Northern Arizona’s sprawling Legislative District 6 has long been considered one of the most crucial districts as Republicans fight to maintain control of the state Senate.
But Republicans in the district and in Phoenix fear that the general election could be decided as early as August 4. They view a primary victory by Sen. Sylvia Allen as their only shot at keeping the seat — and potentially the Senate majority.
Allen faces a tough primary race against frequent candidate Wendy Rogers, who has run and lost congressional campaigns in Tempe and northern Arizona in the past decade. Rogers has a formidable campaign war chest bolstered by years on the federal stage, and she has spent more than $450,000 on this primary race — far more than any other legislative candidate.
It remains to be seen whether money or history in the district — Allen’s family arrived in the White Mountain area in 1876 and she is so entrenched in district politics that county supervisors appointed her to replace two separate state senators who both died in horse accidents — will prevail. And whoever wins will face Democrat Felicia French, who came within 600 votes of winning a seat in the state House in 2018.
Retiring Rep. Bob Thorpe, a Flagstaff Republican who toyed with a primary challenge to Allen before deciding to run for a spot on the Coconino County Board of Supervisors, said he fears a Rogers primary victory would result in French becoming LD6’s next senator.
“I’ve heard people say that if you lose a campaign twice you’re finished,” Thorpe said. “She’s been doing it now for a decade. This will be the sixth time she’s running for office. In most cases, she loses the primary, but even when she wins the primary she’s never been able to win the general.”
In an appearance on 12 News’ “Sunday Squareoff” this week, former House Speaker Kirk Adams said it was entirely possible that Rogers wins the primary. She has a name ID in the district from multiple attempts at running for Congress, and she has spent enough money that Republican voters can’t avoid seeing her signs or broadcast ads.
“Could she win the general election, or hand that seat to the Democrats in the state Senate and maybe flip the Senate from Republican to Democrat? I think that’s the question that Republicans are beginning to ask themselves,” Adams said.
Fervent Allen supporter Dwight Kadar, who moved to rural Arizona in 2011 after living in Houston and working on Sen. Ted Cruz’s first campaign for office, said he thinks a Rogers victory would result in a Democratic win. And even if Allen pulls off a primary victory, she’ll head into the general election weaker because of having to fight off Rogers, Kadar said.
“We’ve watched with horror what has happened in what should be a Republican district, whether it’s LD6, the state district, or CD1, the Congressional District,” Kadar said. “She destroyed two other good Republican candidates, one in ‘16, and one in ‘18 for the congressional seat, only to lose to Tom O’Halloran in the general election. And now the same thing is happening all over again.”
In an emailed statement, Rogers said Allen’s supporters were smearing her.
“The swamp and the Democrats are terrified that I am going to win because I will stand up to them for you (which is why they are smearing me with lies and slander),” she said. “I don’t care about them, I care about you and the hard-working people of our district and ask for your vote. Together we can take back this state and help President Trump win in November.”