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Few contested primaries for independents to influence

From left are Nancy Barto and Heather Carter

From left are Nancy Barto and Heather Carter

Independent voters don’t have many contested races in Maricopa County in which they can sway the outcome with Arizona primary elections roughly two months away.

With every hot race like Sen. Heather Carter, R-Cave Creek, versus Rep. Nancy Barto, R-Phoenix, there are at least a dozen or so uncontested primaries on both the Democratic and Republican ballots this year in Maricopa County.

In the state Senate there are only five districts with a primary challenge, including the Barto and Carter race in Legislative District 15. Legislative District 22, on the Republican side, has Sen. David Livingston, the incumbent, against two opponents – Van Dicarlo and Hop Nguyen. Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita will face Alexander Kolodin in the Legislative District 23 Republican primary. On the Democratic side, Sen. Lela Alston faces Ryan Starzyk in Legislative District 24 and Sen. Juan Mendez will be challenged by Jana Lynn Granillo in Legislative District 26.

election-logo-2020The remaining Senate races either have candidates set to win the seat come November (barring a write-in campaign) or a one-on-one race that won’t matter for the primary.

In the House, 12 of the 20 districts in Maricopa County have a contested primary, meaning more than two candidates per party, and Legislative District 29 has contested primaries for both the Republicans and Democrats. Nine races are on the Republican side and the remaining four are for Democrats.

Both Legislative districts 1 and 15 will fill two vacancies as those current representatives either are termed out or retiring and several others have one open seat.

There are positives and negatives in not having a primary challenge as seen when Fred DuVal ran for governor in 2014, but there aren’t any races of that magnitude this election cycle.

Typically, the positives of no primary challenge is the ability to save money and resources for the general election race, but the negatives, if there is a competitive primary for the opposing party, are that all the attention will be on the opposing party’s ballot instead.

Independent voters can select which ballot they want to vote on during the primaries instead of having to re-register for a specific party like they would in a Presidential Preference Election. Currently, there are 1,249,379 registered voters listed under the “other” category according to April numbers from the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office.

Looking at other races on the August primary ballot, there is not a contested statewide contest, after four Republican candidates who intended to run for the Arizona Corporation Commission are no longer on the ballot. That leaves just two on the ballot with two others hoping for a write-in bid. For Democrats, only three are running for three seats.

The next major race in Maricopa County on the Democratic side is the primary for county attorney.

Rep. Diego Rodriguez, D-Phoenix, was the last Democrat to run for that seat, losing to now-Arizona Supreme Court Justice Bill Montgomery by the slimmest margin in years for that office.

Three Democrats are running to unseat Allister Adel, the Republican who the County Board of Supervisors appointed to replace Montgomery last fall. Adel does not face a primary challenger.

Republican county candidates see challenges in the race for county assessor, county treasurer, county recorder and county sheriff, and among the few races for constable and justice of the peace. Whereas Democrats only have challenges for justice of the peace races in the Maryvale and Moon Valley precincts.

Federal races are a different story.

Arizona currently has nine congressional districts and all but the 2nd Congressional District touches Maricopa County, and of those eight the 7th Congressional District is the only one without a primary challenge for either party.

The most-discussed challenges for Congress in Arizona are the Democrats in the 6th Congressional District to see who will take on Rep. David Schweikert, who has been drowning in legal fees over what he called “an accounting error.” Dr. Hiral Tipirneni leads that pack with the most fundraising of any congressional challenger in the state, and one of the top nationwide.

She lost twice to Rep. Debbie Lesko in the 2018 8th Congressional District special and general elections. Now Tipirneni will see Anita Malik, the CD6 Democratic nominee in 2018, and relative newcomers Stephanie Rimmer and Karl Gentles.

In the 1st Congressional District, Rep. Tom O’Halleran is being challenged by the more progressive Eva Putzova, and the Republican race is between Tiffany Shedd and Nolan Reidhead.

Rep. Paul Gosar, in the 4th Congressional District, is the only remaining incumbent facing a primary challenge in Anne Marie Ward.

Then there’s the most talked about race nationwide between likely foes U.S. Sen. Martha McSally and Mark Kelly.

McSally will see a Republican challenger who has failed to raise significant money and show up in any polls nationwide. Whereas Kelly is only looking at a write-in candidate who goes by “Heir Hawkeye.”

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