Off to the Races

Written by Craig Outhier Category: Hot Topics Issue: November 2012
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Bone up on the Valley’s hottest political bouts with this handy Election Day handicapper.

Total Arizona Registered Voters: 3,100,575

Republican: 1,113,123 (35.9%)

Democrat: 935,098 (30.16%)

Independent: 1,025,634 (33.08%)

THE FIGHT DOCTOR: Valley political consultant Dr. Michael O’Neil (O’Neil Associates)

Will Sheriff Joe meet his Waterloo? Or will the 80-year-old lawman survive his toughest challenge yet?

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Illustrations by Nicole Roegner

Joe Arpaio
HEIGHT: Five-time elected incumbent; law enforcement superstar
REACH: Get-off-my-lawn types; border enforcement advocates.
GLASS JAW?: Poor sex-crime arrest rate; “birther” hijinks

Paul Penzone
HEIGHT: Former Phoenix PD sergeant; director of Silent Witness protection program
REACH: Voters suffering from Sheriff Joe fatigue.
GLASS JAW?: Has about 1/100th of the name recognition of his opponent.

THE FIGHT  DOCTOR SAYS: Penzone is a credible candidate, but “any Sheriff Joe election is essentially a referendum on Sheriff Joe.”

A seasoned Mormon congressman and ex-Surgeon General vie for John Kyl’s seat.

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Jeff Flake
HEIGHT: Six-term U.S. Congressman; former Goldwater honcho
REACH: Fiscal conservatives; East Valley homers
GLASS JAW?: Perceived “professional politician” stigma.

Richard Carmona
HEIGHT: Former U.S. Surgeon General (2002-2006); Purple Heart honoree
REACH: Hispanics and moderates; Tucson and Southern Arizona voters.
GLASS JAW?: He’s a Democrat. This is Arizona.

THE FIGHT  DOCTOR SAYS: Flake is the favorite, but “he suffered from $7 million of negative campaigning” by primary foe Will Cardon. Upset on the table.

Arizona’s other high-profile sheriff emerges from controversy to run for re-election.

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Paul Babeu
HEIGHT: First Republican sheriff in Pinal County history
REACH: Border-protection minded Pinalians; statewide profile from “build the dang fence” ads.
GLASS JAW?: Scurrilous outing by gay ex-lover and half-naked self-portraits may
conceivably haunt him

Kevin Taylor
HEIGHT: One-time Ohio deputy; owns Mesa-based Taylor Made Security
REACH: May have greater appeal with Independents, the largest voting bloc in Pinal County.
GLASS JAW?: Never elected to office, he’s an unknown commodity... which might be an asset in this race.

THE FIGHT  DOCTOR SAYS: Look out for Independent candidate Ty Morgan, a 30-year PCSD officer.

Will the AZ GOP hold onto its super-majority in the senate and house? Watch this race.

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Jerry Lewis
HEIGHT: Current state senator; defeated Russell Pearce in a much-publicized 2011 recall election
REACH: Willingness to take on fellow Republican  Pearce bodes well in Democrat-majority Tempe.
GLASS JAW?: District 26 lies mostly outside his Mesa Mormon power-base.

Ed Ableser
HEIGHT: Currently serves in Arizona House of Representatives; pursuing Ph.D. in social work
REACH: “Progressive Mormon grad student” brand plays well to campus-area voters.
GLASS JAW?: Took guff for his call to formally apologize for CIA involvement in the 1973 coup in Chile.

THE FIGHT  DOCTOR SAYS: The GOP super-majority in the Senate is “history” if Lewis doesn’t pull an upset.

Two minority candidates duke it out in the Valley’s lone competitive congressional race.

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Vernon Parker
HEIGHT:  Special Assistant to President George H.W. Bush; Paradise Valley councilman
REACH: Well-heeled conservatives; would be first African-American congressman from Arizona.
GLASS JAW?: PV power-base mostly outside Tempe/Mesa/Scottsdale district boundaries.

Kyrsten Sinema
HEIGHT: Elected Arizona state senate (2010); law professor at ASU
REACH: The youth vote; would be first openly bisexual member of Congress.
GLASS JAW?: According to O’Neil, the GOP will “dredge up older [left wing] statements before she got circumspect with her verbage.”

THE FIGHT  DOCTOR SAYS: Dead even. “I get the sense this is a moderate district.”