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Updated Aug 29, 2012, 2:24 am
Most Southern Arizona races shaped up as expected in Tuesday's primary election.
Ron Barber will face Martha McSally in the general election, and Raul Grijavla will defend his seat against Gabriela Saucedo Mercer.
"The last election was about the past. This election is about the future," McSally told supporters at an East Side Radisson hotel.
In CD2, Republican McSally bested political newcomer Mark Koskiniemi 82-18 percent, while U.S. Rep. Ron Barber led challenger Matt Heinz, a state legislator, by a similar 65 points.
In CD 3, U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva also coasted to victory, with 66 percent of the vote over challengers Amanda Aguirre (25 percent) and Manny Arreguin (9 percent).
"This victory was terribly sweet," said Grijalva of his win in the first primary in which he's ever faced opponents since being elected.
Republican Jeff Flake will face Democratic candidate Richard Carmona in the U.S. Senate race.
Flake, a sitting congressman, beat out Prescott businessman Wil Cardon in the Republican Senate primary, 69-21 percent. Carmona, a former U.S. surgeon general, was unchallenged in his primary.
In wide-ranging CD1, Jonathan Paton easily bested three GOP opponents, taking 61 percent of the vote in a political comeback. Paton lost a GOP primary to Jesse Kelly in CD8 two years ago.
The Democratic side of CD1 saw a comeback as well; Ann Kirkpatrick got the nod from 64 percent of CD1 voters, over 36 percent for Wenona Benally Baldenegro. Kirkpatrick lost her congressional seat two years ago.
The race between Kirkpatrick and Paton is poised to attract national attention—and dollars.
Both sides of the aisle saw candidates tout their military experience.
Carmona, who served in Vietnam before becoming a doctor and U.S. surgeon general, called on voters to "return me to active duty."
The Democratic Senate candidate lamented what he called "corrosive" politics, and said, "We've lost too many centrist statesmen and -women."
McSally told her supporters that after 26 years of serving in the U.S. Air Force it was now time for her to stand up again and serve her nation as a representative of Southern Arizona.
McSally was a late entrant in the special election earlier this year to fill the seat vacated by Gabrielle Giffords. Although she didn't win her party's support in that election, she carried momentum into this election for the newly created CD2 district—a campaign that was boosted when twice-defeated Kelly declined to run again.
"The last election was about the past. This election is about the future," McSally said, joking that her previous race lasted a total of only 68 days, less time than exists between now and the November election.
Barber wasted little time in moving ahead with his general election campaign, echoing the themes that brought him a win over Kelly in the special election earlier this year.
"I respect Martha McSally’s service to our country. But the policies she supports will not help rebuild the middle class or protect essential programs for seniors," Barber said.
"She has said she would vote for the Paul Ryan budget plan that would make massive cuts in Medicare... She’s pledged to keep tax breaks for corporations that ship American jobs overseas. Her plans will just make life harder for the middle class," he said.
Mercer charges 'race baiting'
Gabriela Saucedo Mercer easily defeated Jaime Vasquez in the Republican primary in CD3, with 64 percent of the vote.
Mercer denied media reports that she said Middle Eastern immigrants— illegal or legal—want to harm the United States, calling them "race baiting."
She claimed she never said that, and challenged critics to "watch the 14-minute video and decide for yourself who is the racist here. They spliced a bunch of interviews together" to come up with those comments, she said.
"Desperate people do desperate things. It makes me very upset," she said.
In a video posted by the right-wing WesternFreePress.com, Mercer told an interviewer:
"Middle Easterners, a lot of them, they look Mexican, or they look like a lot of people in South America, with dark skin, dark hair, brown eyes - and they mix. They mix in. And those people, their only goal in life is to cause harm to the United States. So why do we want them here, either legally or illegally?"
Mercer, who immigrated from Mexico in the mid-1980s, said she can't beat Grijalva's name recognition, but can do more to solve the immigration issue. And she echoed her blasts at the congressman's 2010 call for a boycott of Arizona over SB 1070.
Mercer said that action cost 27,000 jobs after dozens of conventions and conferences planned in Arizona were canceled.
"It was his people, in the district, who (were among those who) lost jobs," she said.
Her key issues going forward to the general election are "jobs, the economy and the immigration issue." She said her candidacy represents change for the district. "The voters want change, real change," she said at a GOP gathering at Midtown restaurant El Parador.
For his part, Grijalva gave a wry smile when asked Tuesday night about Mercer's comments regarding Middle Eastern immigrants.
"I think she just ended her campaign right there," he said.
"I'm just going to let her define herself," he said of Mercer's repeated charges that Grijalva is a socialist and communist.
Mercer's policy proposals are "horribly extreme," said Grijalva. "It's unbelievable that Arizonans would vote for her."
Napier targets Dupnik
Mark Napier beat out four other GOP candidates in the primary race for Pima County sheriff, pulling 43 percent of the vote in the crowded race.
Napier said his win is due to his team's work on the ground. "A candidate is only as good as his team," he said.
Napier said "our message is simple. It's time for a new sheriff, a visible, dynamic engaged, sheriff."
Not only does he say he wants to re-establish the office of sheriff with a visible leader, Napier said that if he beats Democrat incumbent Clarence Dupnik in November, he will be "much more cooperative and communicative" with other law enforcement agencies "in the valley" and "increase the dialogue with border sheriffs as well."
But Napier faces an uphill battle against Dupnik; the sheriff was first elected in 1980.
About 23 percent of Arizona voters cast a primary ballot. In Pima County, voter turnout was nearly 31 percent.
Turnout was light during the day, but nearly 50 percent of the early ballots mailed out were returned by Monday, according the Pima County Recorder's Office. Over 117,000 of the 222,000 early ballots requested by voters had been returned.
Given the number of early ballots cast, the night's winners were known quickly. While a number of mail-in ballots were dropped off at the polls on Election Day—Pima County Democratic Party Chairman Jeff Rogers said one-third of Tuesday's ballots were dropped off—no races were close enough to still be in question.
Many of the top-of-ballot races were considered forgone conclusions, with Republican McSally and incumbent Democrat Barber heavily favored to win in the CD2 primary—as was long-time U.S. Rep. Grijalva in CD3.
The final outcome of several local races was determined Tuesday, as they feature contested primaries in one party, but no candidate from the other parties.
The offices that were all-but-officially filled in the primary are:
Carroll said the Republican primary campaign was "an attack-filled, dirty campaign." He condemned Collins' campaign rhetoric, saying he issued "distortions of my record and outright lies. But baseless lies do not make a campaign."
Carroll, who doesn't face a Democratic challenger, said he will work on some other GOP campaigns over the next few months, supporting candidates he'd like to see win in November, including Jeff Flake, Beth Ford and Jonathan Paton.
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Arzoumanian, a 13-year incumbent Pima County School superintendent, said early in the evening she did not know what the outcome of the Republican primary would be.
"You never can tell. People want to get rid of incumbents. The Tea Party had some candidates. I'll tell you what, I'm very happy," she said, as the votes were tallied and she emerged as the winner.
Of her opponent, Mace Bravin, she said. "This gentleman had some issues."
Arzoumanian said some people don't understand that she "has a lot of responsibilities" and none of them involve changing laws.
"We don't make laws. We are constituent services," she said. "We don't determine curriculum."
Other candidates, such as Democratic state Sen. Linda Lopez, faced neither primary nor general election challengers.
Election results will be released beginning at 8 p.m.
U.S. Senator (Rep.)
|VAN STEENWYK, CLAIR||23,660||5.64%|
U.S. Senator (Dem.)
U.S. Rep. - District 1 (Rep.)
U.S. Rep. - District 1 (Dem.)
|BENALLY BALDENEGRO, WENONA||16,786||35.81%|
U.S. Rep. - District 2 (Rep.)
U.S. Rep. - District 2 (Dem.)
U.S. Rep. - District 3 (Rep.)
|SAUCEDO MERCER, GABRIELA||10,134||63.97%|
U.S. Rep. - District 3 (Dem.)
|GRIJALVA, RAÚL M.||20,145||65.85%|
Corporation Commissioner (Rep.)
|BITTER SMITH, SUSAN||264,540||32.88%|
|BURNS, ROBERT 'BOB'||255,357||31.74%|
Corporation Commissioner (Dem.)
Contested S. Az primaries
State Senator - District 3 (Dem.)
|CAJERO BEDFORD, OLIVIA||8,664||66.88%|
State Rep. - District 4 (Dem. / Vote for 2)
|ESCAMILLA, JUAN CARLOS ''J.C.''||2,950||31.14%|
|FERNANDEZ, CHARLENE R.||3,091||32.63%|
State Rep. - District 8 (Dem. / Vote for 2)
State Rep. - District 9 (Dem. / Vote for 2)
|SIDHWA, MOHUR SARAH||10,510||35.02%|
State Rep. - District 10 (Dem. / Vote for 2)
Other statewide primaries of interest
State Sen. - District 24 (Dem.)
State Rep. - District 24 (Dem. / Vote for 2)
|MCDERMOTT, JEAN CHEUVRONT||2,471||16.08%|
State Sen. - District 25 (Rep.)
Pima County primaries
Board of Supervisors - District 1 (Rep.)
|MCDANIEL, STUART W.||1,905||8.77%|
Board of Supervisors - District 4 (Rep.)
|COLLINS, SEAN E.||9,201||42.36%|
|FREDERICK, TERRY A.||9,368||15.82%|
|MANNING, CHESTER C.||8,902||15.04%|
|NAPIER, MARK D.||25,615||43.27%|
|SETZER, WALTER M.||6,370||10.76%|
County Sup't of Schools (Rep.)
|ARZOUMANIAN, LINDA L||30,111||54.32%|
|BRAVIN, MACE B.||25,162||45.40%|
Maria Coxon Smith contributed to this report.