There is a gubernatorial and some congressional races of interest in Arizona this year. Obviously, immigration and border security plays a large role in Arizona politics. Before getting to the crowded gubernatorial race, there are four Republican primaries in the House races.
The 1st Congressional District is one of those districts represented by a Democrat, but won by Romney in 2012 thus making it a viable target. Ann Kirkpatrick won this seat in 2012 in a close race against Jonathan Paton. This year, it will be one of the following: Gary Kiehne, Adam Kwasman, or Andy Tobin. Before we totally dismiss Kwasman for bungling a Twitter entry, keep this is perspective. He took a picture of a school bus and mistakenly labeled it a bus with illegal immigrant children. This should be an important lesson to ALL politicians: put away the cell phone cameras and stay off of Twitter! Kwasman has been somewhat aggressive in going after his primary competition Andy Tobin, accusing him of supporting amnesty for illegal immigrants. To Tobin's credit, he was commenting on John McCain's support for immigration reform at the time. Taken in their totality, this writer would support the candidacy of Adam Kwasman in this race.
Although smaller geographically and comprising the southeast corner of the state and about 75% of Tuscon, the Second District is identically rated +3 GOP by Cook, but represented by a Democrat- Ron Barber. He beat Martha McSally in 2012 by less than 3,000 votes in a district also won by Romney that year. The three candidates in this year's Republican primary are Martha McSally again, Shelley Kais and Chuck Wooten. This would appear to be McSally's primary to win and if she receives any competition, it will be from Kais. Given her performance in 2012, the fact there is no Obama at the top of the ticket (even though Romney won the district), and her stances thus far on the major issues, I would be inclined to support Martha McSally here. It should be noted that McSally's website is long on rhetoric and short on specifics in certain areas
Arizona's 8th District is represented by Republican Trent Franks. This is a reliably Republican district with Romney easily winning it in 2012 and Franks had an easy time also that year. He will be opposed by a local Tea Party activist, Claire Van Steenwyk. The question is "Why?" Franks is perhaps one of the most conservative Republican members of the House. Although there would be no down-side to Van Steenwyk since the District covers the more conservative suburbs of Phoenix, this writer sees no reason to shift course just for the sake of it and therefore would endorse Trent Franks.
The final district is the new 9th District. Cook rates this nominally at +1 Republican although I have it 1.5 Democratic. Still, it is ripe for the taking. It is currently represented by Democrat Krysten Sinema, perhaps one of the most "interesting" members of Congress given her background. She is the first openly bisexual member of Congress. But, that is not a reason to dislike her. Instead, it is her liberal politics that should be subject of criticism. Wendy Rogers and Andrew Walter are the two Republicans vying to take her on in November. Both would be excellent upgrades over Sinema. Going with Rogers would create a female vs. female general election (takes that war on women crap sort of off the table). Ideologically, there is little difference between Walter and Rogers. Rogers has raised a respectable $700,000+ so far which is good since Sinema is heavily financed by liberal outlets and PACs. I would not have a major objection to Walter, but this writer is going with Wendy Rogers. Plus no offense to Andrew Walter, but Wendy Rogers is helluva a lot better good looking than Krysten Sinema.
As for the gubernatorial race, it is definitely a crowded field, but it really comes down to two candidates, although a third- ex-Mesa mayor Scott Smith- would have made a good candidate. However, he waited until January to enter the race. Under normal circumstances that would seem like a late entry, but it should be remembered that Arizona holds a relatively late primary. Still, Bennett and Ducey had begun their campaigns back in 2013 giving them more time to raise funds and get their message out. Even still, in a recent poll in July, Smith had made up some ground and was polling close to Doug Ducey. Additionally, several Arizona newspapers have come out in support of Smith.
Conversely, Arizona secretary of state Ken Bennett has been polling in the opposite direction. At the end of 2013, he was the front runner, but has now drifted back behind Smith and even former Go Daddy! CEO Christine Jones. Unfortunately for Bennett, Smith's entry into the race, savvy campaigning by Jones and a surge by Ducey, and his past actions have all but doomed his chances. Bennett is seen as one of the leading "birthers" in Arizona who tried to keep Obama's name off the ballot. This controversy that never should have been is coming back to haunt him in this campaign.
Thus, among the three, the most likely winner, and the one I would support is state treasury secretary Doug Ducey. He is probably best known for ruffling the feathers of Arizona teacher unions by opposing Proposition 204 which would have made permanent a 1-cent sales tax increase. Because of his opposition, that temporary tax increase remained temporary and expired in 2013. Naturally, the liberals and the unions in Arizona did what they do best in such circumstances- they trot out the kids holding signs to tell the public what an evil man Doug Ducey really is. That alone would give him my vote.
But, it goes beyond that. The more I researched, the more I found him associated with leaders that I happen to like and respect, not only for their principles, but because they actually achieved things as Governors of states. Those people are Mike Pence and Mitch Daniels in Indiana and Scott Walker in Wisconsin. In fact, Ducey has the endorsement of Scott Walker. And Ducey has the possibility of uniting the disparate voices in the Republican Party. He has received the endorsements of John Kyl and Trent Franks along with the aforementioned Walker, and most recently Sarah Palin. Many politicians cannot make that same claim (Tom Cotton in Arkansas comes to mind as a possibility).
Arizona is an important state going forward through this decade. Demographic changes have the potential to one day make this a battleground state on the national level. It is important that it remain in Republican control. The Democrats are running Fred DuVal, the former Chairman of the Arizona Board of Regents. As the primary approaches, Jones has launched attack ads through third party independent groups that some suspect have ties to the Quayle family, although the group denies it. These negative attacks ads using so-called "dark money" to attack Ducey for his alleged use of "dark money" in his run for state treasurer are, to the say the least, a little hypocritical.
In the final analysis, being the CEO of Go Daddy! may not be the background one needs to run a state as diverse as Arizona. Being a state treasurer, a state secretary of state, or a mayor of a growing thriving city is the background that is needed. Of the three meeting that latter criteria, the best choice is Doug Ducey.