A Day At The Races LD-26

A Day At The Races LD26 From time to time, Sonoran Alliance will be previewing the 2008 legislative contests, looking at the candidates and issues involved in the top districts in the state. Today we preview the races in LD26, a southern Arizona district that includes Oro Valley, Catalina, parts of Marana, and SaddleBrooke.

Senate: The mother of all battles will likely be played out in LD26’s Senate contest as 2006 GOP nominee Al Melvin, currently the only announced candidate, expects to face off against current GOP State Representative Pete Hershberger, who has been “exploring” the race since early this summer. Nowhere in Arizona will there be a clearer contest of conservative values versus liberal values than in the Melvin-Hershberger race. Melvin is a platform Republican whose campaign is centered around border security, fiscal responsibility, empowering parents when it comes to their children’s education, and supporting the party’s positions on myriad social issues. Hershberger’s seven-year record is that of the GOP’s most liberal member, and the Democrat’s most reliable Republican vote. Hershberger routinely votes against tax cuts and for major increases in spending, and he never hesitates to attack his own party when it doesn’t “spend enough” on his priorities. He will bring to the contest an uninterrupted streak of “Big Spender” awards and an “F” rating from the NRA. Nevertheless, he insists that he does what he does for the good of Southern Arizona, and the Hershberger name has been a constant in the area for a very long time. This will be an epic battle between two determined candidates.

It is difficult to predict an outcome. Melvin lost the 2006 general election to Democrat Charlene Pesquiera by 455 votes and he appears determined to prevent a repeat of that. In addition to starting his campaign almost a year earlier than he did last time, he is expanding his support base to include more moderate elements of the party. While this is a challenge, given that he defeated the moderates’ candidate (Toni Hellon) in 2006, early reviews from officials in the district and the county are positive and Melvin is certainly very active in the district, as he seems to appear anywhere five or more Republicans hold a meeting. In spite of not being an announced candidate, Hershberger is also reportedly working hard, eschewing Republican gatherings in favor of walking neighborhoods and trying to generate support among registered Independents who would be allowed to vote in the Republican primary. While this strategy did not work for Slade Mead in 2004, it is a safe bet that Hershberger is working harder than Mead did and that he will put forth maximum effort to win the primary. Will the independents turn out to elect Hershberger or will the Republican base carry Melvin to victory? We’ll all have to stay tuned.

House: The LD26 Senate seat wasn’t the only seat to be captured by the Democrats in 2006 as Lena Saradnik easily bested the GOP’s other nominee, David Jorgenson by approximately 5,000 votes. Getting this seat back is a top GOP priority, but beating Saradnik will be very tough as she is a capable candidate and a very hard worker. The current GOP candidates for the two House seats are Trent Humphries and Marilyn Zurell. Both have been in the race for several months and both are working hard, collecting their seed money and building organizations. Another candidate, Vic Williams, the LD26 Treasurer, is also expected to enter the race.

Surprisingly, none of the 2006 candidates are currently running again. Carol Somers has run several times and may have finally tired of the process, while David Jorgenson and Lisa Lovallo appear willing to sit this one out. Party activists on the left side of the GOP are still trying to woo Lovallo into the race while those on the right are trying to get Jorgenson to run again. An interesting stalemate seems to have occurred wherein folks realize that Jorgenson cannot win the general while Lovallo cannot win the primary. Moreover, should either enter the race, the other almost certainly would, dooming the GOP’s chances. The net result of this will likely be a three-way primary between three newcomers, each of whom appears to be electable in this district. Key to GOP success will be minimizing any divisiveness in the primary so that the party emerges united for the general election. The degree to which they are successful will be up to Humphries, Zerull and Williams themselves.

In any case, the Democrats appear determined to try and win the second House seat in addition to defending the Saradnik seat. This looks like a real over-reach, as adding a second Democrat candidate will dilute Saradnik’s vote total and actually help the GOP’s chances of beating her. The current name being floated by Democrats is Don Jorgenson, who we can assure you is no relation to David. Predicting the outcome of this race is difficult as well, but we can rest assured that LD26 will be the target of major efforts by both parties as they battle for control of the State Legislature in 2008!


  1. Thanks for the analysis SA. Its an interesting district where the GOP wants its seat back and the Dems need to pick up the other one if they’re going to get to 31. I like the GOP’s chances more than the Dems, but its going to be a major contest for sure.

  2. D26 must come back to the Republicans.

    D26 may be more moderate than you think.

    The Dems won last time running as moderates & the Republicans lost running as strong conservatives.

    One needs to run on the issues that are important to D26, not just run as a liberal, moderate or a conservative.

    I’ll support whichever candidates get through the Primary, regardless as to how closely they resemble my platform.

  3. Excellent post and LD 26 is interesting. If you’d selected Somers instead of Jorgy she would have won in the general. Barring a major change of heart, she will NOT run again. 2006 was quite a slap. In both the house (Somers) and senate (Hellon) you had sure winners, but chose losers instead.

    Watching Melvin try to beat Pete will be quite interesting. You do realize people really like Pete, despite your criticisms here. Also, Pete knows how to win.

    I’m not sure what to think about a guy that (IN LD 26!!!!!) loses to a democrat (Pesquira) that barely campaigned and didn’t expect to win. I think she slipped past Al due to a general foul 11/06 mood regarding the GOP.

    The mood in 2008 will make 2006 feel like Easter on a sunny day.

    Regarding the white house, check out Rudy. He will get the nod, and Bush’s S-CHIP veto helps him. I don’t know who you guys talk to, but the anger over that veto is seething.

    OVD likes to consider Bush and Cheney old news, but they aren’t (yet). The obstinacy continues as Cheney puts pal profits over everything.

    I am no troll and not out to pick a fight, but I do wonder how such commitment to the unborn fits with so little commitment to the already born. Let’s skip the debate about the former. How can there be debate about the latter?

    Seen the Health group’s (forget the name) pro-Giffords ads on TV about SCHIP? I’m sure they’re not running such ads for any others democrats across the country in an organized effort to swing the country blue and away from a party that denies medical care to poor children.

    The veto was a political blunder showing Cheney’s priorities. He doesn’t care what happens in 2008.

    You have been betrayed.

    Not sure if this place takes links:

    Have you heard about the American Conservative’s article putting Patraeus on its front cover? It makes the MoveOn ad look like afternoon tea.

  4. SCHIP extends government coverage to folks making over $80,000 a year. That’s not exactly “the needy”. It also includes adults in a program designed to help needy kids. Bush proposed increases to cover needy kids, the Democrats pushed to expand national healthcare in the guise of SCHIP. It was a good veto and not at all inconsistent with pro-life or pro-family policies. Try to remember that fiscal discipline and lower taxes are pro-family policies too.

  5. Just Win Baby says

    So far the House candidates in LD26 seem pretty well-centered. All a bit to the right of center as Republicans tend to be, without being as far to the right as Jorgenson was. They’re in the mold of Somers except they’re pro-life, so that’s a nice improvement.

    I like Al’s chances to win the general election this time, especially given the Democrat’s voting record. Its abysmal. If the post is true and Melvin is expanding his outreach to include more moderate elements of the party, that ought to more than make up the 400 votes he lost by.

  6. Melvin does not face Pesquira. He faces Hershberger.

    The income levels are based on poverty rates corresponding to demographics. The highest I heard was $60K in the most expensive places like Manhattan, SF, etc. If $80K applies somewhere, I haven’t seen it, but this is academic.

    The key point is that the GOP (more accurately, Cheney) has chosen to pretend to exercise cost control towards medical care for children while funneling gazillions to big oil, big pharma, big HMO, and this thing called Iraq.

    It’s a bad move. I am talking politics. Cheney and his pupppy prez just threw the GOP under the bus. Senator Orrin Hatch gets it. The astute of the GOP get it.

    For most of the country, the figure for a family of 4 is $40K. Have you paid a mortgage and raised two kids with health care on $40K?

    I am attacking Cheney and his lap dog, not this blog.

    My father is a high ranking church official who is very conservative and pro-life. With considerable suffering, he has rejected the GOP as profit whores.

    What will it take to light the bulb?

    Giuliani for President!?!

    Don’t like it? Then vote for HER.

    Hillary 2008!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Thank Cheney. He got the money for himself and his pals. The white house did not serve this country since 2000. Since 2000, this country has served the white house.

    The SMART conservatives are figuring this out. When will this blog?

  7. I’ll be VERY surprised if Melvin beats Hershberger. I heard Melvin speak on several occasions during his last run and he sounded like an automatron. This surprised me–given his diverse background, I expected him to come off more as a thinking human being. How is he going to try to appeal to moderates? His views are absolutist conservative.

  8. Just Win Baby says

    Folks said Melvin couldn’t beat Hellon and that race wasn’t even close. If Hershberger has to turn to Independents to save himself, he probably knows that he doesn’t have the votes within the Republican primary as it stands right now. I’m not saying it will be an easy race, but no one should be surprised if Melvin beats Hershberger.

  9. According to the Secretary of State’s website, in the 2006 primary, Melvin got 10,924 votes and Hershberger got 8,885 votes from the same voters at the same time. That seems like a pretty big difference to me.

  10. Galloping Artichoke says

    The problem Hershberger is going to face is that he will not get his customary Democrat and Democrat-leaning independent crossover votes. This makes up a sizable portion of his base.

    These people have now bought into the idea that they can get a full-fledged Democrat in office. Why would they carry Hershberger’s water?

    I would suspect that if Democrats do cross over to vote in the Republican primary it will be for Al Melvin, whom they would probably feel is a better match up to the Democratic candidate.

    Pete is going to have to show something that he hasn’t to this point in order to get the nomination.

  11. Hey PartyGuy, don’t forget that in the House race they get to vote for two people. So that means that those 2,000 folks who voted for Melvin didn’t even have Hershberger in their top two choices.

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