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Updated 4:26 AM  |  August 29, 2018

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Ex-House member wins Democratic primary in different Arizona district

A two-term former member of Congress who only recently moved to the 2nd Congressional District has won the Democratic primary, bringing both strengths and weakness into her party’s bid to wrest control of the district from Republicans in November.

Ann Kirkpatrick moved to the Tucson-area district from the 1st Congressional District, where she has won general elections twice since 2009. She would seem to be favored to take the 2nd in November, as the national GOP has lately grown pessimistic about holding the district after Rep. Martha McSally retired to run for Senate.

But Kirkpatrick emerged from a nasty, crowded primary race that could prelude trouble for her this fall.  Matt Heinz, a doctor and former state legislator who lost to McSally in 2016, refused to clear a path for Kirkpatrick, questioned her residency and recently compared her desire to return to Congress to “meth addiction.”

Navy vet Steve Ferrara wins GOP nomination take on former Phoenix mayor in AZ-9

A Navy veteran and doctor has won the Republican nomination to take on former Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton for Arizona’s 9th Congressional District.

The GOP recruited Steve Ferrara into the three-way Republican primary, and he ran a good fundraising game even though the national party did not buy ad time for him and stopped promoting him months ago. That may be because the 9th — which includes the city of Phoenix — voted heavily against Trump in 2016 and is generally considered safe for Democrats in the general election.

Stanton ran unopposed for the seat, which was vacated by Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema so she could run for a Senate seat.

A Republican upset in November, however unlikely, would be a significant blow to Democrats’ hopes of retaking the House.

McSally fends off challenges to win GOP Senate nomination in Arizona

Establishment choice Rep. Martha McSally fended off challenges from two conservative insurgents to become the Republican nominee to fill retiring Sen. Jeff Flake’s Senate seat.

Republicans recruited McSally — a retired U.S. Air Force colonel who is retiring from the state’s 2nd Congressional District — after Flake bowed out of the race, having lost the support of Trump and much of the president’s base. The party had been deeply worried that former state senator Kelli Ward would win the primary, after a bizarre campaign in which she repeatedly disparaged a dying Sen. John McCain and selected a far-right conspiracy theorist as one of her surrogates.

In the end, Ward split the Trumpian vote with former Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio, and McSally sailed to victory with an enormous fundraising advantage.

But Ward’s candidacy forced McSally, once viewed as a relatively centrist candidate, to veer to the right on border security and immigration issues. That could make it harder for her to win in November, when she is expected to face Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema in a blue-wave year.

History is on McSally’s side, as Arizona has not elected a Democratic senator since the late 1980s. But 2018 would be a disastrous year for the GOP to end the streak, with partisan control of the Senate likely to hang in the balance.

In a sign of McSally’s confidence in the primary and possible concern over the general election, she began running ads against Sinema several days before the election.

Professor to challenge Arizona Republican Gov. Ducey in November

Arizona Democrats have chosen a university professor who wants to “replace” Immigration and Customs Enforcement as their nominee to take on Gov. Doug Ducey in November, which may present the party’s best chance in a decade to win back the governorship from Republican control.

David Garcia, who teaches at the University of Arizona and narrowly lost a bid to become the state’s schools chief in 2014, won against state Sen. Steve Farley on Tuesday.

Democrats would have been happy with their Garcia or Farley. The Republican Governor’s Association has already spent millions trying to protect Ducey in November, demonstrating how worried that GOP is about a Democratic wave.

Farley outraised Garcia for most of the race, according to the Arizona Republic, but the professor enjoyed a late surge of money and attention in the final days. He appealed to the Democratic base with talk of universal health care and vast reforms to Trump’s immigration system. As the Republic noted, his education bonafides could also help him against Ducey, who presided over a disastrous five-day teacher strike earlier this year.

The run-up to November will also be complicated the Ducey’s imminent selection of a senator to fill the seat of John McCain, who died Saturday. The governor is likely to face competing calls to appoint a moderate in McCain’s style, or one of the hard-line conservative who have lately dominated the state GOP. Whichever he goes for, he risks splitting his base of support.

Anti-Islam activist to face Wasserman Schultz for third time

Joe Kaufman, a writer and anti-Islam activist, has won the GOP nomination for the district represented by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, whom he has run against twice before.

Kaufman appeared on Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show” and received national attention during the 2012 congressional elections, when he blocked a Muslim man from joining his GOP chapter on the erroneous grounds he was an extremist.

Seven-term congresswoman Wasserman Schultz will be welcoming his victory in Florida’s 23rd district: her worry was a moderate GOP opponent who could have reduced her vote and opened the door to Timothy Canova, a well-funded law professor who won Bernie Sanders’s endorsement in 2016 and is running as an independent this time.

Live primary results: Florida and Arizona, plus Oklahoma runoffs

There are big races today in Arizona and Florida. In both states, voters are picking their candidates for key Senate races, though in Florida the winners have looked clear for months. In Florida, voters in both parties are weighing in on their candidates for governor.

Meanwhile, in Oklahoma, voters are choosing candidates in runoffs, including for the GOP nominee for governor.

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