As Republicans gathered in Tampa to demonstrate unity behind the Romney-Ryan ticket, Repubicans in Arizona put the finishing touches on some of the hardest-fought and mean-spirited nomination races anywhere this year.
Rep. Jeff Flake (lifetime American Conservative Union rating: 96.73) cruised in the primary to succeed retiring GOP Sen. Jon Kyl. Flake defeated wealthy businessman Wil Cardon, who had the backing of several legislators and of Rick Santorum, with 70 percent of the vote.
Flake now goes into the fall a strong favorite over former George W. Bush administration Surgeon General Richard Carmona, who switched from independent to Democrat to make the race.
In the House, Rep. David Schweikert (lifetime ACU rating: 96 percent) defeated fellow freshman Rep. Ben Quayle in the redistricted 6th District. Quayle moved to run in the district, which includes more than 60 percent of his former district. He had a major financial advantage as well as high-powered endorsements, including those of Sens. Kyl and John McCain (which, local sources note, was primarily based on friendship with the congressmanâ??s father, former Vice President Dan Quayle).
But the same sources said Schweikert ran a better campaign among grass roots conservatives, and the outcome seemed to support this.
Another incumbent who moved after redistricting and survived in new turf was freshman Rep. Paul Gosar, who left his former district to run in the new (and safely Republican) 4th District. A 2010 favorite of the tea partiers, Gosar upset many of them when he voted to extend the debt ceiling last year. But Gosar defeated State Sen. Ron Gould of Mojave County, a favorite of the Club for Growth, with more than 55 percent of the vote.
In leaving his former 3rd District, which is much the same way demographically as when he won two years ago, Gosar was criticized by Republicans. The seat is likely to be won by the liberal Democrat Gosar unseated in 2010, former Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick.
In the race for nomination to succeed Flake, the congressmanâ??s predecessor and close friend, former Rep. (1994-2002) and State Party Chairman Matt Salmon, was the winner. Salmon, who lost a bid for governor in â??02, rolled up more than 55 percent of the vote over state House Speaker Kirk Adams. In the closing weeks of the campaign, Adams had hit hard at the better-known Salmon for working for a lobbying firm that tried to secure passage of Obamacare.