Representatives Ben Quayle and David Schweikert have a good reason why they’re not at the Republican National Convention in Tampa this week: they’re opponents in a primary election today more than 2,000 miles away in Arizona.
Quayle and Schweikert, both freshmen, are running against one another as a result of redistricting. It’s the last of eight matchups between incumbents of the same party that will be decided before the Nov. 6 general election.
It may also be the most unpleasant of the eight. The two candidates have lodged negative attacks, as have super-political action committees allied with them. Quayle’s campaign refers to Schweikert as “Dishonest Dave,” while a Schweikert campaign ad says Quayle “has embarrassed us too many times.”
National Horizon, a super-PAC, aired an ad calling Quayle a “lightweight”, spelling the word as Q-U-A-Y-L before adding an E on the end for effect. It’s a reference to Quayle’s father, former Vice President Dan Quayle, once misspelling the word potato as “potatoe.”
Friends of the Majority, a super-PAC funded partly by Quayle’s sister and former Treasury Secretary John W. Snow, has aired an ad superimposing an image of Schweikert on a “Wanted” poster, while calling him a “career politician” who will “say and do anything” and who “stands for nothing.”
The biggest difference between the candidates on policy relates to an extension of the payroll tax cut. Schweikert, the only Republican in Arizona’s House delegation who voted for the extension in February, said in a candidate debate last month that he would “always vote for taxpayers to keep their money,” according to the Arizona Republic. Quayle says the bill was a Washington-style gimmick that didn’t address an overhaul of the tax code.
Quayle represents about two-thirds of the reconfigured district and has the backing of Arizona Republican Senators John McCain and Jon Kyl. Schweikert is the more seasoned politician.
Schweikert gave his campaign $130,000 on Aug. 22, his campaign said in a filing to the Federal Election Commission. Quayle’s campaign says this isn’t an action of a campaign claiming a big lead in surveys. Quayle outspent Schweikert, $1.54 million to $1.29 million, as of Aug. 8 and also led in available cash-on-hand, $512,000 to $304,000.
In other races, freshman Representative Paul Gosar is seeking renomination in a district that is about 65 percent new to him.
Three Democrats and seven Republicans are seeking a newly drawn district in and around Phoenix and Tempe. In the Democratic primary, a super-PAC funded by a Delaware-based limited liability company is attacking former Clinton White House official Andrei Cherny, while a Tennessee-based super-PAC has paid for mail and phone calls attacking former state senator Kyrsten Sinema and state Senate Minority Leader David Schapira.
Representative Jeff Flake probably will win the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat that Kyl is leaving open to retire. Former Representative Matt Salmon, who served in the House from 1995 to 2001, and former House Speaker Kirk Adams are the Republicans contending for Flake’s district.
Democratic Representative Ron Barber, elected in June to replace Democrat Gabrielle Giffords, probably will secure renomination in a reconfigured Tucson-area district that is somewhat more Democratic-leaning than the one he presently represents.