One Word in Arizona Races: Immigration
In many states where Democrats face difficulties this year, the liberal agenda of Obama is the motivation behind the electorate uprising. Its a series of things- the auto bail out, stimulus package, Obamacare, etc. They all point to the government doing way to much way too fast with money they don’t have. No one denies that something had to be done regarding the economy, but the scope and ultimate failure, not to mention the absolute pork, of the Obama stimulus was way too much! No one denies that health care in America was in need of reform, especially for those currently insured and facing ever-increasing premiums. But it took 2000 pages to do what could have been achieved with greater success in about 40 pages, not to mention the process. Likewise with Wall Street reform and how several pages dedicated to virtual affirmative action provisions will prevent financial meltdowns and risky bank transactions will “reform” Wall Street boggles the mind. In each and every case, it was one of overkill. Yet, in Arizona, it is Federal underkill in an area they are Constitutionally mandated to control- immigration.
Before the Arizona Senate passed their immigration enforcement law and it was signed by incumbent Republican Governor Jan Brewer, her numbers against Terry Goddard were floundering. Since then, along with her legal battle with the Federal government, she has surged to a fairly consistent 13 point lead in the polls. That has tightened since given her alleged floundering in a recent debate which translate into very little ado about nothing. She is still projected to win. And in a state where Democrats honestly believed they had the right candidate to topple Brewer, it has had the opposite effect.
Likewise, incumbent Republican Senator John McCain had to expend a lot of cash to fend off his challenger in the primary who made immigration the number one policy issue in Arizona. McCain currently holds a 17 point lead over Rodney Glassman and should cruise to re-election. But one would expect that a fairly popular incumbent Senator who recently ran for President would poll a little higher. The fact is that his primary opponent did more to tarnish the McCain aura than Glassman ever could. By focusing on immigration policy and McCain’s tendency towards “comprehensive reform,” which many read as a codeword for amnesty, McCain’s standing among conservatives, never his strong point, took another hit. So McCain had to seriously tack to the right on this issue in order to win his party’s primary. The problem is that McCain now comes out looking less the maverick and more the hypocrite.
Another thing in the back of the minds of voters is McCain’s Presidential run, specifically the failed ploy of leaving the campaign trail to rush in on his white horse into Washington during the financial crisis. That more than any other thing in the 2008 election hurt his chances the most significantly. It was a calculated political ploy that seriously backfired. So although McCain will prevail, his image among Republicans- both conservative and moderate- is now tarnished. This should be McCain’s final six years in the Senate and his votes should be watched.
Of Arizona’s eight Congressional districts, five are held by Democrats. Two of the Republican incumbents- Trent Franks in the 2nd and Jeff Flake in the 6th- are safe. Incumbent John Shaddeg is retiring in the 3rd district. However, the district is sufficiently Republican that Ben Quayle should prevail here. Even the Democratic Party early on decided not to invest that greatly in taking over the district.
Of the five Democratic districts, perhaps only the 4th and the 7th districts are safe- Ed Pastor and Paul Grijalva, respectively. In the other three districts, Ann Kirkpatrick was targeted early by Republicans given her votes in favor of Obama initiatives. She currently trails challenger Paul Gosar by about three points and this may very well be a Republican pick-up. Possibly the best chance of a Republican pick up is in the 5th district where incumbent Harry Mitchell trails Republican challenger Dave Schweikert by 7 points. And if momentum decides these close races, the edge goes to Schweikert. Finally in the 8th district, incumbent Gabrielle Giffords faces a serious challenge from Jesse Kelly, who also has the backing of the Tea Party Express. Kelly currently leads by a single point. In fact, this may be the best bet for the Democratic Party in Arizona Congressional races.
One final word about Arizona. The state is projected to possibly pick up an additional seat in the House after results of the Senate are announced. Most likely, some of these Democratic held districts which encompass some of Arizona’s major population areas and sprawling suburbs, will be targeted for reapportionment. In addition to the large Hispanic population of Arizona, it would behoove the Republican Party in Arizona to start recruiting viable, electable Hispanic Republicans (yes, Howard Dean, they do exist) looking 2-4 years down the road.