Republican Rep. Ben Quayle, left, and fellow Republican Rep. David Schweikert… (David Kadlubowski / Arizona…)
All eyes might be on the Republican National Convention, but there is another nominating process underway Tuesday in Arizona, where voters will decide on candidates for a Senate contest and a number of House races. Here’s three that are worth watching:
Senate: Flake vs. Cardon
The Republican primary for the seat that is being vacated by retiring Sen. Jon Kyl has been billed as another test of strength for the conservative group Club for Growth. The libertarian-leaning group has been on the winning end of a number of contests this primary season, helping boost insurgents like Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock, who defeated incumbent Sen. Richard Lugar in that state’s primary earlier this year.
In Arizona, the Club for Growth is backing Rep. Jeff Flake over Wil Cardon, a businessman who has spent more than $6 million of his personal fortune on his campaign.
Through its political action committee and “super PAC,” Club for Growth has spent more than $1 million on independent expenditures to help Flake, according to a report from the nonpartisan Center for Public Integrity. Flake is heavily favored to clinch the nomination.
The Republican nominee will face Democrat Richard Carmona, a Vietnam War veteran and former U.S. surgeon general, in November. Democrats consider the seat to be in play in November, but prognosticators say it leans in Republicans’ favor.
Battle of the Republican freshmen
Even though Arizona will gain a seat in Congress this year, a hard-fought redistricting battle allowed Democrats to force two Republican incumbents into a single district.
Freshman Rep. Ben Quayle currently represents most of the new district, but he has taken a pummeling from fellow freshman Rep. Dave Schweikert.
Schweikert’s campaign, and a “super PAC” backing his candidacy, have broadcast ads that cast Quayle as a privileged prince coasting on the name of his famous father, former Vice President Dan Quayle.
One ad criticizes Quayle for writing Web posts for a racy website about Scottsdale nightlife back in 2007. Another evokes Quayle’s father’s famous misspelling of “potato” with an ad that mocks the younger Quayle for misstating federal spending figures.
The seat is considered solidly Republican, so the winner of Tuesday’s primary is all but guaranteed reelection in November.
New House seat
The open seat that Arizona gained in redistricting is considered an opportunity for Democrats since it was drawn to include the more liberal areas around Arizona State University in Tempe.
Republicans are hoping that Democrats nominate openly bisexual state Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, who is perceived to be the most liberal of the Democratic contenders. They are less eager to run against Democratic state party chair Andrei Cherny, a former speechwriter for President Clinton. Also running is state Sen. David Schapira, but he has lagged in fundraising.
Republicans will choose from a crowded field of seven candidates, including Paradise Valley Mayor Vernon Parker, Air National Guard veteran Travis Grantham, former Air Force pilot Wendy Rogers and former Chandler City Councilman Martin Sepulveda.