Six Races to Watch

Now that the primary is over, let the general-election games begin!

After last week's primary election, voters have the final lineup of candidates they'll choose between in the Nov. 6 general election. Here's a quick look at a half-dozen of the most-interesting races in Southern Arizona.

1. U.S. Senate: Jeff Flake convincingly trounced multimillionaire Wil Cardon, who spent about $9 million of his family fortune on a campaign based mostly on trashing Flake. Flake, who won 69 percent of the vote in last week's primary, is now is the favorite to win retiring Sen. Jon Kyl's seat, but Democrat Richard Carmona has a spectacular political biography (former Green Beret, SWAT-team doc, surgeon general in the George W. Bush administration) and enough money to make it a real race. On the morning after the election, Flake sought to link Carmona to the Obama administration; Carmona has likewise been working to link Flake to extremists in Congress, including Rep. Todd Akin, who landed in the national spotlight after saying that was unlikely that women would become pregnant as a result of "legitimate rape."

2. U.S. Congress, District 1: Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick, a former congresswoman and state lawmaker, won 64 percent of the vote against Wenona Benally Baldenegro, while Republican Jonathan Paton won 61 percent of the vote against his three opponents. The two experienced lawmakers will now go head to head in a sprawling district that stretches from Marana and Oro Valley to Flagstaff, the Grand Canyon and the northern tribal reservations. The district leans in Kirkpatrick's direction—nearly 40 percent of the voters are Democrats, while 30 percent are Republicans—but the National Republican Congressional Committee has promised to spend $900,000 in air time to boost Paton's chances.

NRCC Executive Director Guy Harrison said on the morning after the primary that Kirkpatrick's vote in favor of the stimulus plan and the Affordable Care Act would be "wrapped around her neck" between now and November.

"We feel good about where the Romney-Ryan ticket is in Arizona (CD) 1, and we feel we have a great chance of victory there," Harrison said.

But Kirkpatrick and her allies with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee are prepared to spend as well. She had far more money in the bank as of early August—$826,000 to Paton's $127,000—and has deep roots in the northern portion of the district.

3. U.S. Congress, District 2: Congressman Ron Barber is the favorite to win Southern Arizona's CD 2 after he demonstrated that he had strong support among Democrats by capturing 82 percent of the vote in the primary against state lawmaker Matt Heinz. Polling has shown Barber, a former aide to U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords who won the current Congressional District 8 seat in a June special election, leading Republican Martha McSally, a former Air Force fighter pilot who won 82 percent of the vote in her primary.

NRCC officials spoke highly of McSally last week, but said that the national campaign operation had not yet decided whether to spend on her behalf, and would be polling in the next few weeks to determine McSally's viability.

4. Pima County Board of Supervisors, District 1: Republican Ally Miller's win in a four-way Republican primary pits her against former state lawmaker Nancy Young Wright in the race to replace retiring Republican Ann Day. While Miller has a voter-registration advantage—41 percent of the voters are Republicans, while 30 percent are Democrats, with the remainder independents or third-party members—Team Wright sees an opportunity, because Miller, who founded a local Tea Party organization, leans far to the right and has shown both a weak grasp of county spending issues and a willingness to make accusations that GOP primary opponent Mike Hellon dismissed as "preposterous." Hellon and another primary opponent, Stuart McDaniel, have both filed campaign-finance complaints alleging coordination between Miller's campaign and an independent-expenditure campaign that aided her in the primary. The Pima County Attorney's Office forwarded the complaints to the Arizona secretary of state last week.

5. Pima County Board of Supervisors, District 3: Democrat Sharon Bronson has the advantage as she runs for a fifth term on the Board of Supervisors against Republican Tanner Bell, a political novice. Democrats represent 40 percent of district voters, while 32 percent are independents, and 28 percent are Republicans. Bronson has the name recognition and political connections that come with 16 years in public office. And she has more money than Bell; the most-recent campaign-finance reports, covering activity through Aug. 16, show that she had more than $64,500 on hand, while Bell had only $2,216 in the bank and $5,228 in debts. But the most-vocal county critics see Bell as the way to swing the board majority in the GOP's direction, so their efforts will be focused on District 3.

6. Legislative District 10: Sen. Frank Antenori has made a career of driving hard to the right at nearly every opportunity. He's boasted about slashing budgets, undermining unions, meddling with local governments, reducing access to health care for low-income Arizonans and expanding gun rights.

But now redistricting has put Antenori in a district that leans about 4 percentage points Democratic and includes midtown Tucson. Will his new audience be as supportive of his agenda—and his outspoken persona—as his old one was?

Antenori faces an experienced campaigner in Democrat Dave Bradley, who represented midtown Tucson for four terms in the Arizona House of Representatives before hitting his term limit in 2010.

In the same district, Democrats Bruce Wheeler and Stefanie Mach face Republicans Ted Vogt, who already holds a seat in the House of Representatives, and Todd Clodfelter, a local printer who is making his first run for office since he sought a seat on the Tucson City Council in 1995.

Other Southern Arizona races worth keeping an eye on: the House of Representatives race in Legislative District 9, where Republican Ethan Orr is facing two Democrats, Mohur Sidhwa and Victoria Steele, in the race for two House seats in a competitive northside district; Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik's race against Republican Mark Napier, who landed 43 percent of the vote in a five-way GOP primary; the 12-way race for three seats on the Tucson Unified School District board; and Democrat Elaine Richardson's push to unseat Republican Pima County Treasurer Beth Ford.