Arizona State Senate Candidate Filing Rundown
LD-2: Representative Steve Kaiser is running uncontested in the Republican primary. On the Democratic side, 2020 Maricopa County School Superintendent nominee Jeanne Casteen and Air Force veteran Victoria Thompson are running in this Trump+2 seat. Likely Republican.
LD-4: The only incumbent vs incumbent general election matchup is in the 4th, where both Christine Marsh (D) and Nancy Barto (R) are running uncontested in their respective primaries. We see Barto as favored in this Biden+0.8 seat due to the national environment. Leans Republican.
LD-7: The highly-watched Republican primary between far-right Republicans Wendy Rogers and Kelly Townsend is proceeding as expected in this Trump+25 seat. There are no other Republicans in the race, which may help Townsend consolidate the anti-Rogers vote, but Rogers is still favored due to her massive fundraising advantage and a helpful Trump endorsement. Safe Republican.
LD-9: Republican State Senator Tyler Pace is running for reelection in this new Biden-won 9th district. He has a primary opponent in 2018 Mesa City Council candidate Robert Scantlebury, but Pace starts off favored in the primary. The winner of the GOP primary will face Democratic nurse Eva Burch in the general election. Assuming no primary upset, Arizona Republicans are favored to hold the seat. Leans Republican.
LD-12: Democratic State Representative Denise Epstein is running uncontested in the Democratic primary. On the Republican side, entrepreneur David Richardson and 2020 nominee Suzanne Sharer are running for this seat. Sharer is quite far to the right, and we don’t think a Republican upset is possible in this Biden+18.6 district if she’s the nominee for a second time. However, until the primary is settled, we’re playing it safe and calling the race Likely Democratic.
LD-16: State Senator T. J. Shope is running for reelection in this district. 2020 Congressional candidate Daniel Wood is challenging him from the right in the Republican primary, while Taylor Kerby, a teacher from Casa Grande, is challenging him on the Democratic ticket. The district is Trump+4, so Republicans begin with a significant advantage in the general election. Likely Republican.
LD-17: Similar to the 16th, we have a Trump+4 district up for grabs and a Republican incumbent facing a primary challenge. In this case, Senator Vince Leach (R) faces two primary opponents: 2020 State Senate candidate Justine Wadsack and another little-known candidate named Robert Barr. The winner of the primary will face Democrat Mike Nickerson in the general election. Likely Republican.
LD-23: Democratic State Representative Brian Fernandez is running as expected, and he faces Republican Gary Garcia Snyder at the ballot box. Hispanic turnout will be key in this seat, but a Biden+14 topline seems tough for any Republican to overcome. Likely Democratic.
LD-27: Apparently it wasn’t even worth the effort. Democrats have left this Trump+7.7 seat uncontested, resulting in the Republican primary becoming the real contest in this district. Former State Representative Anthony Kern seems like the favorite over first-time candidate Jamie Kelly. Safe Republican.
Arizona’s State House now Safe Republican after Democratic recruiting failures
If you thought not being able to recruit a candidate in a Trump+8 seat was bad, you haven’t seen anything yet. It seems as if Arizona Democrats have failed to recruit enough candidates in the competitive State House races to have a viable path to the 30 seats needed to tie the chamber.
To understand this, one must understand how elections to the Arizona State House work. The State House uses the same 30 districts as the State Senate, and each district elects two representatives. Each party may nominate up to two candidates in the general election, while each voter may select up to two candidates. The top two vote-getters in each district win the seats.
Given the environment, only Biden-won districts and perhaps a narrow Trump district like LD-2 can be considered in-play for this election. Democrats could rely on 12 districts on the new map, all of which are Biden +14 or greater, landing them 24 seats in the House. However, in the other three Biden districts and LD-2, Democrats were only able to recruit a total of five candidates to run. Therefore, even if they sweep all possible seats, a formidable task to begin with, they’ll only be left with 29 seats, which is 1 short of tying the chamber.
This is exactly the reason why the State House is now Safe Republican. How could you win without enough candidates? Democrats may argue they could win in districts 16 or 17, but those are extreme longshots in this type of environment. It really is a story of incompetency of a party that should, in theory, be competitive at the state legislative level.