The Skinny

On to the general: How the dust settled after last week's primary election

With last week's primary election, we finally know who will be advancing to November's general election. Here's a roundup of the key races, along with some notes from the primary.

Senate Showdown

McCain advances to general election contest against Kirkpatrick

Despite Breitbart News' election-eve release of poll showing a razor-thin margin between Sen. John McCain and Kelli Ward, Arizona's senior senator easily squashed the former state lawmaker from Lake Havasu, capturing 52 percent of the vote.

McCain's win sets the stage for what even he calls the toughest challenge of his long career: Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick, whose sprawling congressional district has allowed her to build up both decent statewide name ID and a legit fundraising base. 

In his victory speech, McCain told the crowd: "Tonight, you have given me a chance to continue serving America. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Now, let's go win one more time."

In her election-night comments, Kirkpatrick stuck with one of the central messages of her campaign—"John McCain has changed"—in her prepared statement after the polls closed.

"I am honored and grateful for the opportunity to represent my lifelong home of Arizona, and I will never waver in the fight to keep our communities safe, stand up for our veterans, protect Social Security and Medicare, and create good-paying jobs for hardworking families," Kirkpatrick said. "John McCain has changed after 33 years in Washington and no longer puts Arizonans above his own self-interest and his political career. There are enormous stakes in this election, and I look forward to a spirited campaign that offers voters a clear choice for the future of our state and who will best represent them in the U.S. Senate."

Expect Kirkpatrick to contine to hammer McCain for his endorsement of GOP presidential nominee Trump, while McCain will hammer Kirkpatrick for her support of Obamacare, the Iran nuclear deal and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

Congressional Clash

McSally will face Heinz in CD2, while O'Halleran and Babeu will fight for open seat in CD1

Former state lawmaker Matt Heinz defeated Victoria Steele in the race that determined the Democrat who will take on Republican Congresswoman Martha McSally in CD2 this November. Heinz, who raised significantly more money than Steele and ran a traditional campaign versus Steele's low-budget, grassroots effort, captured about 53 percent of the vote.

Heinz said that he was happy with the primary win but "there's no time to rest. The 2nd District deserves leadership that is consistent with the values and beliefs of Southern Arizonans. Martha McSally and her wealthy special interest friends are focused on their own self-interest, not the needs of our district."

For her part, Steele said she's support Heinz: "We have grown-up races in the Democratic Party."

McSally, a rising star in the GOP, has more than $2 million on hand and the advantage of incumbency, but the district is one of the most competitive in the nation and Democrats hope that an anti-Trump wave could yet sink McSally. Recognizing the danger that Trump poses despite her advantages, McSally has said that she won't endorse the GOP nominee and won't reveal who she plans to vote for in November.

Over in CD1, Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu came out ahead in a crowded field, despite the efforts of several of his fellow opponents to criticize him, particularly over allegations that he was aware of abuse that was taking place at a Massachusetts school where he served as an administrator.

Expect that story to be amplified as the DCCC and other groups start spending TV dollars in support of Democrat Tom O'Halleran, who served in the Arizona Legislature as a

moderate Republican and who switched parties to seek the congressional seat. The DCCC was already running an ad last week highlighting news stories about the abuse at the school.

O'Halleran himself was talking about ethics before he went to bed on Election Night.

"Now that the primary is over, it's time for a real conversation about how we can improve the ethical climate in Congress," O'Halleran said in a prepared statement. "Over the next few weeks, I will visit every corner of our district to lead that conversation. I've released a ten-point ethics plan, and it stands in sharp contrast to Paul Babeu, who has been caught repeatedly abusing his power, and using the public's money for his own personal and political gain."

DCCC Chair Ben Ray Luján echoed the theme of ethics in his prepared statement on the race. 

"Democrats have proven cycle after cycle that we know how to win this critical district," Lujan said. "As a former police officer, business owner, and public servant, Tom O'Halleran brought members of both parties together to improve Arizona schools and fully fund all-day kindergarten. Now he's running with a concrete ethics plan that stands in stark contrast to any of the embattled Republicans that will emerge from their divisive primary. We're confident that Tom will run a winning campaign based on the issues that matter to hardworking Arizonans."

The district, which includes Oro Valley and Marana as well as most of eastern rural Arizona, Flagstaff and the Navajo reservation, remains one of the most in the nation, although Ann Kirkpatrick won it twice as a moderate Dem. To get an idea of what the polls are showing, watch to see whether the NRCC starts spending money here.

For now, the NRCC is behind Babeu. NRCC Chair Greg Walden had this to say in a prepared statement: "Congratulations to Sheriff Paul Babeu on his primary victory. Paul has dedicated himself to serving Arizona as both a lawman and member of the Army National Guard, keeping America safe at home and abroad. I am confident voters will recognize Paul's experienced leadership and service to his community, and send him to fight for them in Washington this November."

Board Games

The future of the Pima County Board of Supervisors is up for grabs

Pima County Supervisor Ally Miller prevailed over challenger John Winchester in her race for reelection. Miller has often been unhinged in her first term, but as a symbol of opposition to Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry and the other board members, Miller has won over a majority of Republican primary voters last week.

Miller will face Democrat Brian Bickel in the District 1 in the November general. Bickel has an uphill climb; District 1, which includes the Catalina Foothills, Marana and Oro Valley, leans very much Republican. But Miller has weakened her support in her party both with her wild antics and her votes against the county's economic-development efforts, including a push to help retain Raytheon, the region's largest private employer.

In the race to replace Pima County Supervisor Ray Carroll, former car dealer and State Transportation Board member Steve Christy has jumped to a big lead over his outsider challengers, Marla Closen and John Backer. Christy faces minor opposition by Green Party candidate Josh Reilly in November.

The big race to watch in November is Republican Kim DeMarco's effort to unseat five-term incumbent Democrat Sharon Bronson. District 3 is a Democratic district, but watch for DeMarco—a tight ally of District 1' Ally Miller—to run a campaign that focuses on taxes and ousting Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry.

In other county races: Former public defender Joel Feinman's effort to topple Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall came up short. Feinman had pushed for criminal-justice reform, saying that LaWall was sending too many non-violent offenders to jail, but LaWall, buoyed by two decades as county attorney, prevailed in the primary. She now faces Green Party candidate Cyndi Tuell as she seeks a sixth term.

Republican Mark Napier, a former Tucson Police officer who now works as an UA parking administrator, will be face Democrat Chris Nanos in the race for sheriff in November. Nanos, who was appointed sheriff last year following the retirement of Democrat Clarence Dupnik, has the voter-registration advantage but has been plagued by headlines about insider dealings, FBI investigations and scandals involving some of his top administrators.

Dustin Williams knocked down Mike Gordy in the race for Pima County Superintendent of Schools in the Democratic primary. He'll face Republican Margaret Burkholder, a school teacher who recently made an unsuccessful run for Tucson City Council last year, in November.

Pima County Assessor Bill Staples easily cruised to a win in the primary against former employee Brian Johnson and faces independent candidate Suzanne Droubie in November.

A Lot of Buzz

Corp Com races will focus on battle over dark money and solar energy

An unusual trifecta emerged from the Republican primary for three seats on the Arizona Corporation Commission: Incumbent Bob Burns led the pack. Burns, a former Senate president, has been pushing the commission to uncover how much mega-utility APS is secretly spending on Corporation Commission races, given that the Corporation Commission is the body that regulates APS. 

Coming in second was Andy Tobin, the former House speaker who was appointed to the commission by Gov. Doug Ducey when another commissioner was forced off the ACC for a pretty blatant conflict of interest. Tobin has led the charge to try to stop Burns from getting to the bottom of the APS' efforts to keep commissioners in its pocket.

All of this gets back to the war between the utilities and rooftop-solar companies that's got the commission tied up in knots.

Coming in third at the moment was Boyd Dunn, a former Chandler mayor who has steered clear of all that controversy so far.

Not making the cut for the three seats were two former state lawmakers, Rick Gray and Al Melvin. Many Southern Arizonans remember Cap'n Al from the good old days when he kicked around the poor and championed nuclear waste as a Southern Arizona lawmaker. Sorry you won't be able to fulfill that dream of the SaddleBrooke repository, Al! 

Two Democrats are also in the hunt for the three seats in November: Bill Mundell, who previously served on the commission as a Republican, and Tom Chabin, a former Coconino County supervisor and state lawmaker. Look for them and their allies in the solar industry to shine a light on APS' unsavory efforts to kneecap the rooftop solar biz as well as the push for higher rates. (If you're not already familiar with the phrases "dark money," "demand charges" and "regulatory capture," get ready to learn all about it.)

Legislative Line Up

Competitive races for the State House

Democrats Rosanna Galbadon and Daniel Hernandez won the three-way race for two House seats in Legislative District 2, which runs along the Santa Cruz River from downtown Tucson to Nogales.

While the district is Democratic-leaning on paper, Republican John Christopher Ackerley won a House seat two years ago in an upset victory. Now Ackerley will have to see if he can hang onto the seat in a presidential election year.

In Legislative District 9, challenger Pamela Powers Hannley was knocking out incumbent Rep. Matt Kopec, who was appointed to the LD9 seat earlier this year by the Pima County Board of Supervisors.

Powers Hannley said she often won over voters she talked to with her left-leaning politics. "Sometimes all is have to say is that I'm a progressive," she told TW on Election Night.

Rep. Randy Friese, who is wrapping his first term, was outpolling both of them in the race for two House seats.

Friese and Powers Hannley will face Republican Ana Henderson, a business owner and political newcomer, in the November election. Henderson has already qualified for Clean Elections funding.

LD9, which includes central Tucson, the Catalina Foothills and the Casas Adobes area, is one of Arizona's most competitive legislative districts and elected a Republican, Ethan Orr, for one term as recently as 2012. 

In Legislative District 10, incumbent Rep. Stefanie Mach and UA law prof Kirsten Engel came out on top in in the race for two House seats. State Rep. Bruce Wheeler did not seek reelection.

Engel said the other candidates pushed her to be the best she could be and

credited her strong showing to the her focus on education and environment. "I picked the right issues to focus on, the issues I can best represent," said Engel, a former environmental lawyer with the Sierra Club and the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office. 

Mach said "the real battle for me is the general election." 

LD10, which includes central and eastern Tucson, is also one of the most competitive in the state. Republican Todd Clodfelter, who has run for the seat previously, has already qualified for Clean Elections funding.

Zona Politics with Jim Nintzel airs at 8 a.m. Sunday on the CW Tucson, Channel 8 on Cox and Comcast and Channel 58 on Dish, DirecTV and broadcast. You can hear the show on KXCI, 91.3 FM, at 5 p.m. Sundays or see it at

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this column incorrectly reported that Assessor Bill Stapes faced no opposition in November. He will face independent candidate Suzanne Droubie.

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