Things are looking up for Rep. Richard Andrade.
Despite a bitterly contested, ugly primary, early results show the incumbent Legislative District 29 Democrat sitting in second place in the district, with a seven point lead over challenger Teddy Castro.
Rep. Cesar Chavez, D-Phoenix, netted 45 percent of the votes counted so far, enough for a comfortable first place position and a 14-percentage point lead over Andrade. Castro is in third, with 24 percent of the vote.
Andrade is a central figure in an intra-party battle playing out between a powerful labor union and progressives in Democratic leadership. Revitalize Arizona, a PAC affiliated with Pipe Trades Local 469 and powerful labor attorney Israel Torres, invested more than $50,000 in campaign materials supporting Teddy Castro, a realtor hoping to nab Andrade’s seat. The group spent more than $10,000 against Andrade, himself a union member.
Torres saw the primary challenges as a form of accountability after mounting frustration with the inability of Democrats, who are in the minority, to deliver on labor legislation. But those at the receiving end of Torres-backed primary challengers, including Andrade, Rep. Athena Salman, D-Tempe, saw it as a bought-and-paid-for attempt to disrupt progressive leadership in the Legislature.
The outside support, however, is not looking to be enough for Castro to overcome either Chavez or Andrade’s incumbency advantages, so the deep-blue district seems like it will remain in the same hands for another two years.
It’s one of several races that Capitol observers saw as significant in determining leadership of the party as it looks to seize the majority in the House. Andrade is a close ally of House Minority Leader Charlene Fernandez, while Torres has made it clear that he wants to inject some fresh blood into House leadership.
Andrade has served in the Legislature since 2015. Chavez was elected in 2016.