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Marquez Peterson wins GOP nod, Kirkpatrick wins CD2 Dem primary

One of the quietest races in Southern Arizona has turned out to be one of the closest, with Lea Marquez Peterson eking out a narrow lead over Brandon Martin in the CD 2 Republican primary. Among Democrats, Ann Kirkpatrick won the CD 2 race by more than 10 points.

Marquez Peterson won by about 2,700 votes, with a 33.06 to 29.1 percent lead over Brandon Martin, the closest competitor in the four-way GOP race.

Kirkpatrick led by 7,300 votes, 41 percent to 31 percent for Matt Heinz, the closest Democrat in the seven-way Democratic primary.

Marquez Peterson kept a relatively low media profile during the primary campaign, while the underfunded Martin, along with candidates Danny Morales and Casey Welch, ran at her from the right.

"We've put 110 percent into this campaign—knocking on doors, calling nonstop," Marquez Peterson told a gathering of about 50 Republicans at the Viscount Suites on Tuesday night. "Even today, from this morning to the very minute the polls closed, we made sure to get in touch with people to make sure they got their ballot in, so I'm very optimistic."

The general election is going to be "very tough battle," she said.

"I don't know yet if we're going to be facing Ann Kirkpatrick or Matt Heinz, but it's going to be a huge battle. The difference in this, is I'm a local person, I've never run before," she said Tuesday night.

As she traveled through the district, she said found that people were most interested in her background in business, but also her support of border security, the military, and CD2 representative Martha McSally, who gave up her seat to run for the Senate. "I've been a big supporter of Martha for many years," she said. "People really appreciate my focus on small business, and my focus on the economy. But, I also understand the difference between the doing business in a border town like Douglas or Nogales, versus Tucson, or compared to Phoenix which is booming."

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Kirkpatrick made a brief election-night speech to about 200 local Democrats gathered at a UA-area restaurant, Brother John's, echoing familiar themes about Medicare and Social Security, and urging Democrats to be unified: "onward to the general election."

"Tonight we saw Tucson and Cochise County speak out loud and clear," she said in an emailed press release. "Washington, DC has gone seriously off the rails. Cutting taxes for millionaires and corporations, and expecting to pay for it with cuts to Social Security and Medicare? No way. Throwing millions of Americans off of their health insurance coverage? I won't stand for it."

Democratic gubernatorial candidates Steve Farley and Kelly Fryer also spoke, prior to the first election results being released.

"We're done with Arizona being a joke on late-night television," said Farley, standing next to Fryer on the podium.

The first-time candidate, like Farley a Southern Arizona resident facing Phoenix-area candidate David Garcia for the Democratic nomination, said it's time for their party to "take no prisoners" in this election.

Garcia led Farley 49-34 percent, with Fryer garnering the support of 17 percent of Arizona Democratic voters — a bump from the pre-election polls that showed her in single digits.

In Tuesday's primary election, voters had their say in everything from party nominees to the U.S. Senate and House, governor, Arizona Corporation Commission, Legislature and other state offices, as well as mayor and council races in some towns.

Arizona officials were expecting a record turnout for Tuesday’s primary election, and they’re reassuring voters that their votes will remain secure.

“We’re estimating for the first time in Arizona’s history, the raw number of voters participating in a primary will go over a million,” said Matt Roberts, spokesman for Secretary of State Michele Reagan.

About 3.5 million Arizonans are registered to vote. State analysts believe about a third of registered voters will cast ballot in Tuesday’s primary.

Roberts said the projected turnout is not attributed to a “blue wave” of Democratic support. It’s just that Arizona’s population has jumped.

“In terms of percentage of turnout, it’s tracking similarly to other primaries,” Roberts said. “Arizona’s obviously a growing state. Generally speaking, voter registration is increasing.”

Still, people registering as Democrats outpaced Republicans in the latest counts.

The Secretary of State’s Office released registration numbers ahead of the primary showing more than 21,000 voters registering with the Democratic Party since March, and Republican voters increasing by more than 5,000. But some voters likely are independents changing party affiliation, according to analysts.

“There was a bit of a surge in AZ 8,” said Mike Noble, chief pollster with OH Predictive Insights, referring to a spike in Democratic voting in one of the state’s nine congressional districts. “Two weeks into early voting, the numbers basically evened out to what we’ve seen before.”

Noble said election day is becoming less important to Arizonans, who often vote early rather than head to the polls. Early balloting in the state began Aug. 1.

“Election day is becoming not as big of a deal,” he said.

According to the latest returns from mail-in ballots, nearly 75 percent of the 1 million expected voters in the primary already have cast their ballots.

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Paul Ingram/TucsonSentinel.com

Lea Marquez Peterson awaits election returns Tuesday night.