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Arizona Senate primary run in Trump's shadow

29 August 2018

"It's hard to celebrate anything this week as we mourn the loss of Senator McCain", McSally said at her victory party in Tempe.

McSally handily won Tuesday night's Arizona Senate primary, defeating GOP candidates Kelli Ward and former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was pardoned by the president earlier this year after being found in contempt of court over racially motivated traffic stops.

McSally, an air force fighter pilot, easily defeated Kelli Ward, a hardline former state senator, and Joe Arpaio, the former Maricopa County sheriff whose criminal conviction was pardoned by Donald Trump previous year, when they split the anti-establishment vote. So if DeSantis wins, it'll be another sign of Trump's stamp on the GOP. Trump appears to have tilted the Republican race toward Rep. Ron DeSantis, whom he endorsed late past year. The commercial contrasts imagery of McSally in uniform with footage of Sinema protesting against the Iraq war in a pink tutu.

History is on McSally's side, as Arizona has not elected a Democratic senator since the late 1980s. Will it be south Florida Democrats or panhandle Republicans who turn out in numbers closer to presidential year voting?

Meanwhile, in Florida, the gubernatorial race is one to watch in particular, as there are multiple candidates from both the Republican and the Democratic Parties.

In reliably Republican Oklahoma, two GOP candidates in a runoff race for governor have been battling over who is more supportive of Trump.

Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, who has served three terms and is from Phoenix, also defeated her rival, Deedra Abboud, a progressive activist and attorney from Scottsdale.

McCain's seat will be filled by Republican Gov. Doug Ducey in an appointment made after the senator's funeral; there will then be a special election on the 2020 ballot to fill the remainder of McCain's term. Since the six-day teachers strike this past spring, education has emerged as a key issue in the race. On the Democratic side David Garcia was the projected victor, thrilling liberals who hope he can mobilize the state's Hispanic population in November.

CNN views more than half of Arizona's congressional districts as in play this year, with the 2nd District vacated by McSally as the most likely to flip.

McSally calls suggestions that she's changed on Trump - whom she criticized while running for re-election during 2016 in a district that voted for Hillary Clinton - "a false narrative". The victor will be an immediate target of Republicans looking to keep control of the House. Bill Nelson and Republican Gov. Rick Scott is all but set, and the biggest intrigue tonight is who will face off to succeed the outgoing governor. Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum could surprise Democrats here.

"I do understand how many could have misconstrued my comments as insensitive, and for this I apologize", Ward said. CNN rates the race Lean Democrat.

Arizona is one of three states holding elections Tuesday. CNN ranks eight Florida races as vulnerable in November, only one of which is now held by a Democrat. Democrats describe Edmondson's time in office as 'someone who fights for the little guy.' Former Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett and Tulsa businessman Kevin Stitt will face off in the Republican runoff Tuesday. Stitt's business practices have come under scrutiny, giving Democrats hope should he prevail over the former mayor, they will have a strong chance to win.

Arizona Senate primary run in Trump's shadow