Jeff Flake wins GOP Senate nomination in Arizona

August 29, 2012

Rep. Jeff Flake won Arizona’s Republican Senate primary Tuesday, easily defeating self-funded businessman Wil Cardon. He will face former surgeon general Richard Carmona in the general election.


(CHARLIE LEIGHT/THE REPUBLIC)

In other important races held Tuesday, Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.) defeated fellow freshman Republican Rep. Ben Quayle while Republican Rep. Paul Gosar turned back a challenge from Ron Gould, a state legislator backed by the Washington based anti-tax group Club For Growth.

Arizona gained an additional House seat following the decennial redistricting process. The new lines also prompted some reshuffling among the state’s current delegation. Quayle was faced with a choice: run in the swing 9th district or the more Republican 6thdistrict. He chose the latter last winter, setting off a fierce competition with Schweikert.

Flake’s win is a victory for the Republican establishment, which viewed him as the candidate most capable of holding the seat being vacated by retiring Sen. John Kyl (R).

Cardon’s personal money allowed him to run ads that raised his name recognition and made him competitive against the congressman, who has burnished a reputation as a fiscal conservative. But Flake also spent big  – over $4 million, none of which came from his own pockets – and eventually put significant distance between himself and Cardon.

Flake will now face Carmona, who was unopposed in the Democratic primary. Carmona served as surgeon general during the administration of George W. Bush and was recruited by President Obama to join the race. Democrats are hopeful his moderate political profile will help him stay competitive, even in a state that leans Republican.

Elsewhere on Tuesday, in Oklahoma’s 2nd district, where Democratic Rep. Dan Boren is retiring, plumbing company owner Markwayne Mullin won the Republican runoff and will begin the general election as the frontrunner in a district that gave Sen. John McCain two out of every three votes in 2008. Mullin’s Democratic opponent will be Rob Wallace, a prosecutor.

Updated at 1:16 a.m.

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.
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