Election Review: Good News for Arizona Conservatives

Any recount of the results of Election Night are likely to set off another round of comments as to how great or horrible State GOP Chairman Randy Pullen did, and judging from the comments on some other current threads, there are those who will continue fighting the same fight they have been fighting for the last nearly two years.  That said, while election night was rough on Republicans across the nation, conservatives had a very good night in Arizona.  That this success did not extend to the Congressional level or to more left-leaning Republicans tells another story as well.

First, the easy way to keep score.  In spite of being outspent anywhere from 5-1 to nearly 20-1 depending on the race, conservative Republicans beat back the Democrat wave and actually INCREASED their numbers at the State Legislature.  While the Democrats were measuring for drapes and Lujan and Sinema were making plans for liberal legislation, Republicans were out-working and out-hustling their Democrat opponents.  There were several notable victories, starting in LD10 where Doug Quelland regained his seat, beating Jackie Thrasher.  Thrasher won two years ago by nearly 300 votes and the Democrats had gained more than 1,000 votes in terms of voter registration.  But as of tonight, Quelland was still leading by more than 600 votes.

The GOP also successfully defended open seats in LD9 (Lesko), LD12 (Montenegro), LD25 (Stevens), LD26 (Williams) and both LD30 seats (Gowan and Antenori), each in spite of Democrat/Union spending in excess of $100,000 per district and in excess of $200,000 in some cases.  The GOP captured a Pinal county seat (Pratt) that had been held by Pete Rios and made numerous other gains in Pinal County that has that county colored purple after more than 100 blue years.  The GOP recaptured a Yuma seat, and conservatives all over the state are celebrating Al Melvin’s apparent victory in LD26, capturing an 18th State Senate seat for Republicans.

Some of these races are especially significant.  In LD12, Steve Montenegro is a conservative Hispanic Republican, possibly the first such candidate ever elected to the State Legislature.  Democrats, likely recognizing the threat that a competent ambassador into that community would pose, spent heavily, even running a party-switching pro-life Republican in an effort to woo voters.  Credit goes to Montenegro and his running-mate State Representative Jerry Weiers for running a hard and professional race.  Additional credit has to go to LD12’s new State Senator John Nelson who set a good example of politics as a team sport. He had worked to elect Weiers and Montenegro’s opponent in the House primary, but teamed up with the Republicans who won and helped the team to victory.

In LD25, most Republicans had given up on holding the Jennifer Burns seat, and the Democrats were very confident of recapturing it.  What they did not count on was a very strong campaign turned in by David Stevens’ campaign team, led by Gail Griffin.  Stevens himself was in Kuwait for most of the campaign, working in support of our troops in Iraq.  For some strange reason, the Democrats decided to attack him for his absence, and that certainly backfired on them.

In LD26, Vic Williams represents an improvement over Pete Hershberger, but then again, who wouldn’t?  It remains to be seen how conservative Williams will be and early reviews are decidedly mixed.  But GOP sources in Southern Arizona report that Williams was largely a team player during the campaign and they expect much the same from him at the Legislature.  That, in itself, is already a huge improvement over Hershberger.

But the greatest difference is Al Melvin’s election to the State Senate.  Melvin is not yet claiming victory because his lead is just over 1,300 votes and there are plenty of votes left to count, but three days of counting have done little to dent his lead and his victory seems pretty solid.  Melvin is a terrific blend of myriad backgrounds.  A conservative Republican, Melvin is a veteran, a successful businessman, and a teacher.  Three groups that represent critical portions of the electorate.  While local media bemoan what they perceive as a “loss of influence” for Southern Arizona with the political passing of Pete Hershberger, the reality is that Hershberger got scraps from the Governor’s table in exchange for selling out his own caucus.  Melvin will deliver a far better product for his district by working with the majority rather than against it.  When you combine his election with Steve Pierce knocking out Tom O’Halleran in LD1, Republicans in the State Senate can no longer be held hostage by RINO Carolyn Allen, who now faces her final two years in the Arizona Legislature as an afterthought.

Finally, in LD30, Marian McClure reached term limits and ended up in last place in the ACC race, while LD30 voters upgraded to Frank Antenori and David Gowan, two solid, platform-Republicans, who withstood more than $200,000 in Democrat expenditures to hold these seats.  Gowan and Antenori, teaming up with new State Senator Jonathan Paton, will finally give Southern Arizona a delegation that can give the rest of the LDs a real race for the crown for ratings from taxpayer groups.  You hear that LD4?  Southern Arizona is coming to get you!  Who would have thought we would ever get to say that?

The night’s big losers?  Napolitano’s election team, the media establishment, the teachers unions, the firefighters unions, and GOP consultant Nathan Sproul.  Napolitano’s team had a horrible year in both the primaries and general and spent a fortune, with nothing to show for it.  Membership in the unions, especially the firefighters, need to seriously rethink their bosses decisions to make their respective unions wholly –owned subsidiaries of the Democrat Party.  The police unions play both sides and never know the political Siberia that the firefighters are about to find themselves in.  When you go “all in” and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to try and convince the voters that the Republicans wants kids to die, you better hope you win.  They didn’t win, and the bill will come due.  And Sproul also spent a fortune, albeit not his own, and also ended up with nothing to show for it.  Voters rejected his candidates in the primaries, Tim Bee in the general (although we get conflicting reports on how involved he was there and whether or not his influence was curtailed earlier in the campaign), and both the Majority Rules and Stop Illegal Hiring voter initiatives.  Each enjoyed massive financial advantages over the opposition campaigns, yet each was soundly defeated.

Congrats to the winners and a “Job Well Done” to their respective campaigns.  Winning as Republicans in 2008 was not an easy thing to do.  And expanded Republican majorities in a tough year like this one bodes well for 2010 when the glow from Obama’s halo burns less brightly and folks have recovered their senses.


  1. Hmmm.

    Good post, and AZ GOP indeed has cause for satisfaction, for now perhaps. I still have the sense of watching chairs and fine dining well arranged on a ship having just survived an annoying scrape with an iceberg.

    Are you really paying attention? Hint: Voter registration statistics, and what are the sentiments of voters under 30? The operative word, of course, is voter.

    Yes, they did.

  2. Janet-head of Democratic National Committee

  3. Okay, now that everybody is done patting themselves on the back…fix the budget. And don’t do this wussy “lump sum cuts” thing either. Make some genuine policy choices…Reduce the size of the beast…Just fix it…

  4. State Senator Jack Harper says

    RE: ” You hear that LD4? Southern Arizona is coming to get you!”

    I’ll be coming to see Southern Arizona, soon:

    Senator considers run for secretary of state
    Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services

    The head of the Senate Government Committee has taken the first steps to a possible run for secretary of state.

    Sen. Jack Harper, R-Surprise, has formed an exploratory committee for the 2010 race.

    That allows him to start collecting money without running afoul of Arizona’s “resign to run” law which prohibits elected officials from becoming official candidates for another office more than one year before the end of their term. Harper was just re-elected to a fourth two-year term in the Senate.

    Harper denied that the move, which comes while ballots from this race are still being counted, is a political maneuver designed to deter other Republicans from running for the post.

    “This is just an exploratory committee to decide if that’s a direction I should go,” he said.

    But Harper will have to do something other than be a senator after 2010, as the Arizona Constitution limits him to eight consecutive years in that chamber.

    No one else has taken any steps yet toward seeking the secretary of state post.

    Harper is particularly interested in the job’s duties as Arizona’s chief election officer.

    Harper acknowledged that the role of the state’s chief elections officer provides only limited power to actually direct how each of the state’s 15 counties, with their own elected recorders, conduct voting. But Harper said the law does give the secretary of state oversight over the conduct of all elections.

    “Some would say the position is more of a watchdog than a dog that has bite,” he said. “The secretary of state is someone who actually has to have the spine to stand there and make sure that integrity is not going to be trampled in the courts to open our elections system up to fraud,” he said.

    Jan Brewer, the current secretary of state, used her position to defend laws approved by voters in 2004 to require proof of citizenship to register and identification to cast a ballot at the polls. Brewer, first elected in 2002, cannot run for re-election again because of term limits.

  5. A survey of long ‘owned’ Democrat states show a general decline (in numerous areas, economic, crime ets.,)and if an individual had to make a move, would likly not consider any of them for a new residence. That said, Arizona residents (many of whom are former Dem controlled California residents) have opted for the conservative Rep-run residence. Arizona can expect a reversal of credit-card governance. I expect that our unemployment will not equal the nation’s average and tho’ we will not be exempt from the ‘depression’ in its entirety, we may not experience as low a ‘depression’.

    I appreciate the well covered analytic article. Thanks!

  6. Huh, Jack, we already knew this.

  7. “Harper denied that the move, which comes while ballots from this race are still being counted, is a political maneuver designed to deter other Republicans from running for the post.”

    Hardly! If anything Harper’s declaration will encourage others to run!

  8. Jack,

    Just send me the press release next time. I’ll make sure it gets posted.

    Sonoran Alliance

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