May 13, 2024 - News

Democrats sidestep write-in campaign by nominating state Senate candidate

A woman smiles at the camera.

Democrats voted to put Lauren Kuby on the ballot for Legislative District 8. Photo: Courtesy of Lauren Kuby

Arizona Democrats voted to nominate former Tempe City Councilmember Lauren Kuby as their state Senate candidate in Legislative District 8, sidestepping a potentially risky write-in campaign.

Why it matters: Democrats believe they have a chance of winning control of the Senate for the first time in more than 30 years. Relying on a write-in campaign in the deep blue Tempe-based district would've risked ceding a safe seat to the Republicans.

Catch up quick: State Rep. Melody Hernandez withdrew as the only Democrat running for the open Senate seat due to a Republican legal challenge alleging she didn't have enough valid signatures and wasn't eligible because she owed too much in unpaid fines from late campaign finance reports.

  • That left Republican Roxana Holzapfel as the only candidate on the ballot.
  • Kuby and Democrat Ivan Pemberton quickly filed as write-in candidates for the seat.

Context: To qualify for the general election ballot, a write-in candidate in the primary must get a number of votes at least equal to the number of signatures needed to get on the primary ballot.

  • Republicans hold a 16-14 advantage in the Senate, and control of the chamber could come down to any one race.

Driving the news: Democratic precinct committee members voted on Saturday to name Kuby outright as their candidate.

Zoom in: LD8 Democrats used a little-known statutory provision to appoint a replacement for Hernandez rather than rely on the write-in campaigns.

  • State law permits political parties to select someone new if their only candidate for an office withdraws in either the primary or general.
  • The process is sometimes used to replace candidates for the general election, but it's unclear whether it's ever been used for a primary.

The intrigue: Republicans in West Valley-based Legislative District 29 are relying on write-in campaigns to nominate a candidate for the second of the district's two House seats after Rep. Austin Smith withdrew due to a legal challenge alleging forged signatures.

  • James Taylor and Amy Heusted are running as write-ins, and if both get the minimum number of votes in the primary, the candidate with more votes will get their name on the general election ballot.
  • Democrats have candidates for both House seats in the district.

Between the lines: The deadline to make changes to the ballot is Monday, according to the county and the secretary of state's office.

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