Primary Election Returns

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Hear up-to-the-minute election returns, commentary, and analysis from pollster Mike O’Neil and political consultant Kurt Davis

Ted Simons: Good evening, and welcome to this special "Vote 2012" edition of "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. The polls are closed, the votes are in and many of your ballots have been tabulated. In the next half hour we will take a look at the results of some select races of interest on this primary election night. Here to help us sort through the winners, the losers, and the races too close to call are pollster Mike O'Neil, founder and president of O'Neil Associates, a Tempe-based public opinion research firm; and political consultant Kurt Davis, a founding partner of "First Strategic," a communications and public affairs firm in Phoenix. Good to have you both here, thanks for joining us.

Mike O'Neil: Good evening.

Ted Simons: Let's get started here. Most things pretty well decided. Any shockers or surprises?

Mike O'Neil: No shocker, the closest thing to a surprise might be Congressional District 9, both sides.

Mike O'Neil: Kyrsten Sinema on the Democratic side of that, and Vernon Parker on the Republican side surprised me a little bit, as well.

Ted Simons: Sinema has been double digits from the get-go.

Kurt Davis: I don't want to pat myself on the back but on another news discussion we had Friday, we talked about this and I picked Sinema first and Schapira second. Not being a Democrat, I did pretty good on that.

Ted Simons: Anything else out there stand out to you?

Kurt Davis: I think Paul Gosar pummeled Senator Ron Gould in that race and they invested over half a million trying to defeat him, and they got their lunch handed to them.

Ted Simons: Let's take a look at some of the races. We just saw that one in C.D.-9. Let's start with the Cardon, Flake matchup. The debate got a little lively, a little testy at times. The advertising was provocative, the race was a blowout.

Mike O'Neil: Now we know why Will Cardon refused to spend that money, it was purely not a good investment.

Ted Simons: 49 points, does that surprise you at all?

Kurt Davis: It does in one way, it's a massive margin. On the other side, Flake is kind of a tortoise and hare race. Flake was methodical and stayed with the game plan, and Cardon kind of came on and flamed out.

Ted Simons: Was it wise to do that to Flake?

Mike O'Neil: It was probably clear that Cardon was pulling out and that might have added 10 points to the margin.

Ted Simons: Do we see a Will Cardon in the future?

Mike O'Neil: His choice. He's got the checkbook, but he will have to take a major step down in terms of what type of office. If he's willing to do that, he's got opportunities.

Ted Simons: He will be around for a while?

Kurt Davis: He'll have to do some repair work in the party structure, but he's a nice earnest guy who has the funding to run. He could use the residual name I.D. to his advantage.

Ted Simons: How negative could the Jeff Flake ads be going on from here?

Kurt Davis: The good news for Flake -- and I actually believe as primaries -- actually for Flake the primary was good thing for two reasons. One is, he's never run statewide before, so he had to learn how to run statewide. Second, if some of the attacks that Cardon used would have been used by the Democratic candidate Mr. Carmona, it takes the air out of them, they are old and stale by the time they are used.

Mike O'Neil: That'll be a real race, it's not going to be a cakewalk.

Ted Simons: We have a real race on the Republican side, looks like Jonathan Paton is your winner there. On the Democratic side, looks like Ann Kirkpatrick is your winner there. Obviously not a surprise on either side. Paton with 51% and Kirkpatrick with 60-some percent. You were surprised Kirkpatrick didn't win by more?

Kurt Davis: I did. She was a C.D.-1 member of Congress, very bright, and a ferocious fund-raiser. I think she underperformed tonight.

Ted Simons: You think so?

Mike O'Neil: I think Wendy Baldenegro was a serious candidate, so you know, for her to take a third of the vote didn't really astound me.

Ted Simons: What did you think about the general?

Mike O'Neil: Tossup. Absolutely going to be, which means I think both parties will pour a pile of money into it.

Mike O'Neil: I think we've got three toss-up races in this state.

Kurt Davis: As we're speaking there are black helicopters from both the national parties flying in.

Ted Simons: They see an opportunity, don't they?

Ted Simons: Piles of money.

Ted Simons: Let's go to Congressional District 2, this could be a race, as well. Starting with the Republican side. Martha McSally we've heard is a rising star on the Republican side, seems to be fulfilling the promise.

Kurt Davis: I think absolutely this is a race that the incumbent is a steady guy, not that exciting. Mr. Barber, you know, he knows the job, the office. She is the opposite of that, she's the antibody. She's exciting, new, very articulate and aggressive. I think that's going to be a knock-down, drag-out.

Ted Simons: Margin results, 82-17. What happened to Matt Heinz here?

Mike O'Neil: I think the Democratic party coalesced. They decided several months ago to pick their candidate and that was it. The question really was why did Matt Heinz stay in the race.

Ted Simons: Yeah. Club for Growth helping Gould, I guess, I don't know how much it helped because this wasn't even close.

Kurt Davis: Club for Growth clearly in this campaign showed, demonstrated that they have no understanding of how rural Arizona voters think and act. And they wasted an enormous amount of money. Paul Gosar just clearly cleared that field in that race. It's a massive defeat for Club for Growth.

Ted Simons: Was that a surprise to you at all, that Gould wasn't any closer?

Mike O'Neil: The margin, probably, but there's some advantage to being a sitting Congressman when you're not being challenged.

Kurt Davis: Most of that district did not represent --

Mike O'Neil: He was still an incumbent, maybe not their incumbent.

Ted Simons: Maybe it was wise to go ahead and switch districts. But could he have performed this strong in C.D.-1?

Kurt Davis: Yes, he's a workhorse Congressman. Rural Arizonans appreciate that. They know their Congressman quite frankly better than the urban areas do. There's a lot more interaction. He fits that district pretty well.

Mike O'Neil: In CD1 he'd have to have a real fight every two years. I think he just cleared the way for a long-term run in Congress.

Ted Simons: I think that's the game plan for a couple other folks as they get close.

Ted Simons: The big CD-5, lots of endorsements, lots of attention. Adams hit the ground running. What happened to his campaign?

Kurt Davis: Again, an experienced candidate in Matt Salmon. He's been down this track and understands how you win. He did it successfully three times. He honored his term limit pledge first time, that matters to voters. Kirk Adams is very bright and articulate. But a lot of "People Versus the State of Illusion" tell state legislators they are more well-known than they really are.

Kurt Davis: He started with really very little name I.D. and Matt Salmon had a lot. He understood the waters he had to traverse to win.

Ted Simmons: 33 independents, just 21 Democrats, we now know who will represent that particular district, and he can represent that district probably for quite a while, don't you think?

Kurt Davis: There's no term limits as of this time.

Ted Simons: Let's get over to Congressional District 6 and this is another one that got testy and nasty. And that was when times were good, Quayle and Schweikert.

Mike O'Neil: Personally, not so much politically, in that the likely voting patterns of either of these candidates would be virtually identical. The seat was about a safe seat for the next tens years for the winner. David Schweikert walked away with that.

Ted Simmons: Same thing we were talking about with David Gosar in CD-4. Jeff, whoever wins this can be there a long time, provided they didn't make too many enemies along the way. Did Schweikert make enough enemies to be concerned?

Kurt Davis: I think the last few weeks, the last three to four weeks of the campaign, I would argue he probably -- the campaign went over the top. There was damage done and there's going to be some really harsh feelings coming out of this campaign. It's going to hurt the Republican Party in that district for a while. It's going to take a while to mend those wounds.

Ted Simons: Do you agree with something like that?

Mike O'Neil: They are going to want him on the team, so I think that will constrain how big a deal can be made of it over the long haul.

Ted Simons: And Matt, wasn't he a Republican for a while?

Kurt Davis: He was the secret weapon.

Mike O'Neil: I predict in November he will be a secret.

Ted Simons: We'll find out.

Kurt Davis: I totally agree.

Ted Simons: We'll see how the wolves handle that. Let's get to CD-9. We'll start with the Republican side because everyone and his brother was in this particular race, and sister, too. It looks like Vernon Parker will win?

Mike O'Neil: Yeah, it looks that way. I think it was a pretty invisible race. Other than a few signs, you didn't see a whole lot going on. A little more name recognition, but I was even -- I was a little surprised by this one given that -- I mean, Paradise Valley is sort of on the outer periphery of the district. That district is so fragmented, in terms of, it's hard to say where the center is. The center is probably somewhere in Tempe.

Ted Simons: According to that map, it's a doughnut in the center field this district.

Ted Simons: Martin Sepulveda, seemed like he had a strong image, strong story, seemed like he did well enough in the debates. It's a close race still. He didn't do too badly.

Kurt Davis: Wendy Rogers' base was in Tempe, March in this Sepulveda's base was in Chandler. I think you're seeing some geographic bases in a large primary with a number of candidates. Vernon having some residual name I.D. from the last congressional race.

Ted Simons: As far as the Democrats are concerned, this again is another one of those very contentious headlines and advertising, nasty words back and forth. Again, I'm a little surprised here at the margin of victory for Kyrsten Sinema.

Mike O'Neil: The other thing about this race, they Department of have much benches the race in terms of the next generation of candidates. One of the interesting questions is what'll be the future for the two losers.

Ted Simons: What do you think about Andrei Cherny?

Mike O'Neil: Where does he go? He didn't succeed the statewide ride.

Kurt Davis: Try again in California.

Ted Simons: You think there's a possibility?

Kurt Davis: I think Sinema had a very good closing TV ad. I think it made a difference. It was well done, it appealed to women. Two men and in that race. The ad definitely shot right between the eyes. My own daughter and wife really liked that ad.

Mike O'Neil: She was toiled in the Phoenix media market.

Kurt Davis: Stylistically you could see her face, where you couldn't necessarily see the faces of the other two candidates.

Ted Simons: If you now have Parker versus Sinema, what have you got?

Kurt Davis: And the national partyers coming in, doing things that at times the candidate don't control. It's going to be a blood bath.

Mike O'Neil: Both sides know this is a winnable race. To have three legitimately contested races out of nine at the congressional level is pretty exciting.

Kurt Davis: If Vernon holds on, in my opinion he's best suited to run in this district with the makeup of the district.

Kurt Davis: He's the best positioned Republican going in and gives the best chance for victory.

Mike O'Neil: Could be, could be.

Ted Simons: So CD2 and CD9 mean lots of big money from around the country heading to Arizona.

Ted Simons: And CD1, as well.

Ted Simons: Legislative races, we'll start with District 1. The Speaker of the House for some reason found himself in a race. You don't see them fighting this hard, but votes are in, what happened to Lori Klein.

Kurt Davis: Happened, it's inexplicable. She picked the run Penning to run against.

Kurt Davis: That should have been the target, not the speaker. I'm baffled by whoever made that decision.

Ted Simons: Was she hurt by having Anwar al-Sadat them address in this particular district?

Kurt Davis: Yes, two early and one an them. And some of these outage yes, sir statements, and again, targeting the wrong candidate. I don't mean week in a bad sense, this was a freshman she could have challenged, instead of the Speaker of the House.

Kurt Davis: It's baffling to me somebody would come to that decision.

Mike O'Neil: And one of Lori Roberts' top 10 cooks in the legislature bites the death.

Ted Simons: We'll find out more about that for sure.

Ted Simons: This is the Rich Crandall to avoid Russell Pearce. He winds up taking on his light and this was no easy walk in the park here. Not a victim for the more rot underwrites in the quotations of these candidates.

Kurt Davis: I see it more as a victory for President Steve Pierce. Fillmore will not be a supporter of Pierce, and Crandall will be. There was outside money, there were outside interests. And in this case there was an important race. If you wanted to see stability in the state Senate leadership.

Ted Simons: Fillmore was a Tea Party candidate here, will we see more name recognition now? Will we see more of him?

Kurt Davis: Sure, a lot of these candidates will come back the second time. There will be a lot of candidates lose, they lose by a a larger margin the second time.

Ted Simons: That's interesting. Do you see that, as well?

Mike O'Neil: I think we'll see that when we talk about Russell Pearce.

Ted Simons: When we talk about Russell Pearce and John Fillmore, what's going on out there in Mesa and the Valley?

Kurt Davis: Fatigue.

Ted Simons: You think so?

Kurt Davis: And especially in the East Valley and sections of Maricopa County, heavy Republican areas. They are okay with how the legislature and the district took to the shrubs.

Ted Simmons: John Kavanagh was kind of leading in that particular way. Jennifer Pierce considered somewhat of a moderate in that race.

Mike O'Neil: In that particular district with those candidates. She didn't have an easy sort of target to pick on.

Kurt Davis: And what was the case? What was the case to make the change? In that district I don't think that was articulated very well.

Ted Simons: All right. Let's get back downtown here, state Senate district 24; this is Ken Chevron against Katie Hobbs. This is for the Senate. And in district 24 for the house, yet another shall have Ron at this time, Campbell. You need a scorecard to figure this out.

Mike O'Neil: Neither mother nor son.

Ted Simons: Is that a surprise to you at all?

Mike O'Neil: I couldn't have called that one way or the other. I think that was one of those races where there wasn't any big ideological difference. It was strictly personalities in the campaign, no real difference in policy one way or the other.

Ted Simons: Chevron has a name, a restaurant, and a history at the legislature. Also a bit of a history of not getting along with other Democrats as well as perhaps he would like.

Ted Simons: Are you surprised by 20-some-odd points?

Kurt Davis: In some ways no. I'm a rare bird in that district as a Republican. But Campbell has been an effective leader for the Democrats. He's an articulate guy. You're having to make a case on why you're going to make it basically a change. Hobbs is very outgoing, very active, articulate. So I think you're questioning, why are we making big changes here. You have people running against leadership.

Kurt Davis: And Chad Campbell is leadership.

Ted Simons: Is Campbell one of these guys perhaps on the bench now that could?

Mike O'Neil: I would think so. You're talking about a legislative leader and party that doesn't have a lot of next-generation kind of bench.

Kurt Davis: And a U. grad which automatically propels him to the top of the list.

Ted Simons: I'm going right by that one. Tomorrow night's the game, by the way.

Ted Simons: We should mention he is leading that particular race but that's obviously something where that second is just as well. Let's get to the big race as far as the legislature is concerned, the one everyone was interested in and talking about, the Senate race, Russell Pearce, Bob Worsley, not all that close.

Mike O'Neil: I think it was a big mistake for Russell Pearce to seek elected office again. He could have said there were Democrats and Independents voting. He lost amongst Republicans. You couldn't prove that. But a two-time loss and losing in a Republican primary, it's hard for me to see where he goes in terms of electoral politics. I was surprised after the recall he didn't take the presidency of some national funded anti-immigration organization. Almost even have a larger platform.

Ted Simons: What kind of future does Russell Pearce have in Arizona politics?

Kurt Davis: Russell has obviously some iconic -- there are people that absolutely support him. I think in this case, though, the money avalanched against him was massive.

Mike O'Neil: And his ability to raise money diminished massively, also.

Kurt Davis: And then again, I think people saw there was a lot more calmness in the last couple years than in that last year of the legislature, than during the beginning of his tenure as president. I think there's a certain amount of fatigue who then comes to the battle of politics.

Ted Simons: With that in mind and Russell Pearce can't get out of his own way in that particular part of the world, does he run for something in a wider area? Does he run for statewide office? Could he do better in something like that?

Kurt Davis: I agree with Mr. O'Neil. If I were him, I would have run statewide after the recall because he had a fund-raising network. Now, the Aurora, Colorado, comments, that probably did the most damage to him. I think if you ask people on exit polls why, that would pop up high on the list. They heard bit and it offended a lot of people, even people who may have been somewhat supportive of Russell.

Mike O'Neil: Wait to be eaten, it's usually fatal.

Ted Simons: The idea of the fatigue, people felt the fatigue after those particular comments.

Kurt Davis: Are we going to be dealing with this week in and week out, I don't want to read bit, I don't want to hear about it.

Ted Simons: A couple minutes left here. As far as endorsements and where we go, just a general overview of what you saw tonight.

Ted Simons: Everyone from Sarah Palin to her man Cain.

Mike O'Neil: I'd have to set up a matrix and do a scorecard.

Ted Simons: Do they matter?

Mike O'Neil: In some of these races, I wrote down Salmon-Adams, and who they were endorsed by. I mean, when you got that kind of -- okay, they both got a lot of endorsements, move on.

Kurt Davis: Palin made a difference in the Adams-salmon race. She helped to propel Adams back in the race. She had a positive impact but it was way too late. If you're going to endorse people, early is what matters. It helps them raise money. Late in the game people are just picking winning and losing horses.

Mike O'Neil: It was astounding to see her in Arizona the night before the Republican national convention.

Ted Simons: What message should we take from the evening?

Mike O'Neil: As you had pointed out. Steve Pearce a little less of an extreme edge on the legislature, maybe.

Kurt Davis: Agree with that. I think we need to be ready for a very robust Senate and three congressional races. We do have a couple of state legislative races that are going to be very competitive.

Ted Simons: Very good, gentlemen, thanks for joining us. Good stuff.

Mike O'Neil:Pollster; Kurt Davis:Political Consultant;

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