A Day At The Races LD-30

Correction: After further analysis we have revised this story to reflect that former State Representative Carol Sommers is more accurately described as a moderate Republican. We also changed the wording to reflect that fact that Frank Antenori was in the 2006 Republican Primary for CD-8 but was not specifically running against Randy Graf. In fact Frank was a strong supporter of the Republican nominee in the general election.

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.

A Day At The Races LD 30

Senate:  Current State Representative Jonathan Paton should cruise to victory in this heavily-Republican district.  While he is only in the “exploratory” stage at this time, he is the only candidate looking at the race and his mere presence has scared away any potential competition.  Even term-limited State Rep. Marian McClure has decided to pursue a Corporation
Commission seat rather than run against Paton.  In LD30, the general election is a mere formality, meaning its time for Paton to start measuring for drapes in his new office on the Senate side of the Capitol.

House:  Two open seats and a district that is known for electing conservative and liberal Republicans at the same time is creating a feeding frenzy in LD30.  Already, five candidates have filed to run.  They are Frank Antenori, Sharon Collins, David Gowan, Wayne Peate, and Doug Sposito.  Of the five, only Wayne Peate has not been a candidate for public office
before.  Collins, Gowan and Sposito are running as Clean Elections candidates while Antenori has indicated that he does not like the public financing system and Peate has deep personal pockets that might make a traditional run tempting.

Ideologically, the candidates range from Sposito and Peate on the left, to Collins in the center, to Antenori and Gowan on the right.  Of the five, Collins starts in the strongest position as the only woman in a large field. She may be more conservative than folks give her credit for, but getting to run in the center of this field may also be an advantage in a district where the winners have traditionally been a more liberal woman and a more conservative man.  Collins was a 2002 candidate for Secretary of State and, while she finished a distant third behind Jan Brewer and Sal DiCiccio, she did win in Pima County and stay close in Cochise County, indicating a base for her to start with.  She also has been working in Tom Horne’s office, which will give her a good resume to go after education voters.

Gowan, and to a lesser degree Antenori, are the logical successors to Randy Graf and Jonathan Paton.  Both are solid conservatives who look remarkably like each other in person.  Assuming voters aren’t confused by their physical and ideological similarities, one or the other could well win the second seat.  Gowan would seem to have an advantage, having run for this office before.  He actually beat both Paton and McClure in Cochise County, which also suggests a base for his campaign, but the bulk of the votes still come from Pima County, so Cochise alone will not be enough.  Gowan has also
enjoyed the endorsement of Arizona Right to Life’s PAC, which could play a large role in a close contest.  That said, outgoing Rep. McClure has a great deal of resentment against Gowan for running against her in a primary and she will certainly be working against him in 2008.

Antenori ran in the 2006 Congressional primary along with Randy Graf. Some questioned the need for two conservatives in that primary.  He raised little money and received few votes.  Still, he was the beneficiary of a great deal of free press and his personal story as a genuine war hero is still compelling.  His run against Graf aside, There is little reason to doubt that Antenori is reliably conservative on the issues.

Sposito was tagged by Marian McClure as her chosen heir, a double-edged sword in this district.  Sposito ran in 2004 and began that contest as a staunch conservative.  Wierdly, he morphed into a liberal candidate by the end of the race, which meant that neither side trusted him enough with their votes.  He finished a distant fourth.  How much McClure’s nod will mean remains to be seen.

The wildcard might well be Peate, a physician who considered running for Congress in 2006 and again in 2008.  Peate’s ideology remains the largest question mark as this blog has already reported on previous campaign contributions he has made to Rep. Pete Hershberger, the most liberal Republican in the Arizona Legislature, and Carol Somers, a moderate house candidate in LD26.  Still, it is possible that he could shake up the entire contest by making a large infusion of campaign cash, throwing wide open a contest whose results will likely last the next eight years!


  1. MiamiScott says

    I never pegged Carol Somers as a liberal–but maybe that was because she was surrounded by people like Herschberger and Toni Hellon. I suppose Hillary would look conservative in that context.

    There is some pretty good and detailed analysis here. Probably the most depth I have ever seen on LD 30.

  2. Oro Valley Dad says


    Good point. Carol is a moderate conservative compared to Hellon and a raving right-wing radical next to Hershberger.

  3. Good post except the bit about Somers being liberal. I know Carol. She actively worked on the Graf campaign and appeared in at least one of his television ads (taking heat from some for doing so). It’s been a few months, but last I saw her she was still staunchly supporting Bush. If she’s liberal I’m Marx.

    Of course what you wrote about Paton is spot on. Barring a freak development (which won’t happen) he’s got a cakewalk.

    Wayne Peate’s a terrific person who is extremely likable in an informal setting. I have not heard him address a large audience. I live in LD 28, but Wayne Peate is a Republican I would be happy to vote for.

    Antoneri might surprise you. He is his own man and thinks for himself, not exactly a popular trait among the right these days. The GOP needs more like him.

  4. I’d put Somers in the center-left camp, or as you folks in Tucson call it, a conservative!

    Not too conservative on fiscal matters, pro-choice, and relatively quiet on other social issues. A bit left of center.

  5. MiamiScott says

    Good one Tim S!

  6. Carol will not run for office again (per her statements to myself and others), but to characterize her as “left of center” is just false.

    We obviously have different concepts of center. Someone “left of center” does not work to get Randy Graf elected.

  7. I’d agree with Tim based on her voting record while in the House – her only term which was from 2001 to 2003. At the time she was the LD 13 seat mate of Gabrielle Giffords after winning election in 2000. That was a very split district covering central Tucson and then north/north east into the foothills. The registration was pretty split but there were quite a few social liberals in the GOP which tilted the ideology leftwards. I know because I ran in that district as a social and fiscal conservative in 1994 and 1996.

  8. One other thing I should mention about that district. If the liberal GOP establishment folks like Jack Jewett don’t like you, they will work against you by teaming up with Democrats. They have been notorious for taking out conservative Republicans.

  9. X4mr, I have no grudge with Carol. She seems nice enough. But working for Graf in the general election shows that she’s a team player and a nice lady, it doesn’t automatically make her a conservative. If she had worked for Graf in the primary and actively worked to elect the conservative versus the moderate (Hellon) or liberal (Huffman), then you might have been able to draw a conclusion, but she didn’t.

    I made my judgment based on her voting record. Frankly, that should carry more weight than her chipping in on somebody’s campaign during a general election.

  10. So it sounds like the conservatives should be rooting for Gowan and Antenori? That’s cool. How closely do they resemble each other anyway?

  11. Duke the Dog says

    Don’t know if the links will work inside this reply, just copy and paste in your browser and they should work.

    Here’s a picture of Gowan:


    and here’s one of Antenori:


    There’s some resemblance because they’re both “follicly challenged” other than that….???

  12. Lame edit on Antenori… He wasn’t running “against” Graf you say? Then what, he was running “with” Graf? Or perhaps he was neutral in the contest? Please, if you run in a primary with other candidate, you are running against them, period, end of story.

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