Cajero Bedford long run in Legislature over

Olivia Cajero Bedford
Olivia Cajero Bedford

The Cajero dynasty in the Arizona Legislature has ended after more than 40 years.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting in Pima County, Sen. Olivia Cajero Bedford, who was running for one of two vacant House seats in South Tucson’s Legislative District 3, has been defeated.

First-time candidate Andres Cano led in the three-way race and political newcomer Alma Hernandez took the second spot in the Democratic primary. Unofficial results show Cajero Bedford fell short of the second spot by just 332 votes.

Cajero Bedford, who has served in the Legislature for 16 years, was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2003, where she served for eight years. She has served in the state Senate since 2011 and is termed out this year.

Minus a six-year absence between 1996 and 2003, this marks the first time in more than four decades that a Cajero is not in the Legislature. Her parents, Bernardo “Nayo” Cajero and Carmen Cajero, served in the House for 28 years.

Cano has served as Pima County Board of Supervisor Richard Elias’s community liaison since 2012, and he served as Elias’s campaign manager in 2012 and 2016.

Hernandez, the sister of Rep. Daniel Hernandez, who represents neighboring Legislative District 2, works in the public health field. She led Arizonans United for Healthcare, working to defeat the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

Cano and Hernandez will face off in the Nov. 6 general election against Beryl Baker, the Green Party candidate, who ran unopposed in the primary.

LD3 House By The Numbers

28,105 votes cast


Olivia Cajero Bedford 32.05 percent

Andres Cano 34.72 percent

Alma Hernandez 33.23 percent


Beryl Baker 100 Percent


David Garcia clinches Democratic gubernatorial nomination

Democratic gubernatorial nominee David Garcia gives a victory speech after winning a three-way Democratic primary challenge Tuesday. Garcia, who will take on Gov. Doug Ducey in the governor's race, spoke to more than a hundred supporters packed into a Phoenix bar and restaurant. PHOTO BY CARMEN FORMAN/ARIZONA CAPITOL TIMES
Democratic gubernatorial nominee David Garcia gives a victory speech after winning a three-way Democratic primary challenge Tuesday. Garcia, who will take on Gov. Doug Ducey in the governor’s race, spoke to more than a hundred supporters packed into a Phoenix bar and restaurant. PHOTO BY CARMEN FORMAN/ARIZONA CAPITOL TIMES

Long hyped as the frontrunner in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, David Garcia cruised to victory Tuesday, earning the chance to take on Gov. Doug Ducey this fall.

Garcia, a professor at Arizona State University and former Superintendent of Public Instruction candidate, defeated state Sen. Steve Farley and activist Kelly Fryer to win the Democratic nomination.

Garcia ran to the left of Farley in the primary, showing off a side of himself that was not seen in his 2014 campaign for superintendent of public instruction – a race he lost to Diane Douglas by about 16,000 votes.

He was the first Democrat to jump into the governor’s race and consistently led in the polls.

In a rousing victory speech at a Phoenix bar and restaurant, Garcia said the primary election results show Arizonans are turning away from the agenda of Ducey and President Donald Trump in favor of a new vision for the state.

“Arizona made a choice,” he said. “They said we are ready for vision over division. We want hope over fear. We want trust over dishonesty and as of today, the Trump/Arpaio/Ducey playbook. … That playbook is coming to an end.”

Even with strong Democratic tailwinds, Garcia now faces a tough battle to unseat the incumbent governor.

Garcia’s path to victory already appears arduous. Ducey, with his massive war chest and financial support from the Republican Governors Association, will blanket the airwaves with advertisements touting the governor’s re-election bid. The RGA has already put down $9.2 million in ad time to prevent a Democrat from winning the governorship.

But in front of a packed audience Tuesday, Garcia dismissed the attack ads as deceptive and dishonest.

It is not going to work this time because all the money in the world, all the slick ads, all the dishonest ads are not going to help us forget that our schools are still in crisis,” he said.

The RGA fired back at Garcia on Tuesday, characterizing him as part of the “radical far-left” wing of the Democratic Party.

Garcia ran as an unabashed progressive by calling for free college tuition and a total overhaul of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency amid comparisons to former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

Citing Garcia’s calls to revamp ICE and his support for a ballot initiative that would boost renewable energy requirements in the state, RGA spokesman Jon Thompson called Garcia’s political agenda too expensive for the state.

“David Garcia’s radical agenda would be a dangerous disaster for Arizona,” he said.

In the governor’s race, Garcia and Democratic groups are unlikely to have anywhere near as much spending power as Ducey and his allies.

But if elected, Garcia would be Arizona’s second Hispanic governor, following Raul Castro who served more than four decades ago.

All three candidates support the Invest in Education Act and vowed to undo Ducey’s Border Strike Force, if elected.

With teachers fired up by the “Red for Ed” movement, the democratic gubernatorial candidates tried desperately to capture as much of the education vote as possible in the lead up to the primary. Education funding was often a hot topic of debate at most of the debates and forums in which the candidates participated.

Garcia jumped into the governor’s race last year after Ducey signed legislation to create universal vouchers. Garcia was so incensed by the action that he characterized as a major blow to public education in Arizona that he set his sights on ousting Ducey. Garcia sees raising taxes on the state’s wealthiest residents as the key to funneling more money into K-12 education.

After his win Tuesday, Garcia hearkened back to Ducey’s voucher expansion. That was the end of the public education as Arizonans knew it, he said.

“If you take away one thing from this night, I want you to remember this,” Garcia said. “We will never have a governor more committed to public education than me.”

Democrats are increasingly fired up this election cycle. With President Donald Trump in the White House and Arizona teachers demanding their voices be heard, Democrats are hoping they can turn that liberal outrage into enough votes to oust Ducey from the governor’s office.

But in a deeply conservative state like Arizona, Democrats don’t have a great track record of winning statewide office. Janet Napolitano, the state’s last Democratic governor, was elected in 2002.

In light of Sen. John McCain’s death, Garcia vowed to limit his campaigning on Wednesday and Thursday as the late senator is honored at the Capitol and at a memorial service.

Democratic Gubernatorial Primary

By The Numbers

Early votes

Steve Farley: 34 percent

David Garcia: 49 percent

Kelly Fryer:  17 percent

Doug Ducey easily defeats Bennett, wins GOP nomination

Gov. Doug Ducey (Photo by Gage Skidmore/Flickr)
Gov. Doug Ducey (Photo by Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

Gov. Doug Ducey easily brushed off an intraparty challenge from former Secretary of State Ken Bennett Tuesday.

Early voting totals shows the governor — an Arizona GOP darling who is seeking a second, four-year term — ran away with the Republican nomination.

Leading up to the primary, Ducey largely ignored his primary opponent as Bennett desperately tried to wage an uphill battle against the incumbent governor with a massive war chest.

Approximately 20 minutes after the first election results posted, Ducey put out a statement claiming victory and thanking voters for their continued support, but also looking ahead to the general election.

“Now we must come together again to ensure we build on the significant gains of the last three years to secure Arizona’s future,” he said in a statement. “I look forward to the campaign ahead in the weeks and months to come.

Ducey will face Democrat David Garcia in the general election

In what was either a testament to the non competitive nature of Ducey’s primary challenge or the strength of Ducey as a candidate, Vice President Mike Pence congratulated the governor on his primary win Tuesday — before any election results were released. He later deleted his tweet, likely upon realizing his congratulations were premature.

Bennett called Ducey to concede shortly after the race was called, said Christine Bauserman, Bennett’s campaign manager.

He, like Ducey, said it was time to present a united Republican front going into the general election, Bauserman said.

“Now is the time to come together to keep the state Republican,” she said.

Bennett angered establishment Republicans when he jumped into the race this spring, fresh off the heels of the “Red for Ed” teachers’ strike. Bennett repeatedly criticized Ducey for “caving” to the teachers and denounced the governor’s proposed school safety plan to prevent gun violence in schools.

But Ducey kept Bennett at arm’s length by refusing to debate him and often glossing over his primary opponent in interviews and at campaign events. 

Bennett failed to qualify for Clean Elections funding before the primary, which would have given him the resources to speak to a broader swath of Republican voters ahead of the primary.

However, Bennett did get one small victory on Tuesday as he turned in his $5 Clean Elections contributions to the secretary of state’s office. He turned in his Clean Elections contributions after a Maricopa County Superior Court judge compelled the secretary of state’s office to reopen the online contribution portal after Bennett was shorted about four hours of contribution time.

Bennett invoked the ire of Ducey and many high-ranking Arizona Republicans in June when he vowed not to appoint Cindy McCain to her husband’s U.S. Senate seat, implying months before John McCain died, that Ducey would appoint Cindy McCain to the seat.

In his gubernatorial bid, Bennett cast himself as an anti-establishment Republican in the mold of President Donald Trump — an odd choice for a longtime politician who served in the state Senate before being elected secretary of state.

He unsuccessfully sought the Republican gubernatorial nomination in 2014. He came in fourth in the six-way primary race that Ducey won.

Ducey clinched Trump’s endorsement Monday.

Now, all that stands between Ducey and a second term is the winner of a three-way Democratic primary for governor. But in the wake of McCain’s death, Ducey has temporarily put off campaigning as the state and the nation honors Arizona’s senior senator.

The Democratic Governors Association came out swinging against Ducey after he clinched the GOP nomination.

Ducey spent his first term undermining Arizona’s future by poorly allocating K-12 education funding, supporting plans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act and cozying up to special interest groups that pour millions into his campaign, said DGA Executive Director Elisabeth Pearson.

The Republican Governors Association is planning to spend at least $9.2 million to propel Ducey to a second term. The RGA is trying to bail Ducey out, Pearson said.

“Doug Ducey is in electoral trouble — and he knows it,” she said in a statement.

Republican Gubernatorial Primary

By The Numbers

Votes cast: 510,322

Doug Ducey: 70.5 percent

Ken Bennett: 29.5 percent

Few survive as political baggage weighs them down

Rep. David Stringer and former House Speaker David Gowan
Rep. David Stringer and former House Speaker David Gowan

Some candidates with varying degrees of political baggage proved more adept at second chances than others.

Rep. David Stringer and former House Speaker David Gowan advanced to November after securing the Republican nomination in their respective legislative races. Their past actions may have given some voters pause, but not nearly enough to keep them from winning on August 28.

In the case of Stringer, R-Prescott, and Gowan, a Sierra Vista Republican, their primary victories all but assured that they will return to the Capitol, as both Republicans are running in districts with strong GOP voter registration advantages.

Others who faced similar scrutiny for their behavior did not fare so well.

Voters rejected Rep. Paul Mosley, R-Lake Havasu City, in his re-election bid in Legislative District 5 after police body camera footage showed him boasting to a La Paz County sheriff’s deputy about driving well in excess of highway speed limits in March.

Tim Jeffries lost to Rep. Michelle Ugenti-Rita in the race for the LD23 Senate seat acing criticism over his tenure as director of the Department of Economic Security, a job he was fired from amid reports that he fired hundreds of state workers and used a state plane to fly to Nogales to celebrate with employees who gave up their job protections.

And former legislator Don Shooter, who was expelled from the House of Representatives in February following an investigation that concluded he sexually harassed colleagues and lobbyists at the Capitol, was soundly rejected by voters in the LD13 GOP primary for the Senate.

The reasons for their defeat seem obvious.

Shooter faced steep odds from the start given that his colleagues in the House of Representatives ousted him after an investigation substantiated most of the sexually-charged misconduct allegations against him.

In addition to reports of his ouster at DES, Jeffries faced a competitive three-way primary against incumbent Rep. Michelle Ugenti-Rita and a political newcomer.

Mosley’s troubles were the most recent, perhaps making his the most damaging.

“He was a victim of very, very bad judgment and very, very bad timing, which in politics makes for a very, very bad outcome,” said lobbyist Barry Dill.

The story of Mosley’s heavy foot resonated in the local news coverage of the traffic stop in ways that don’t always occur in more rural districts, Dill said. Often, a disconnect exists between the way a story is reported in metro Phoenix or Tucson and how it is portrayed at smaller news outlets.

“The scandals, if that’s what you want to call them, don’t necessarily affect candidates outside of metropolitan areas where local officials rule the day,” he said.

Campaign consultant Constantin Querard, who worked with Gowan and Stringer, said voters in more rural districts interpret messages and stories differently than the media in major markets like Phoenix. And while GOP leaders called for Stringer’s resignation after he told a GOP gathering in June that there are “not enough white kids to go around” in Arizona’s public schools, voters in LD1 understood the message that Querard said Stringer was trying to get across – immigration without assimilation is unhealthy.

“Stringer’s trouble came because he said something lots of other people have said, but he said it very badly,” Querard said.

While the media went on a feeding frenzy, Querard said the average voter “understands pretty easily if they like what you’ve said but understand that you said it badly. That’s not a capital crime.”

Pundits on Twitter may have piled on Gowan for his past struggles as speaker – Gowan repaid the state $12,000 that he had wrongfully received as reimbursement and his administration was the subject of two investigations that led to strong rebukes, but no criminal charges, from the attorney general – but he resonated as a true “citizen legislator” who works multiple jobs to provide for his family while also vying for the part time job as a state senator.

Gowan’s relationships in his community cut through the news coverage and political spending against him, Querard said.

“You connect to your neighbors more because frankly, you depend on your neighbors more. There’s a greater sense of community because you need your community,” Querard said. “It’s a lot more difficult to lie about somebody down there because they know that person.”

The latest available campaign finance reports show that Gowan overcame tens of thousands of dollars in outside spending that attacked his record and sought, but failed, to prop up his opponent, Rep. Drew John.

“He’s probably outspent five to one, with the media against him, and wins,” Querard said. “The voters are obviously figuring some stuff out despite what they’re being told.”

Former lawmaker John Fillmore on his way back to Capitol

Rep. John Fillmore, R-Apache Junction (Cronkite News Service photo)
John Fillmore (Cronkite News Service photo)

Former Rep. John Fillmore, a one-term lawmaker from Apache Junction who served from 2011-12, could be returning to the state Capitol.

Early voting poll results show that Fillmore and Rep. Kelly Townsend, R-Mesa, have taken a lead in the five-way GOP primary for the two House seats in Legislative District 16.

Three other Republicans, Lisa Godzich, Stephen Kridler, and Tara Phelps, are also vying for the Republican nomination, hoping to replace Rep. Doug Coleman, who is running for justice of the peace.

Godzich, a respiratory therapist, is the second vice-chair of the LD16 GOP committee. She serves on U.S. Congressman Andy Biggs’ Veterans Affairs Committee and is also a board member of the Mesa Republican Women.

Kridler is a U.S. Air Force veteran and a retired law enforcement office, who served 15 years with the Apache Junction Police Department.

Phelps, an Arizona native and mother of five, received a bachelor’s degree in business and supply chain management from Arizona State University. She is a small business owner.

The winners of the primary will face off in the Nov. 6 general election against Democrat Sharon Stinard, who ran in the Democratic primary unopposed. Green Party candidate Richard Grayson is running as a write-in candidate, and in order to qualify for the general election, Grayson must receive at least as many votes as the number of signatures required to qualify for the ballot in that district.

LD16 House By The Numbers

Early votes  


Kelly Townsend 33 Percent

John Fillmore 23 Percent

Lisa Godzich 20 Percent

Stephen Kridler 9 Percent

Tara Phelps 15 Percent


Sharon Stinard 100 Percent

Greg Patterson takes step in political comeback

Greg Patterson (Photo by Howard Fischer/Capitol Media Services)
Greg Patterson (Photo by Howard Fischer/Capitol Media Services)

Former lawmaker and Arizona Board of Regents chairman Greg Patterson is one step closer to a political comeback.

Unofficial results show that Patterson and incumbent Rep. Jill Norgaard secured the top two spots in the GOP primary for two House seats in Legislative District 18.

Patterson previously served in the Arizona House of Representatives from 1991-94.

Most recently, he served as a regent, overseeing the state’s three public universities.

Patterson resigned from his post in 2017, after five years on the board, after a report chronicled a secretly-recorded meeting in which he mocked a state lawmaker.

During a February 2017 meeting between the board and Rep. Mark Finchem, Patterson berated and ridiculed Finchem over his legislative proposal to scale back the authority of the Board of Regents.

Frustrated by criticisms of the board, Patterson stormed out of the meeting attended by Finchem, Norgaard and then-Regents President Eileen Klein. But before he left, he mocked Finchem’s Western-style attire.

Details of that meeting only came to light because Patterson secretly recorded the meeting, a copy of which was obtained by the Arizona Republic through a public records request.

Norgaard and Patterson will face off in the Nov. 6 general election against Rep. Mitzi Epstein and Jennifer Jermaine, who defeated LaDawn Stuben in the Democratic primary.

Republicans hold a small voter registration advantage in the district, which spans parts of Phoenix, including Ahwatukee, and parts of Chandler, Tempe and Mesa.

LD18 House By The Numbers

28,883 votes cast  


Jill Norgaard 44 percent

Don Hawker 12 percent

Greg Patterson 25 percent

Farhana Shifa 19 percent



Denise “Mitzi” Epstein 44 percent

Jennifer Jermaine 38 percent

LaDawn Stuben 19 percent

Hoffman victorious in schools chief Democratic primary

Democratic candidate for superintendent of public instruction Kathy Hoffman chats with Republican candidate Frank Riggs during the Arizona Capitol Times' Meet the Candidates event. PHOTO BY KATIE CAMPBELL/ARIZONA CAPITOL TIMES
Democratic candidate for superintendent of public instruction Kathy Hoffman chats with Republican candidate Frank Riggs during the Arizona Capitol Times’ Meet the Candidates event. PHOTO BY KATIE CAMPBELL/ARIZONA CAPITOL TIMES

Kathy Hoffman shocked political observers across the state during the Aug. 28 primary as she pulled off a victory in the Democratic primary race for Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Hoffman came out ahead with a slim lead over challenger David Schapira in early ballot returns, and held it through the night. It is currently unclear who she will face in the Nov. 6 general election as the Republican primary is still too close to call.

In a text shared by Hoffman’s spokeswoman Emily Brent, Schapira congratulated Hoffman.

“Looks good for you so far,” he wrote, according to the message shared with the Arizona Capitol Times. “Congratulations! We’ll talk tomorrow.”

Speaking briefly to the Capitol Times from her watch party, Hoffman described her excitement at seeing a green checkmark beside her name, indicating a win called by a local TV station. She said she was elated and honored to continue to the general election.

As a speech therapist in Arizona public schools, Hoffman has appealed to the post-Red for Ed enthusiasm on the left. Her former campaign manager, Noah Karvelis, led that movement, and she stood behind the teachers, frequently rallying with them at the Capitol.

Schapira did too, a fact that speaks to what has been one of the most significant challenges in the Democratic primary race: distinguishing one candidate from the other.

Hoffman and Schapira held many of the same beliefs about Arizona’s public education system and efforts to increase school funding, including through the Invest in Education Act initiative seeking to raise taxes to pump up dollars for public education. Instead, they focused largely on the differences in their backgrounds – Hoffman with her greater experience in the classroom, and Schapira with his time in a variety of administrative and elected positions.

Hoffman’s frontlines message appears to have won the day, but she still faces a tough road ahead as a Democrat seeking statewide office.

A Republican has held the seat for more than 20 years. But with the momentum of the Red for Ed movement still fueling the conversation around education in Arizona, political observers foresee a competitive general election contest for the seat.

Superintendent of Public Instruction By The Numbers


415,434 votes cast

Kathy Hoffman 53 percent

David Schapira 47 percent


486,978 votes cast

Diane Douglas 21.49 percent

Bob Branch 21.79 percent

Frank Riggs 21.94 percent

Jonathan Gelbart 14.77 percent

Tracy Livingston 20.02 percent

Incumbent Mitchell loses LD13 Republican House primary

Rep. Darin Mitchell, R-Litchfield Park, said requiring Arizona Department of Corrections officers to be U.S. citizens would help ease unemployment in his district, which stretches to Yuma. (Cronkite News Service Photo by Juan Magaña)
Rep. Darin Mitchell, R-Litchfield Park. (Cronkite News Service Photo by Juan Magaña)

Incumbent Rep. Darin Mitchell fell short in his bid for a return to the Arizona House of Representatives.

Rep. Tim Dunn, R-Yuma, and Joanne Osborne defeated the Goodyear Republican and his running mate Trey Terry in the Aug. 28 GOP primary for the two House seats in Legislative District 13.

Mitchell, a realtor, was first elected to the House in 2013.

Dunn and Osborne will face off in the Nov. 6 general election against Democrat Thomas Tzitzura, who ran unopposed in the Democratic primary.

However, Tzitzura isn’t likely to pose a threat to either Republican in November. Republicans hold a healthy voter registration advantage in the district, which includes the northern part of Yuma County and the northwestern part of Maricopa County.

LD13 House By The Numbers

35,064 votes cast


Timothy “Tim” Dunn 37 percent

Darin Mitchell 21 percent

Joanne Osborne 24 percent

Trey Terry 19 percent


9,324 votes cast

Thomas Tzitzura 100 percent

Is it time to retire the political campaign pivot?

The primaries are in the rearview mirror, general election campaigns are well underway, and candidates are reshaping their messaging for general election voters.

Sometimes the pivot is believable. Other times, not so much.

But isn’t it time to retire this tradition?  Shouldn’t we know which version of the candidate we’re really voting for?

The need to pivot is created by an election system that essentially ignores the interest of most Arizona voters. Partisan primaries force candidates to cater to base voters. Independent voters are underrepresented, yet they’re the ones who decide the general election. A candidate has to say one thing in the primary, then a few weeks later convince independent and swing voters they don’t really believe those things.

Sybil Francis

In short, candidates who emerge from the primaries got there by a process that is not representative of the general electorate.  Hence, the need to pivot.

When elected officials fail to represent the people, disdain for government grows.

Have you stopped to ask yourself why elections work this way?  And, maybe more importantly, does it have to be this way?

Surveys commissioned by the Center for the Future of Arizona underscore the gaps between what Arizona voters care about and what candidates talk about on the campaign trail. These surveys consistently find that most Arizonans agree on the most demanding challenges facing our state and want pragmatic solutions. The recent survey that resulted in the Arizona Voters’ Agenda is a prime example.

The survey found majorities of Arizona voters want to hear candidates talk about plans and solutions for our most pressing problems. They don’t care about politics and ideology.

They want candidates to share how they will:

Candidates for office or even elected leaders won’t change their campaign strategies unless we change the way we elect them.  We need a system in which every vote counts; one that encourages and rewards candidates who appeal to what most Arizonans want from their elected leaders.

A few examples of alternative ways to run elections are getting attention:

  • Instead of party primaries, some states use open primaries. All candidates – Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, independents – are listed on a single ballot. In Washington, California, Nebraska, and Louisiana, the top-two vote-getters advance to the general election. In other states, four candidates advance. They can be of the same party or different parties. Open primaries can lead to candidates with broader appeal to the entire electorate. A USC study in 2020 found that this approach produced less extreme lawmakers.
  • Open primaries are sometimes used in tandem with another option: Ranked-choice elections, in which all candidates run on the same ballot and voters rank them from their first choice to their last. If a candidate wins a majority, they are the winner. If no one reaches a majority, the candidate with the fewest first-choice votes is eliminated, and the second-choice votes on those ballots are counted. This continues until someone wins a majority. Maine uses this system statewide, and cities or counties in another 12 states (including Utah, New Mexico, and Colorado) use it or are preparing to.
  • Redesigning the redistricting processes also allows elections to be more competitive and representative of voters. This could include giving independents equal representation on the citizen’s redistricting commission. And should the commission’s first priority be to create competitive districts, rather than putting that goal at the bottom of the list, where it currently is?

Do any of these reforms make sense for Arizona? Are there others we should consider? And most importantly: What is the best way to put “the pivot” behind us and elect leaders more closely aligned with the hopes and aspirations of the majority of Arizonans and who will provide pragmatic solutions to our most pressing priorities?

As we consider more representative systems of electing our leaders, please make sure to vote on Nov. 8! Your vote matters!

Sybil Francis is president & CEO of Center for the Future of Arizona, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that brings Arizonans together to create a stronger and brighter future for our state.

Lesko wins CD8 GOP primary

Debbie Lesko (Photo by Katie Campbell/Arizona Capitol Times)
Debbie Lesko (Photo by Katie Campbell/Arizona Capitol Times)

U.S. Representative Debbie Lesko has easily won the Republican nomination to keep her Congressional seat after pulling far ahead of her sole challenger, Sandra Dowling.

With her place in the race for Arizona’s 8th Congressional District secured, Lesko is now heading to a repeat of the special election held earlier this year. She’ll face off once again against Democrat Hiral Tipirneni, who did not have a primary challenger in the Aug. 30 primary.

While Lesko won the special election to replace former U.S. Rep. Trent Franks in April, she did so by a smaller margin than expected in a district that has been reliably conservative for years.

Lesko defeated Tipirneni by just 5 percentage points, and a rematch in the Nov. 6 general election may end in equally tight margins.

Arizona’s 8th Congressional District

79,955 votes cast


Debbie Lesko 77 percent

Sandra Dowling 23 percent


44,580 votes cast

Hiral Tipirneni 100 percent

Newcomers take lead in LD24 House Dem primary

Rep. Ken Clark explains Thursday why he believes a description for voters of a ballot measures on changes to the Citizens Clean Elections Commission is biased. (Capitol Media Services photo by Howard Fischer)
Rep. Ken Clark explains (Capitol Media Services photo by Howard Fischer)

Two political newcomers ousted two-term lawmaker Rep. Ken Clark from the state Legislature.

First-time candidates Amish Shah and Jennifer Longdon received the most votes in the seven-way Democratic primary for the two House seats in Legislative District 24.

Unofficial results show that Clark fell short of the second spot in the Democratic primary by 703 votes.

Four other candidates, John Glenn, ran on a slate with Clark, Fred Dominguez, Marcus Ferrell, and Denise Link, were also in the running for the Democratic nomination to fill the seat being vacated by Rep. Lela Alston, who is running for the Senate.

Shah, a Chicago native, is a doctor specializing in emergency medicine and sports medicine. He founded the Arizona Vegetarian Food Festival to promote healthy eating and the festival is now in its third year.

Longdon has worked on various campaigns promoting gun violence prevention efforts after she was paralyzed in a random shooting in 2004. She helped organize the state’s largest gun buy-back program, was past president of Arizonans for Gun Safety, and served on the City of Phoenix’s Commission on Disability Issues and the Arizona Statewide Independent Living Council.

Longdon and Shah will face off in the Nov. 6 general election against Republican David Alger, Sr., who ran unopposed in the Republican primary.

Alger isn’t likely to pose a threat to either Democratic nominee given that Democrats outnumber Republicans nearly two to one in the district, which includes parts of central Phoenix and south Scottsdale.

LD24 House By The Numbers

28,481 votes cast


Ken Clark 18 Percent

Fred Dominguez 5 Percent

Marcus Ferrell 8 Percent

John Glenn 9 Percent

Denise Link 10 Percent

Jennifer Longdon 21 percent

Amish Shah 29 percent


David Alger, Sr. 100 Percent


Riggs squeaks out victory in SPI Republican primary

Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas chats with a constituent's son at the Arizona Capitol Times' Meet the Candidates event on Aug. 1. Douglas is seeking re-election this year, but she faces four Republican challengers in the August primary. PHOTO BY KATIE CAMPBELL/ARIZONA CAPITOL TIMES
Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas chats with a constituent’s son at the Arizona Capitol Times’ Meet the Candidates event on Aug. 1. Douglas is seeking re-election this year, but she faces four Republican challengers in the August primary. PHOTO BY KATIE CAMPBELL/ARIZONA CAPITOL TIMES

With five Republican contenders dividing the vote, the GOP primary race for Superintendent of Public Instruction ended in a tight victory for Frank Riggs.

Final results as of September 5 show that Frank Riggs took a lead of less than one percentage point over the runner up, Bob Branch. Just 359 votes separated the two candidates.

Incumbent Diane Douglas trailed closely behind Branch. Only 3,498 votes separated her and Riggs. The race for the Democratic nomination wasn’t as competitive; Kathy Hoffman beat David Schapira by nearly 22,000 votes.

With both Riggs and Branch receiving just shy of 22 percent of the vote, it appears Arizonans looking for a change were unable to rally behind just one alternative to the incumbent, who herself won about 21 percent of the vote. Additionally, Tracy Livingston garnered another 20 percent, and Jonathan Gelbart rounded out the pack with just shy of 15 percent.

Douglas never quite escaped criticism after clashing with Gov. Doug Ducey early in her first term over the firing of two State Board of Education employees, and she has continued to irk many in the state, even in her own party, over the years. Most recently, she offended public school teachers after criticizing the Red for Ed movement’s decision to strike and suggesting teachers’ certifications may be at risk because of it.

Still, political observers had speculated she would benefit from sheer name recognition in a crowded Republican field.

Riggs will now face off against Hoffman in the Nov. 6 general election.


Superintendent of Public Instruction By The Numbers


570,927 votes cast

Diane Douglas 21.22 percent

Bob Branch 21.77 percent

Frank Riggs 21.84 percent

Jonathan Gelbart 14.94 percent

Tracy Livingston 20.23 percent


484,748 votes cast

Kathy Hoffman 52 percent

David Schapira 48 percent

Sandra Kennedy, Kiana Sears win Corp Comm Democratic primary


Former Corporation Commissioner Sandra Kennedy has easily claimed one of two Democratic nominations for two open Arizona Corporation Commission seats.

But while she surged ahead in the Aug. 28 primary, her fellow former commissioner, Bill Mundell, struggled to secure his comeback nomination.

Mundell was neck-and-neck with Kiana Maria Sears throughout the race, with less than 1 percentage point separating them. Unofficial results show that he failed to secure the second spot in the Democratic primary by just 6,011 votes.

Sears has been accused of being an Arizona Public Service plant in the Democratic primary. That accusation threatened to be particularly harmful to her campaign at a time of heightened public scrutiny around the commissioners’ relationship with the state’s largest public utility.

But Mundell has baggage of his own, having previously served on the commission as a Republican. He has said he switched after recognizing the influence APS had over the other Republican commissioners. He and Kennedy ran as a team pledging to change the status quo.

The Democrats will face Justin Olson and Rodney Glassman in the Nov. 6 general election. Olson and Glassman defeated incumbent Tom Forese in the Republican primary.

Arizona Corporation Commission By The Numbers

667,307 votes cast


Sandra Kennedy 45 percent

Bill Mundell 27 percent

Kiana Maria Sears 28 percent


814,3176 votes cast

Tom Forese 16 percent

Justin Olson 25 percent

Rodney Glassman 23 percent

Jim O’Connor 22 percent

Eric Sloan 15 percent


Sen. David Farnsworth easily holds off challenger in LD16 Republican primary

Sen. David Farnsworth (R-Mesa)
Sen. David Farnsworth (R-Mesa)

Sen. David Farnsworth cruised to an easy victory over a challenge from San Tan Valley Republican Michael Hernandez for re-election to the state Senate.

Farnsworth is running for his third full term in the Senate representing Legislative District 16, which covers parts of Mesa and San Tan Valley, and Apache Junction and Gold Canyon.

After Farnsworth faced no primary election opponent in 2016, Hernandez emerged to try and oust him, citing the incumbent lawmaker’s opposition to incorporating San Tan Valley as his reason for entering the race.

Hernandez also garnered the endorsements of the Professional Fire Fighters of Arizona and the Arizona Police Association, but it wasn’t enough to sway voters to give the boot to Farnsworth, who’s now held the seat since he was appointed in September 2013.

Farnsworth also served a term in the Arizona House of Representatives from 1997 to 1998.

Farnsworth will face token opposition from Benjamin Carmitchel, the lone Democrat running for the state Senate in LD16. Republicans hold a two-to-one registration advantage among voters in the conservative East Valley district.

LD16 Senate by the numbers

21.079 votes cast


David Farnsworth 77 percent

Michael Hernandez 24 percent


Benjamin Carmitchel 100 percent

Shooter political comeback falls short

Don Shooter testifies during a hearing, June 14, 2018, in Judge Rosa Mroz’s Maricopa County Superior Courtroom, Phoenix.
Don Shooter testifies during a hearing, June 14, 2018, in Judge Rosa Mroz’s Maricopa County Superior Courtroom, Phoenix.

Ousted lawmaker Don Shooter’s political comeback attempt fell well short.

Shooter sought a swift return to the Capitol since he was voted out of the Legislature in February after a House investigation found he serially sexually harassed colleagues and lobbyists.

But the Yuma Republican quickly fell back on election night, and wound up a distant third, more than 5,000 votes behind incumbent Sen. Sine Kerr, a Buckeye dairy farmer in her first race for the Legislative District 13 Senate seat. Kerr has represented the district since January, when she was appointed to the Senate to fill a vacancy.

Shooter also trails Brent Backus, a Waddell Republican, in the primary election.

The election-night loss is a rebuke of Shooter, who sought to rally support for his campaign by leaning heavily into the accusations against him.

Shooter, who represented LD13 in the Senate from 2011 to 2016, touted a poll he said was conducted while he was deciding whether or not to run again, in which he asked prospective voters whether they would be more or less likely to vote for a lawmaker they knew was thrown out of office for sexual harassment. He boasted that the voters responded that they would be more likely to vote for such a lawmaker. And a billboard west of Yuma urged voters to elect Shooter to “make a liberals head explode.”

Kerr has an easy path to winning the general election. Republicans hold a nearly two-to-one advantage among registered voters in the district, which stretches from northern Yuma County to northwestern Maricopa County.

Michelle Harris, an Air Force veteran, is running unopposed for the Democratic nomination.

LD13 Senate by the numbers

Yuma County: 100 percent of precincts reporting

Maricopa County: 58 percent of precincts reporting


Brent Backus 30 percent

Sine Kerr 49 percent

Don Shooter 21 percent


Michelle Harris 100 percent

Steve Gaynor defeats incumbent Michele Reagan for Secretary of State nomination

Steve Gaynor
Steve Gaynor

Political newcomer and wealthy businessman Steve Gaynor defeated incumbent Michele Reagan in the secretary of state’s race Tuesday.

Gaynor’s win showed Reagan, Arizona’s sitting secretary of state, struggled to distance herself from a series of elections-related blunders that occurred during her first term.

A relative unknown on the state’s political scene, Gaynor poured $1.5 million of his own money into the race, using that to blanket the airwaves with negative commercials tying Reagan to a slew of elections mistakes that occurred in the past four years.

After his win Tuesday, Gaynor tweeted a thank you to his friends and supporters. “You have entrusted me with the task of fixing the #AZSOS office and I will not let you down,” he tweeted. “On to November 6th!”

Reagan called Gaynor to concede the race, said Reagan consultant Kyle Moyer.

“She wishes Gaynor well,” he said.

Despite the negativity that came out ahead of the primary election, Reagan has vowed to support Gaynor in the general election.

But the evening’s results didn’t weigh on Reagan as she was in good spirits even after the race was called for Gaynor, Moyer said.

“She’s really looking forward to going back into the private sector and to the next stage of her life,” he said.

Reagan was on defense in the lead up to the primary, but doing so with significantly less cash than her self-funded opponent.

Gaynor repeatedly criticized Reagan for her 2016 failure to send out 200,000 ballot pamphlets before voters received their early ballots. Reagan owned up to the error, but the snafu came up time and again as Reagan was locked in a heated primary challenge.

One of Gaynor’s ads also tied Reagan to the long lines Maricopa County voters had to wait in during the 2016 Presidential Preference Election. Reagan tried to distance herself from the incident because choices about polling places are up to county recorders, but Gaynor said Reagan deserved some of the blame as the state’s chief elections officer.

Gaynor, who owns a printing plant, said he was recruited to run by Republicans who felt Reagan was a weak candidate who would lose to a Democrat in the fall. Now that he seems to have secured the Party’s nomination, Gaynor thinks Republican donors will come out in force to support his campaign.

On the campaign trail, Gaynor fashioned himself as an ardent supporter of President Donald Trump and touted his National Rifle Association membership and his pro-life views — issues that don’t pertain to the Secretary of State’s office.

Gaynor will face state Sen. Katie Hobbs in the general election. The winner will become secretary of state and second-in-command to the governor.

Secretary of State

By The Numbers

Votes cast: 486,506


Michele Reagan: 33 percent

Steve Gaynor: 67 percent

Stringer survives controversy

Rep. David Stringer, R-Prescott, answers questions Wednesday about his comments which were interpreted by some as racist. Stringer said he was not a racist but simply was detailing his views on the effects of rapid immigration on the country. With him is the Rev. Jarrett Maupin who agreed to let Stringer explain his comments to leaders of the African-American community in Phoenix. PHOTO BY HOWARD FISCHER/CAPITOL MEDIA SERVICES
Rep. David Stringer, R-Prescott, answers questions in June about his comments which were interpreted by some as racist. Stringer said he was not a racist but simply was detailing his views on the effects of rapid immigration on the country. With him is the Rev. Jarrett Maupin who agreed to let Stringer explain his comments to leaders of the African-American community in Phoenix. PHOTO BY HOWARD FISCHER/CAPITOL MEDIA SERVICES

Rep. David Stringer emerged unscathed following controversy over comments he made about race and immigration earlier this summer.

Stringer and Rep. Noel Campbell, both of Prescott, defeated political newcomer Jodi Rooney in the GOP primary for the two House seats in Legislative District 1.

Stringer ran for re-election despite calls for his resignation from state party leaders after he told a GOP gathering in June that there are “not enough white kids to go around” in Arizona’s minority-laden public schools, a comment widely condemned as racist, but one Stringer insists was taken out of context.

In a 51-second snippet of his speech, which Tempe City Councilman David Schapira, a Democrat running for Superintendent of Public Instruction, posted on Twitter, Stringer says immigration is “politically destabilizing” and “presents an existential threat” to the country.

Stringer said his intent wasn’t to make a racially charged statement but was an attempt at having an honest discussion about race. And while he apologized to anyone he offended with his comments, he said pointing out that 60 percent of students in Arizona’s public schools are children of color is “not a racist comment, it’s a statement of fact.”

After his comments emerged, Arizona GOP Chairman Jonathan Lines and Gov. Doug Ducey called for Stringer to resign, which did not occur.

Instead, hoping to put the controversy behind him, Stringer met with a group of African-Americans to tell them he is working on issues of interest to their community and his comments about immigration and assimilation were misconstrued or misunderstood.

But he didn’t exactly apologize for anything he said, blaming the dust-up on a “Democrat hit piece” that excerpted 51 seconds of a 17-minute speech he gave in which he also spoke about criminal justice, education and touched on his accomplishments during the 2018 session.

And since the 51-second snippet made the rounds on social media, Stringer has doubled down on his remarks in a 60-second radio spot posted to his Facebook page on Aug. 14.

The controversy, however, appears to have had little impact on the race in what is a considered a safe Republican district.

Phil Goode, first vice chairman of the Yavapai County Republican Committee, said Stringer’s comments have instead energized the Tea Party segment of the GOP party in Yavapai County, Stringer’s voting base.

Campbell and Stringer will will face off against Democrats Ed Gogek and Jan Manolis in the Nov. 6 general election.

The district, which includes the majority of Yavapai County, Prescott, Prescott Valley and Chino Valley, and parts of northern Maricopa County, is heavily conservative. Registered Republicans outnumber registered Democrats in LD1 by nearly 45,900 voters.

LD1 House By The Numbers

62,949 votes cast


Noel Campbell 43 percent

David Stringer 37 percent

Jodi Rooney 21 percent


Ed Gogek 42 Percent

Jan Manolis 58 Percent

Ugenti-Rita wins LD23 Senate Republican primary

Rep. Michelle Ugenti-Rita (R-Scottsdale)
Rep. Michelle Ugenti-Rita (R-Scottsdale)

Rep. Michelle Ugenti-Rita will likely remain at the Capitol as she has a solid lead in the GOP primary for Senate in Legislative District 23.

The Scottsdale Republican faces a challenge from a former state agency chief, Tim Jeffries, who’s in second, and political newcomer Kristina Kelly, a distant third.

With 60 percent of precincts reporting, Ugenti-Rita leads the pack in a contentious race that saw her trade blows with Jeffries, who was forced out as director of the Department of Economic Security in 2016 amid reports that he illegitimately fired hundreds of state workers.

From the start, Jeffries made his campaign about Ugenti-Rita. Initially that meant drawing policy comparisons between the two Republicans, but by the end of August, the gloves were off for both.

Jeffries attacked Ugenti-Rita’s reputation, citing a sexually-charged joke she once made during a legislative hearing and reports of a relationship she had with a then-House staffer.

And a political action committee, funded by donors with ties to Jeffries, sought to discredit Ugenti-Rita’s accusations of sexual harassment against ousted Rep. Don Shooter.

Ugenti-Rita hit back at Jeffries for his record at the state’s welfare agency, which he ran for nearly two years. He was forced out after reports that he fired hundreds of state workers and used a state plane to fly to Nogales to celebrate with employees who gave up their job protections.

Ensuing reports also led to an investigation of the excessive amounts of ammunition stockpiled at the agency during his tenure.

If victorious, this would be the fifth time voters in LD23 elected Ugenti-Rita. She previously represented the district, which includes most of Scottsdale and Fountain Hills, for eight years in the House.

The winner of the GOP primary will face Daaria Lohman in the general election, though the district’s demographics make an upset unlikely for the lone Democrat in the race.

Republicans boast a nearly 36 percent voter registration advantage in LD23, compared to just 20 percent for Democrats.

LD23 Senate by the numbers

Early votes


Timothy Jeffries 36 percent

Kristina Kelly 23 percent

Michelle Ugenti-Rita 41 percent


Daria Lohman 100 percent

Wendy Rogers wins CD1 Republican primary

Wendy Rogers
Wendy Rogers

After an ugly primary campaign involving accusations of sex trafficking, fake polls and threats of lawsuits, Republicans in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District elected Wendy Rogers as the GOP nominee.

Unofficial results show that Rogers beat state Sen. Steve Smith by just 3,160 votes, but her vote count was more than double that of Tiffany Shedd

It was a hard-fought victory for Rogers after taking heat for accusing Smith of working for a company that engaged in sex trafficking and inappropriate conduct with minors.

But she left that behind in a statement declaring victory Aug. 29, turning her attention instead to Democratic incumbent Tom O’Halleran.

“Both Steve Smith and Tiffany were fierce competitors for whom I have great respect,” Rogers said in the statement “It is time to unite, so we can defeat radical leftist Tom O’Halleran.”

She will face O’Halleran, who did not have a primary challenger, in the Nov. 6 General Election.

Arizona’s 1st Congressional District By the Numbers

59,820 votes cast


Wendy Rogers 43.27 percent

Tiffany Shedd 18.81 percent

Steve Smith 37.92 percent


56,992 votes cast

Tom O’Halleran 100 percent