Months of relentless pounding assuredly depressed the vote totals of conservative congressional candidates David Schweikert and Matt Salmon, among other conservative hopefuls.
So their hard-earned victories in Tuesday’s GOP primary election were all the more remarkable. Not all conservative candidates were as fortunate.
Salmon served his EastValley congressional district from 1994 to 2000, then retired from Congress. However when his successor Jeff Flake decided to abandon the House and run for Jon Kyl’s U.S. Senate seat, Salmon jumped back into politics.
For months, Salmon enjoyed huge leads in the polling. But then Sen. Kyl inserted himself into the race, claiming it was time to “turn things over” to former legislator Kirk Adams. Kyl and Adams mounted a steady barrage of negative advertising, trying to brand Salmon as a supporter of ObamaCare. The gap closed, the competition escalated.
After last night’s vote counting, Salmon had won 53.68 percent of the vote, to Adams’ 46.24 percent. Vote counting continues for a few more days, but Adams has no chance of catching Salmon.
For a retiring senator, Kyl was very busy directing traffic in this year’s primary elections. He also said “it’s time to turn things over to Ben Quayle” — son of the former vice-president Dan Quayle. That led to another bombardment of a solid conservative, Quayle’s congressional opponent David Schweikert.
Rather than run in his own district, Congressman Quayle moved into Schweikert’s home district turf to seek a new portal to Washington. So it was incumbent vs. incumbent. And Quayle’s invasion sought to destroy Schweikert in the same way General Lee marched into Gettysburg in hopes of destroying the Army of the Potomac.
Senators Kyl and John McCain joined Quayle in constant radio and TV propaganda – launching a seemingly endless barrage of false portrayals likening Schweikert to a hardcore leftist in the Obama mold. They borrowed the playbook of liberal Republican Susan Bitter-Smith, who had savagely trashed Schweikert in the 2010 primary A good argument can be made that all the negative campaigning lowered Schweikert’s vote totals in 2010 and again this year. Quayle, who has a controversial past with a sexual-oriented website, also drew the dubious support of GoDaddy.com, the purveyor of racy Super Bowl ads.
Through the political artillery shelling, Schweikert maintained his dignity and stuck to the high ground. He did not resort to the gutter tactics of his opponents. He took 52.55 percent of the vote.
We keep endorsing Schweikert because he’s the real deal. In this congressional race, Schweikert was the more mature, seasoned veteran of the two. His performance in the House has been excellent. And we’d like to see him succeed McCain in the Senate in the very near future.
In yet another example of negative campaign interjection by McCain and Kyl, the two men who call the shots in Arizona’s Republican Party handpicked Jeff Flake for the Senate. Flake did little articulation on his own behalf, leaving the destruction of conservative foe Wil Cardon to Kyl and anonymous commercial narrators. Cardon spent $7 million to draw 20 percent of the vote. Flake spent $4.3 million trashing Cardon, and then admitted late Tuesday night “are few distinctions” among primary rivals! Anyone following his campaign advertising for the last several months could never find Flake’s comment believable – based on the character assassination of Cardon as an opponent of Pelosian proportions.
Flake will have a difficult general election battle against Democrat Richard Carmona. And though we have never endorsed Flake (he supports the ENDA agenda pushed by homosexual activists, and he’s long been on the wrong side of the border invasion fence), we’re forced to reluctantly support his election in November. Because in order for the Republicans to capture the U.S. Senate and overturn ObamaCare, every seat is absolutely essential. And we cannot afford to lose the seat long occupied by Kyl.
When it came to negative campaigning of Olympian levels, Arizona Senator Rich Crandall stood high on the medal stand. With a garage-sized closet full of political skeletons, Crandall also portrayed his opponent—Arizona Representative John Fillmore—as the second coming of Barack Hussein Obama. Surely taxing the U.S. Postal Service to the max, Crandall stuffed Mesa mailboxes with a steady stream of hit piece direct mail flyers attacking his conservative opponent. It is to Fillmore’s credit that he came within 561 votes despite the beat-down he took.
Crandall will not get a fall endorsement for us. We simply cannot support someone who showed up at the Senate one-third of the time (he took a part-time job that was more like full-time compared to his rare appearances at the Senate), whose daughter illegally removed a Fillmore sign, who threatened Arizona Rep. Brenda Barton with political recriminations for having the audacity to witness the daughter’s illegal act, and who lied to local media about Barton. The tone of Crandall’s auto-dialer message attacking Fillmore was downright chilling and incendiary. This is clearly a man who could benefit from anger management classes — on his own time and dime, not on yours as a taxpayer-funded public official. We advise the Senate president to take attendance closely next winter and report back to the citizens who’s ditching and who’s not. Senate President Steve Pierce did not do that last term. We will be watching Crandall and Senate votes very closely this time.
Additional GOP congressional primary winners were: incumbents Trent Franks and Paul Gosar, along with newcomers, Gabriela Saucedo Mercer, Vernon Parker, Martha McSally and former state legislator Jonathan Paton.
Elections have a way of dividing loyalties among like-minded people. Especially in Mormon-heavy Mesa and Gilbert. Nearly a decade ago, Matt Salmon’s wife Nancy and Carol Soelberg teamed up in a major volunteer grassroots effort to rally support for marriage, life and family, on behalf of United Families International’s (UFI) Arizona chapter. They were a dynamic duo then, but on opposite sides of last night’s congressional election. Now the president of Mesa-based UFI, Soelberg is the mother-in-law of Kirk Adams, who ran for Congress against Matt Salmon. … Long-time liberal legislator Ken Cheuvront can only watch the general election returns as a spectator this fall. He lost to fellow left-winger Katie Hobbs in the Legislative District 24 primary. … The good news is that Kyrsten Sinema, the most radical politician in Arizona history, quit the state legislature to run for Congress. The bad news is she won her primary and will face Parker for a seat in Washington. If elected, Sinema will surely embarrass the citizens of Arizona with her salty language and far-out politics.