Primary election will likely decide nearly half of Arizona’s legislative seats

Aug 2, 2022, 1:31 PM | Updated: 2:30 pm
(KTAR News Photos)...
(KTAR News Photos)
(KTAR News Photos)

PHOENIX – Although it’s only the primary, Tuesday’s election is expected to fill nearly half of Arizona’s 90 legislative seats.

That’s because one major party or the other has no candidate, or only write-in candidates, for many state Senate and House races.

Assuming no write-in candidates overcome the hurdles necessary to advance to the general election, 43 spots in the Legislature will essentially be locked up once the primary votes are counted.

That breaks down to half of the 30 Senate seats (eight Republicans and seven Democrats) and 28 of the 60 House seats (16 Democrats and 12 Republicans).

“Everybody shows up in the general election goes, ‘Oh, I’m part of the decision-making process,” Chuck Coughlin, CEO of political consulting firm Arizona HighGround, told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News on Tuesday.

“It’s really critically important that people go vote today because so many of these races get decided in the primary.”

While Democrats have four-seat edge in unchallenged House races, they only have a single candidate in nine districts, meaning Republicans are guaranteed at least one seat in those contests. The situation is the same but with the parties reversed in two districts, therefore Republicans already have 21 House seats clinched to 18 for Democrats.

In fact, 15 candidates (eight Democrats, seven Republicans) can make plans to be at January’s inauguration before a single primary vote is counted.

In the Senate primary, Democrats Theresa Hatathlie, Sally Ann Gonzales, Rosanna Gabaldon and Raquel Teran and Republicans Warren Petersen, Jake Hoffman, David Gowan, Sine Kerr and Sonny Borrelli are all unopposed in districts where there are no candidates in the opposing party.

There are three House districts with exactly two candidates on the primary ballot from one party and none in the other, meaning the races were effectively over when the nominating petitions were accepted.

That’s the situation for Republicans Neal Carter, Jacqueline Parker in District 15, Democrats Andres Cano and Alma Hernandez in District 20, and Democrats Jesus Lugo Jr. and Mariana Sandoval in District 23.

Why is it so easy to write off the possibility that a write-in primary candidate will get onto the general election ballot?

First, Arizona law allows write-in votes to count only for candidates who submitted nominating paperwork at least 40 days before the election (so that write-in for your spouse or Votey McVoteface is the same as a blank vote).

Second, they have to win their primary with a vote total that exceeds the required number of nominating signatures needed to get their names printed on the ballot as an official candidate. That threshold varies by district and party.

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Primary election will likely decide nearly half of Arizona’s legislative seats