McGee.
The Phoenix Republican has always been a strong candidate in the competitive district, and could hold her lead, if not watch it grow thanks to a strong showing among day-of GOP voters in Maricopa County, where votes were still being counted as of November 8.
Elsewhere, Democrats will look back at opportunities lost.
Sen. Sylvia Allen, R-Snowflake, once again won re-election in northern Arizona’s LD6, where Democrat Wade Carlisle trailed by more than 1,000 votes.
And Democrat Steve Weichert failed to ride the anticipated blue wave in LD17, where House Speaker J.D. Mesnard, R-Chandler, handily won a race to succeed as the Republican senator from the East Valley.
The 54th Arizona Legislature will be a mix of old and new faces. The composition will include current lawmakers who cross the lawn at the Capitol to join the other chamber, 20 true freshman who won election to the Legislature for the first time, and former members who left office and will return.
Crossing over from House
Sally Ann Gonzales (D)
Vince Leach (R)
Eddie Farnsworth (R)
Heather Carter (R)
J.D. Mesnard (R)
Paul Boyer (R)
David Livingston (R)
Michelle Ugenti-Rita (R)
Lela Alston (D)
Rebecca Rios (D)
Tony Navarrete (D)
Victoria Steele (D)
David Gowan (R)
Tyler Pace (R)
Crossing over from Senate
Warren Petersen (R)
Gail Griffin (R)
Nancy Barto (R)
John Kavanagh (R)
Robert Meza (D)
John Fillmore (R)
Andres Cano (D)
Alma Hernandez (D)
Leo Biasiucci (R)
Walter Blackman (R)
Arlando Teller (D)
Myron Tsosie (D)
Domingo DeGrazia (D)
Bret Roberts (R)
Joanne Osborne (R)
Jennifer Pawlik (D) or Nora Ellen (R) [too close to call]
Jennifer Jermaine (D)
Lorenzo Sierra (D)
Shawnna Bolick (R)
Frank Carroll (R)
Jennifer Longdon (D)
Amish Shah (D)
Diego Rodriguez (D)
Aaron Lieberman (D)
Raquel Teran (D)