Sep 25, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Red flags for Arizona Republicans

Illustration of a red flag in the shape of Arizona

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Arizona Republicans are spiraling toward a series of major missed opportunities after nominating MAGA-aligned candidates in key races.

Driving the news: A super PAC aligned with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell withdrew over $9 million in ads from the state, leaving Republican Senate nominee Blake Masters at a significant financial disadvantage against Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.).

  • A recent survey of Arizona voters conducted by Trump pollster Tony Fabrizio and Biden pollster John Anzalone for the AARP found Kelly leading Masters 50%-42%. Masters' favorability rating stood at 37% (54% unfavorable), an unusually negative showing for a first-time candidate.

Down the ballot: The Cook Political Report this week moved the ratings of two competitive Arizona House seats in the Democrats' direction.

  • Rep. Tom O'Halleran, one of the most vulnerable Democrats, whose seat was redrawn into a Trump +8 seat, is running more competitively than expected against Republican Eli Crane. The NRCC is spending nearly $1 million in the contest, despite the natural GOP advantage in the district.
  • And GOP Rep. David Schweikert, who was reprimanded by the House Ethics Committee for misusing official funds, is in a race now rated as a "toss-up" against Democrat Jevin Hodge. Schweikert's new district backed Biden by two points.

But, but, but: Republican Kari Lake, despite her amplification of former President Trump's election denial, is in a statistical tie with Democrat Katie Hobbs in the Arizona governor's race, according to the AARP survey.

  • And election-denying GOP Secretary of State nominee Mark Finchem narrowly leads Democrat Adrian Fontes, according to an OH Predictive Insight survey. One in four likely voters is unsure of who they'd vote for.

The bottom line: Arizona will be the biggest test of whether far-right candidates embracing Trump's conspiracy theories can win in a swing state.

Go deeper