August 2 primary preview: Arizona
A rundown of the primaries in the Grand Canyon State
We have passed the halfway point in primary season, and August 2 is a busy day on the calendar. We start with the hot primaries in Arizona, where global warming imperils everyone and redistricting has favored Republicans. Democratic hopes increasingly pin on GOP primary voters selecting candidates too extremist and eco-fascist for the general election. Also on the 2nd: Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, and Washington.
AZ-Sen: After winning a special election in 2020, Democratic Senator Mark Kelly is running for a full term. Despite the fact that he is up for re-election in a traditionally Republican state two years before Arizona’s other Democratic senator, Kelly has stood out for supporting popular measures like a minimum wage increase, while Kyrsten Sinema has theatrically blocked them and lost support from the Arizona Democratic Party for posing a grave obstructive threat to democracy. Unfortunately, Kelly joined with Sinema in tanking the nomination of climate hawk Saule Omarova, but generally speaking he has been a much better and less disruptive senator.
The Republican primary to be Kelly’s general election opponent is mainly between three authoritarian right-wingers. Some polls have shown that the frontrunner is “nightmare for democracy” Blake Masters, Trump’s endorsed pick and the Nazi-sympathizing protégé of white supremacist billionaire Peter Thiel. Shortly after Trump’s election in 2016, Thiel and Masters teamed up to pitch Trump on appointing a man who believes the world is suffering from a “carbon dioxide famine” as his top science adviser. Other polls have shown Jim Lamon, a businessman who sold his solar energy company to Koch Industries in order to focus on his Senate campaign, with the lead. Mark Brnovich has governed as a far-right attorney general, including through advancement of the absurd theory that environmentally conscious investing violates antitrust laws. However, Brnovich’s one-time acceptance of Biden’s 2020 victory in Arizona has caused him to sink to third in the polls.
AZ-Gov: Republican governor Doug Ducey termed out after eight years of barely acknowledging climate change as the driver of Arizona’s deadly heat waves, drought, and water crisis, setting the stage for a swing state open seat race that may well have implications for the next presidential election. Arizona’s Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, who has emphasized her role in fending off dangerous attacks and bizarre conspiracy theories about Arizona’s 2020 election, is the frontrunner in the Democratic primary, though she has been plagued by a discrimination lawsuit that has prevented her from running away with the nomination. Former Nogales mayor and border patrol officer Marco Lopez has the support of several labor unions and local elected officials. On the Republican side, Trump has endorsed “journalism is dead” TV anchor Kari Lake, who has said she would not have certified the 2020 election. Ducey, former Vice President Mike Pence, and numerous other high-profile Republicans are are attempting to defeat Lake by backing Arizona University Board of Regents Member Karrin Taylor Robson, whose plans for opposing the “radical Biden-Harris agenda” and resolving Arizona’s water crisis forefront Republicans’ favorite non-solution, energy-intensive desalinization.
AZ-AG: With incumbent Mark Brnovich running for Senate, there is a contested race on the Republican side to determine who will try to carry on Brnovich’s climate change-denying and Exxon-defending record. Right-wing AGs from other states have lined up behind PING golf club manufacturing executive Dawn Grove. Trump is backing intelligence officer Abraham Hamadeh. Former Tucson councilman Rodney Glassman is endorsed by vocal insurrectionist Rep. Paul Gosar. A more establishment-flavored candidate seems to be Andrew Gould, who is endorsed by former governor Jan Brewer and served for five years on the Arizona Supreme Court after it was expanded by Ducey. The Democratic nominee for Attorney General will be former Corporation Commission Chair Kris Mayes, who touts her accomplishments expanding clean energy and litigating against pipeline operators on her website.
AZ-Treasurer: Republican incumbent Kimberly Yee is running for re-election on a right-wing record that includes joining up with the State Financial Officers Foundation (SFOF), a consortium of Republican financial officials that is increasingly mounting attacks against climate financial regulation and Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) investments. Yee is facing two challengers in the Republican primary. Despite Yee’s involvement with SFOF, state representative Jeff Weninger’s main campaign message is that he’ll be a stronger opponent of “woke capitalism,” the right-wing buzz phrase for ESG investments that seek to avoid the financial stability risks and economic damage of climate pollution. Also running is Bob Lettieri, who boasts of his participation in the conspiratorial Maricopa County election audit and warns of a bizarre theory that banks want to create a “Green New Deal” credit card that will limit high-pollution purchases. The Democratic candidate in the general election will be state senator Martín Quezada.
AZ-Secretary of State: Arizona Republicans are so committed to their theory that Biden did not win the state in 2020 that they hired a firm called Cyber Ninjas to audit results in Maricopa County, which ultimately concluded that Biden had won more votes than previously reported. With incumbent Katie Hobbs running for governor, this open race to be Arizona’s chief elections administrator will have important implications for democracy. In the Democratic primary, LCV and many state legislators are supporting State House minority leader Reginald Bolding, while labor unions and progressives such as Congressman Raúl Grijalva are supporting attorney Adrian Fontes. The Republican field features “Stop the Steal” planner Mark Finchem, state representative Shawna Bowlick, state senator Michelle Ugenti-Rita, and businessman Beau Lane.
Note: Following an aggressively pro-GOP redistricting, Arizona’s House district numbers have changed, and most incumbents are running in a district with a different number than the one they currently represent.
AZ-01 (formerly AZ-06): In 2014, Republican Rep. David Schweikert was chosen to lead the House Science Subcommittee on the Environment, despite (or because of) having called climate science an “arrogant” concoction of the “Al Gores of the world.” Schweikert’s Scottsdale-based district was turned from a R+13 to a more competitive R+7. In the Republican primary, Schweikert faces self-funding businessman Elijah Norton, who promises to fight “socialists” in Congress and has accused Schweikert of ethics failings. Speaker Pelosi and Democratic leadership are behind Head Start leader Jevin Hodge, whose website forefronts the “existential threat” of climate change and promises expansion of solar energy. Hodge’s opponent in the Democratic primary is former Phoenix Suns membership director Adam Metzendorf, who has called for the creation of a southwestern water caucus.
AZ-02 (formerly 01): Democratic Blue Dog Rep. Tom O’Halleran’s periodic votes with congressional Republicans (including votes to slash clean energy funding) attracted a primary challenge in 2020 from Flagstaff councilmember Eva Putzova. Now, redistricting has turned O’Halleran’s district from a marginal Biden-carrying district into a R+15, and he has no primary opponent in his tough re-election contest. Although all the candidates in the Republican field are ardent 2020 election deniers, Trump recently faced some pushback when he endorsed former Navy SEAL Eli Crane over businessman Mark DeLuzio and state representative Walt Blackman, who has backing from the NRCC and is a fan of the white supremacist Proud Boys.
AZ-04 (formerly 09): Democratic Rep. Greg Stanton once had looked pretty safe in a district mostly centered in Phoenix (where Stanton was previously mayor), but redistricting turned his district into a D+1. Leading the fundraising on the Republican side is the NRCC’s apparent preference, former Phoenix Suns executive Tanya Wheeless, while the MAGA wing of the party seems to favor Marines veteran Kelly Cooper, who is endorsed by Kari Lake and Trump’s climate change-denying Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.
AZ-06 (formerly 02): With Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick retiring from this Tucson-based district, this open R+7 district will be one of the most competitive congressional races in the state. In the Democratic primary, Grijalva, Sierra Club, and LCV have endorsed former state senator Kirsten Engel, who filed an amicus brief in the landmark 2007 climate Supreme Court case Massachusetts v. EPA. State representative Daniel Hernandez Jr. has support from several Members of Congress, but also from the fossil fuel and Republican billionaire-funded AIPAC and DMFI PAC. Republican House leadership has lined up behind Ducey staffer Juan Ciscomani, while the MAGA wing, including Lake, Zinke, and Gosar, have endorsed businesswoman Kathleen Winn.
AZ-07 (formerly 03): The chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, the famously rumpled Rep. Raúl Grijalva is by far the most aggressive and effective champion of environmental justice in Democratic leadership. Redistricting made his safe Democratic district even more so.
State Senate/State House: Arizona has 30 multi-member legislative districts, with each district electing two state representatives and one state senator. Republicans currently hold very slim majorities in each chamber (16-14 in the Senate, 31-29 in the House), and the independent redistricting commission drew about six highly competitive districts, giving Democrats an opportunity to flip one or both chambers with a net gain of two in these districts. The stakes are about as high as they could be. Although 2022 will surely be a tough environment for Democrats to play offense, Arizona’s swing state status, and the fact that the Arizona Republican Party, led by “Chem Trail Kelli” Ward, appears poised to nominate outright fascists for several statewide offices mean that a few thousand votes spread across a handful of districts might prove the difference between Democrats controlling the trifecta for the first time in state history or the potential demise of democracy.
There are very few meaningful primaries for state legislative seats this year, since the major parties have fielded the minimum number of candidates in most districts. Since there aren’t many contested primaries and the critical general election matchups are already mostly known, we will just list the pivotal districts that will determine control of both chambers: Legislative District 2 (based in the Wild Flower/Deer Valley section of northern Maricopa County), LD4 (centered in the Paradise Valley suburb directly northwest of Scottsdale), and LD 9 (based in Mesa). In LD 4, a slew of Republican state house candidates will attempt to finish in the top two, where Climate Cabinet has endorsed the sole Democratic candidate, Laura Terech.
Corporation Commission: Climate Cabinet is supporting incumbent Commissioner Sandra Kennedy for re-election, and has also endorsed Tempe Councilmember Lauren Kuby. If Kennedy and Kuby both win in November, the Democrats will take the majority on Arizona’s Corporation Commission, which regulates utilities.