At a glance
Electoral votes: 10 | Weak McCain
R Kyl R McCain
Arizona State House:
Arizona State Senate:
Presidential election history:
Arizona has only voted for a Democratic presidential candidate once between 1972 and 2004, and it isn’t likely to go for Obama this year unless Libertarian candidate Bob Barr takes a significant number of votes from McCain. As a whole, however, the state has been turning a bluer shade of purple over the past few years, and the Democrats may pick up a seat in the historically Republican 1st U.S. Congressional District.
Rick Renzi, R, decided not to run for re-election for that seat due to a land-swap deal scandal and an FBI raid on his home last year. Vying for his place are Ann Kirkpatrick, D, and Sydney Hay, R. Kirkpatrick is favored in the election, and she has raised about $1.12 million compared to Hay’s $412,000. The incumbent for Arizona’s 5th Congressional District, Harry Mitchell, D, unseated a Republican in the 2006 election. He’ll try to hang on against Republican challenger David Schweikert (former Maricopa County treasurer) in a district that tends to lean Republican. To date, Mitchell has raised about twice as much money as Schweikert, and the race is still considered a toss-up.
Both chambers of the state Legislature are controlled by Republicans, and that’s not likely to change in 2008. But the Democrats gained serious ground in 2006, picking up seven seats in the state House, and that momentum could continue this year.
In the primary election, rancher Bill Jeffers, D, received enough write-in votes to appear on the general election ballot. He’s hoping to unseat incumbent state Sen. Sylvia Allen, R, to represent District 5 in northeastern Arizona. Democrats are also hoping to pick up two seats in the Tucson region (Districts 25 and 30).
Immigration played a major role in the Republican primary for District 18’s state Senate seat. Ultra-conservative former state Rep. Russell Pearce, whose immigration plans were strongly opposed by business leaders, defeated more moderate Kevin Gibbons, likely giving Mesa a “tough on immigration” senator.
With about 26 percent of Arizona’s Republican voters thinking that immigration is the most important issue in the 2008 election, it’s not surprising that immigration politics could play a role in November. The “Arizona Civil Rights Initiative” is a ballot measure that proposes amending the state Constitution to “prohibit preferential treatment” -- meaning affirmative action – “by state government.” While the anti-affirmative action initiative is not overtly an anti-immigration measure, it is, arguably, a reaction to a growing Latino population. A second ballot measure, “Stop Illegal Hiring,” appears to impose stiff penalties for employers who hire undocumented immigrant workers, but several of the state’s most anti-immigration politicians have come out against the measure because it actually weakens a stricter state law. These initiatives may mobilize the Republican voter base. That may not be critical for the presidential race (which will almost definitely go to McCain), but it could affect some of the close local races.