Arizona House primary results: Ben Quayle booted from Congress
the David Schweikert jumped to an early lead inRepublican House race. | AP Photo
Freshman Rep. Ben Quayle lost Tuesday night to fellow first-term Rep. David Schweikert in a fierce member vs. member GOP primary in Arizona, a stinging defeat after Quayle’s years-long struggle to shed his image as the privileged scion of political royalty.
With four-fifths of precincts reporting, Schweikert was leading Quayle, 53 percent to 47 percent and the Associated Press called the race. Redistricting thrust the two incumbents into battle for a Scottsdale-area seat.
Schweikert attacked Quayle mercilessly throughout the primary, telling voters he owes his position in Congress to his father’s name and connections. And Quayle’s past life gave Schweikert no shortage of other ammunition: Quayle was forced years ago to admit writing under a pseudonym for TheDirty.com, a racy site about Scottsdale nightlife, and had to contend with a picture that emerged of him partying in a cow costume.
A story by POLITICO last week reinforced that image: Quayle was among several lawmakers who went swimming in the holy Sea of Galilee — including one in the buff — after a night of drinking. Though Quayle insisted he had only a glass of wine and joined in for the religious experience, the scandal raised fresh questions about the lawmaker’s maturity.
In another key race, Rep. Jeff Flake dispatched real estate investor Wil Cardon in the state’s Republican Senate primary. A six-term congressman, Flake drew support from establishment and tea party types, leaving little room for Cardon, who poured millions of his personal fortune into his campaign. Flake will face off against Democratic former U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona, in November — a race that’s expected to be competitive but is generally thought to favor Republicans.
Another freshman GOP member of the Arizona House delegation, Rep. Paul Gosar, easily survived a challenge by outspoken state Sen. Ron Gould, who had the backing of the Club for Growth. Gosar outraised Gould by a wide margin, but the Club narrowed that advantage by spending more than $600,000 Gould’s behalf.
And in the race for Flake’s House seat, former Republican Rep. Matt Salmon was leading former Arizona House Speaker Kirk Adams, 54 percent to 46 percent, with four-fifths of precincts reporting. Adams was endorsed by Sarah Palin.
But the must-watch race of the night was Quayle vs. Schweikert. Both men boasted conservative voting records and ideologies, so the contest came down to character.
Quayle argued that the 50-year-old Schweikert would say anything to win. Quayle created a website, DishonestDave.com, in an attempt to catalogue what Quayle called a series of lies and distortions.
In a recent interview, Quayle told POLITICO that he knew his last name “would put a big target on my back” if he ran for office. So when he arrived in Congress in 2011, Quayle took cues from the Hillary Clinton model, taking on weighty committee assignments, boning up on the issues and, for the most part, keeping his head down.
But redistricting threw a huge monkey wrench in that strategy. Pitted against an opponent whose intensity on the campaign trail bordered on obsessive — and who showed no compunction about revisiting the old knocks against Quayle as an undisciplined partier — Quayle found himself on the defensive for much of the race.
Schweikert, for his part, tried to draw a sharp personal contrast with Quayle, emphasizing working-class aspects of his biography such as how he washed dishes to help pay for college. Though Quayle represented about two-thirds of the redrawn district, Schweikert was a well-known figure in his own right, thanks to decades of work in state and local politics.
In other primaries Tuesday, Democratic Rep. Ron Barber, the former aide to Gabrielle Giffords who won a June special election, easily beat back a challenge by state legislator Matt Heinz. Barber faces a competitive November race against Republican Martha McSally, a retired Air Force officer.
In Oklahoma, meanwhile, both parties selected nominees in the race for the seat of retiring Democratic Rep. Dan Boren of Oklahoma. Plumbing company owner Markwayne Mullin defeated George Faught in the Republican runoff. On the Democratic side, former prosecutor Rob Wallace beat seed company owner Wayne Herriman.
Republicans are expected to seize the GOP-leaning seat in November.
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