With the end of the legislative session, rumors have begun swirling that Senate Democrats have approached Republican State Representative Pete Hershberger to gauge his interest in running for the State Senate as a Democrat. The current State Senator for LD26 is Democrat Charlene Pesquiera, who won a narrow and surprising victory in 2006 over the Republican nominee Al Melvin. Most observers believe that no one was more surprised than Pesquiera, that she cannot win a rematch against Melvin, and that she has no intention of serving more than one term.
In the meantime, Hershberger is term-limited in the State House and is not anxious to run in a primary against Melvin, who thrashed the old incumbent, Toni Hellon, in the 2006 GOP primary.Hershberger owns by far the most liberal voting record of any Republican in the Arizona State Legislature and he is quite vocal about his liberal policies, taking pride in fighting against tax cuts and for tax increases. His Second Amendment record is an unbroken streak of “F” grades from the NRA and his lifelong pattern of voting with Democrats to defeat Republican bills has earned him the moniker “the Democrat’s favorite Republican.” A voting record more out of touch with primary voters than Toni Hellon’s doesn’t bode well for Hershberger, especially considering that Melvin beat Hellon by more than 13 points (10,924 to 8,303).Making things worse for Hershberger, Melvin is out of the gate early and garnering support from increasing numbers of party activists and many of LD26’s more moderate PCs. So it makes sense that Hershberger would listen to any plan that allows him to avoid a Republican primary in exchange for the full organization and financial support of the Arizona Democratic Party.
Of course, Hershberger’s family roots in the Republican Party are very deep, so no one can predict at this stage what will happen.