SNAP THE VOTE: Arizona Senate race - Tucson News Now

SNAP THE VOTE: Arizona Senate race


The last time Democrats carried Arizona was 1996, but the likelihood of the traditionally red state turning blue is closer than ever.

Arizona’s complicated midterm elections gets more confusing each day. With multiple different players and a lot at stake, it's more important than ever that constituents understand what could change in November.

So How Did We Get Here

In October 2017, Jeff Flake announced he would not seek re-election.

Flake, who frequently criticizes President Donald Trump, did not hold back in his comments about the "complicity" of his own party in perpetuating the "alarming and dangerous state of affairs" under President Trump.

Flake is part of a small group of Republican senators who openly criticize the President as they have nothing to lose come November.

Trump, who has tweeted insults at Flake more than once, suggested it was time for him to retire the seat he has held since 2013.

Flake’s retirement, however, is a double-edged sword for the White House and Republican Party. While his vacancy might allow Flake to be replaced with a more "Trump-like" Republican like Kelli Ward, it also gives the Democrats the opportunity to scoop up another traditionally red seat.

President Donald Trump. (Source: Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley)


Who’s Who

There’s a lot of names that come up when discussing the midterms in Arizona. The ones listed below are the most relevant names you’ll need to know before casting your vote in November.

Arizona Senator Jeff Flake. (Source: Gage Skidmore / Flickr)

Jeff Flake: (R-AZ) Current Republican Senator who has been in office since 2013. Flake will not seek reelection this year and his seat is one of several that Republicans need to hold onto in order to maintain a majority in Congress. Flake has openly criticized Trump a number times stating, "if the GOP becomes the party of Roy Moore and Donald Trump, we are toast."

U.S. Congresswoman Martha McSally. (Source: Gage Skidmore / Flickr)

Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ): The first woman combat pilot in American history and the current Representative for Arizona’s CD-2. McSally is the establishment Republican's best hope for keeping the seat.

Former Arizona State Senator Kelli Ward. (Source: Gage Skidmore / Flickr)

Kelli Ward: A former state legislator, Ward challenged McCain in the 2016 primary and lost. Ward has not been welcomed by establishment Republicans. The Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC linked to Mitch McConnell, stated back in October "Steve Bannon’s hand-picked candidate, conspiracy-theorist Kelli Ward, will not be the Republican nominee for this Senate seat in 2018."

Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. (Source: Gage Skidmore / Flickr) 

Sheriff Joe Arpaio: An extremely controversial figure who famously called himself "America’s Toughest Sheriff." Arpaio has been accused of a multitude of violations including police misconduct, abuse of power, misuse of funds, improper clearance of cases, failure to investigate sex crimes, unlawful enforcement of immigration laws and election violation laws. Arpaio was convicted on criminal charges in July 2017, but he was pardoned by Trump just a month later. In January, he announced he would run for Senate.

Arizona Senator John McCain. (Source: Gage Skidmore / Flickr)

John McCain: John McCain is the senior United States Senator from Arizona who has been serving the state since 1987. He was the Republican nominee for President in 2008 and a prisoner of war in Vietnam. He was recently diagnosed with brain cancer and his health has been a topic of discussion throughout the year. If McCain were to resign for health reasons Arizona could have two U.S. Senate races on the 2018 ballot.

Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema. (Source: Gage Skidmore / Flickr) 

Kyrsten Sinema: Representative Kyrsten Sinema currently serves Arizona's CD-9 and is the Democratic nominee for the 2018 race. Sinema has a good shot at turning the seat blue mostly because she is notoriously good at fundraising, and her moderate, sometimes even GOP friendly, politics matches the state's sometimes purple profile. Additionally, she called an abandoned gas station home for three years as a child, and her compelling life story is at the center of her campaign

But Wait, There’s More 

About 49 percent of Arizona voters chose President Trump in 2016.

Sinema has been able to raise a significant amount of funds, which is good news for the Democrats as they see Sinema as the candidate who might be able to pick up those who didn’t vote Trump. The seat is looking like the second easiest -- behind Nevada -- for the Democrats to pick up.

In the Arizona House of Representative, Republicans also find themselves on shaky ground.

McSally won't seek re-election for her seat and this move leaves the seat almost entirely open to Democratic challenger Ann Kirkpatrick. Additionally, there is a gubernatorial race on the ballot. Gov. Doug Ducey has been polling poorly, putting him in a bad position against the likely Democratic nominee David Garcia. Although the lead is narrow, this race deeply worries some Arizona Republicans.

Democrats in Arizona, a typically red state, all of sudden finds themselves with a good chance at picking up a Senate seat, House seat and Governor’s mansion.

More broadly, this race represents a growing trend in American politics where women and minority groups, especially Arizona’s large Latino population, are turning out to unseat establishment politicians.

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