Feb 20, 2024 - News

Arizona independents have struggled to win elections

Illustration of a "no" symbol being made in a ballot.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

As far as Axios Phoenix has been able to determine, no independent candidate has ever won a state-level or federal office in Arizona.

State of play: A review of public records, news reports and the Arizona Capitol Times' Political Almanac has not identified any independents ever elected to the Legislature, statewide offices or Congress from Arizona since statehood.

Of note: This did not include county-level offices or formerly elected statewide offices such as tax commissioner.

  • At least one independent has been elected to county-level office. Former Coconino County Supervisor Art Babbott was elected as a Democrat in 2012 and re-elected as an independent in 2016.

Zoom in: At least two state lawmakers switched to independent after winning their seats as Democrats, and an independent was appointed to replace one who resigned, but none was ever elected as an independent.

But, but, but: Coles Bashford, a former Republican governor of Wisconsin, was elected as an independent to be a non-voting U.S. House delegate from the Arizona Territory in 1866.

Between the lines: Former Republican state Rep. Tom O'Halleran came close to becoming the first independent elected to the Legislature in 2014, the Arizona Capitol Times reported.

  • He ran as an independent in a two-way state Senate race against Republican Sylvia Allen in northern Arizona but narrowly lost.
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