Warnings about a fragile democracy hit home for some Arizona voters as election deniers compete for key offices
Election deniers vie for key elected positions in Arizona, including the governor
January 15, 2018
PHOENIX—It was a day of high hopes and high anxiety for Republican primary voters in Arizona, who were hoping to elect a woman, a Latino, an African-American and a Libertarian to statewide office.
The outcome of Tuesday’s election showed how daunting these races proved to be for the general electorate. But those high stakes paled in comparison to what was at stake in the primary elections for governor and secretary of state—and the way the outcome of those races may be changing the state’s makeup for years to come.
The biggest loser in Tuesday’s contests was the Republican nominee for governor, Steve Heltsley. In fact, his loss of the nomination was so definitive that it should not have affected the statewide race for governor to the extent it did.
Heltsley, the candidate for the state Senate, trailed by a very slim margin in all three contests. In the governor race, he won only in Pima County, which stretches the southwestern edge of the state. In the secretary of state race, he won only in Maricopa County, which contains the major urban centers in the state.
In each of those contests, a Republican opponent was not defeated; three Republican incumbents won. But the fact that a key state senator, Martha McSally, lost a primary race in a state where Democrats have a majority of registered voters was significant. In this case, McSally’s primary defeat was not a total loss. She won the second round of voting, and therefore will stay on the November ballot should another Republican remain at large to face her in the general election.
The races for governor, secretary of state and the U.S. Senate—where Democrats have a majority of registered voters—show a strong Republican edge in those states, but that edge is also shrinking. That is especially true in Arizona, which will likely elect its next U.S. senator in 2019 with a Republican majority in the upper house of the legislature and a Republican governor.
“If you look at the statewide races,