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Republicans crowding into CD 2 primary

GOP voters will have a choice between candidates running to fill the congressional seat being left open by U.S. Rep. Martha McSally after all: four more candidates hopped into the primary race over the last couple weeks, joining Lea Marquez Peterson in the CD 2 race.

They are: Brandon Martin, Danny Morales, Casey Welch and Marilyn Wiles.

While Marquez Peterson may have an edge in name recognition and a couple of months of fundraising banked up, the four are hoping to challenge her for the lead.

Who might join the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce on the GOP side of the race has been a favorite topic among political watchers over the last few months. It seemed unlikely that a primary for an open seat might be a single shot; Tea Party candidates have been frequent flyers in the Southeastern Arizona congressional district over the past decade.

With Marquez Peterson representing the business wing of the party, it seemed natural for a more strident conservative voice to make the jump.

But the question is, will any of the new candidates — who are mostly political newcomers — be heard by enough voters to win the primary?

While a parade of former right-wing candidates have declined to enter the race or haven't yet made up their minds, one of the more frequently floated names was Danny Morales, who has filed to run.

A Navy veteran, Morales was a deputy with the Cochise County Sheriff's Office before the 42-year-old was elected to the Douglas City Council. He stepped down from that seat this week to seek the GOP nod in the congressional race. Morales grew up in Cochise County and then Massachusetts before serving in the military.

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Marilyn Wiles, 64, worked for several federal agencies around the country before retiring in 2011 to the Northeast Side. She lived in the Tucson area as a girl.

Casey Welch, 41, is a political newcomer and former Peace Corps worker, and a Tucson native.

Brandon Martin is a civilian contractor at Ft. Huachuca. The Army veteran worked in intelligence in Afghanistan, and the 33-year-old has lived in Southern Arizona for 11 years.

Among other mooted candidates is Ally Miller. The Pima County supervisor said last month that she had decided to not enter the primary race.

Marquez Peterson announced in early December — before McSally confirmed that she was walking away from her congressional seat to seek the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Jeff Flake — that she was running if McSally didn't seek re-election.

The former gas station owner has been a close ally of Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and has backing from GOP power players like car dealer Jim Click.

On the Democratic side, a pack of candidates are vying to be the finalist next November. Among them are Ann Kirkpatrick, the former CD 1 congresswoman who lost the U.S. Senate race to John McCain last year; former Assistant Army Secretary Mary Matiella; Matt Heinz, who lost to McSally in November 2016; political newcomers Billy Kovacs and Barbara Sherry; and former state representative Bruce Wheeler.

The Democrats will debate Feb. 25 at the Madera Clubhouse in Quail Creek, in a forum moderated by this reporter.

McSally narrowly won election in 2014, and prevailed again in 2016. She faced the potential of another bruising race in Arizona's CD 2, with a bevy of Democrats vying to challenge her — including Kirkpatrick, the former congresswoman.

McSally's district voted against Donald Trump in 2016, and many Democrats think they can re-take the open seat.

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1 comment on this story

Feb 16, 2018, 8:46 am
-0 +3

>>The Democrats will debate Feb. 25 at the Madera Clubhouse in Quail Creek<<

Dylan, what time is the debate?
Does a person have to register in advance?

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