Arizona Statewide - Primary
Could #RedforED turn Arizona blue?
That’s the big question as we head into the 2018 election, when all statewide seats are on the ballot and up for grabs. While Arizona has long been regarded as a safe GOP stronghold, shifts in voter registration and special election upsets in deep red states across the country have given hope to Democrats that a blue wave may be coming to Arizona.
Republicans currently hold every statewide seat in Arizona, and while independents are now the largest voting bloc, registered Republicans still hold a roughly 4-percentage-point advantage over Democrats in the Grand Canyon State. There is increased optimism among those on the left that recent political engagement from educators, initiated by the #RedforED movement and its historic teacher strike on the State Capitol, will translate into political gains come November.
Governor Doug Ducey faces a repeat Primary challenge from former Secretary of State Ken Bennett; the two were also among candidates vying for the GOP gubernatorial nomination four years ago. Democrats, meanwhile, will see their first gubernatorial Primary in over 15 years when State Senator Steve Farley and David Garcia look to earn the nod from their party. Look for a bruising gubernatorial campaign that appears tight until the end … but that concludes with voters rewarding Governor Ducey with another four years.
The Secretary of State race will see incumbent Michele Reagan challenged by Democratic State Senator Katie Hobbs. Democrats hope a series of election-related hiccups will have voters ready to change control of the office.
Attorney General Mark Brnovich has had a relatively smooth first term. He has no Primary challenger and faces a political newcomer in Democrat January Contreras in November, giving AG Brnovich arguably the smoothest path to reelection among statewide officeholders.
Arizona will see a new Treasurer elected in November following Jeff DeWit’s confirmation to a NASA post and the decision of gubernatorial appointee Eileen Klein to not seek election. All signs point to Republican State Senator Kimberly Yee advancing out of the Primary and taking on Democrat Mark Manoil.
There’s no shortage of candidates in the School Superintendent race as a large field looks to take the seat from current schools chief Diane Douglas. Republicans Bob Branch, Jonathan Gelbert, Tracy Livingston and Frank Riggs are challenging Superintendent Douglas for the GOP nomination. Among Democrats, Kathy Hoffman and former State Senator David Schapira hope to make it to the General Election. This seat could be ripe for a Primary upset.
Let’s not forget the State Mine Inspector Joe Hart, who will be looking to win his fourth consecutive election and his second with a Democratic challenger – this time squaring off against William Pierce.
There are two seats up for grabs on the Corporation Commission, leading to a crowded GOP contest. Republican Commission members Tom Forese and Justin Olson are running for re-election. Also running is Democrat-turned-Republican Rodney Glassman, along with James "Jim" O’Connor and Eric Sloan. The GOP nominees will go up against the winners of a Democratic field that features former Commission members William Mundell and Sandra Kennedy, as well as newcomer Kiana Sears.
Meanwhile, a pair of initiatives potentially headed for the November ballot may further boost Democratic turnout. The “Invest in Education Act,” spurred by the #RedForED teacher movement, would increase the income tax on the highest wage earners in order to fund public education. The initiative, led by education organizers, hopes to mobilize a recently engaged education base to fund teacher salaries and all-day kindergarten.
The second measure, “Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona,” is the brainchild of California billionaire and liberal political activist Tom Steyer. If approved, it would amend the State Constitution to require that public utilities source at least 50 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2030. Expect a hard-fought campaign between the deep-pocketed Steyer team and a coalition of utilities, business and taxpayer advocacy groups.