ELECTION: It's Gosar: 2 Flagstaff residents will face off in CD1
Two Flagstaff residents will be facing off in the 1st Congressional District during the general election.
Republican Paul Gosar had a solid lead from the gate in a crowded field of eight Republican primary candidates Tuesday.
Gosar will face Democratic freshman incumbent Ann Kirkpatrick, a Flagstaff attorney, in the Nov. 2 general election.
As of about 11 p.m. Tuesday, Gosar had 31 percent of the vote compared to 23 percent for Sydney Hay, 16 percent for Bradley Beauchamp and 14 percent for Rusty Bowers.
CD1 voters in Yavapai, Coconino, Gila and Pinal counties were supporting Gosar in the preliminary results, while Hay was winning in Graham and Greenlee and Bowers was taking Navajo and Apache. Hay lobbies for the mining industry, and Graham and Greenlee are home to several large copper mines. Bowers is a Mormon, and Navajo and Apache counties have high Mormon populations.
Prescott-area support is critical to Republican 1st Congressional District candidates, since it is the heart of the Republican base for the huge rural district. Forty percent of the district's Republicans live in Yavapai County, and the Prescott area is its population center.
Yavapai County also traditionally has one of the best voter turnouts of any Arizona county, and that was true again Tuesday.
Recognizing its importance, Gosar spent most of election night at his Prescott office.
"Prescott and Yavapai County have been so good to us, and they are a stronghold for Republicans," Gosar said.
At his side was long-time Prescott Republican Party supporter Mal Barrett, Jr.
"As Yavapai County goes, so goes the race," Barrett said. "I think he's the real deal. He relates to the common man, and he's rational and conservative."
Gosar said the timing of his radio ads and mailings also helped.
"It was such a toss-up, but money must have made the difference," added Karen Fann, a Legislative District One House candidate from Prescott.
Fann watched poll results come in at the Palace Restaurant and Saloon on Prescott's Whiskey Row with Beauchamp and Rep. Andy Tobin of Paulden, along with a crowd of supporters. Both Fann and Tobin supported Beauchamp.
Tobin said Beauchamp had amassed more volunteers than Tobin had ever seen in a CD1 race.
"Up here, I'd rather have an army than money," Tobin said.
Gosar raised the most money of any candidate at $414,486, mostly from dentists across the country. He said dentists know him through his work in Washington and Arizona as the vice chair of the Arizona Dental Association's Council on Governmental Affairs.
Hay's campaign coffers were only slightly behind Gosar with $398,844, aided by $200,000 of her own money.
She said Gosar's negative campaign attacks hurt her, including push polls and a mailer that showed her second home in Scottsdale and accused her of not living in the 1st District.
She said one of those mailers arrived on Election Day in her mailbox at her Munds Park home.
"That was too ironic," she said.
When she won the Republican primary two years ago, Hay said she and Kirkpatrick met in Prescott to discuss ground rules and agreed they wouldn't attack each other for having second homes in the Phoenix metro area.
"I just feel like people should run on their record," Hay said.
Of the district's nearly 400,000 voters, 38 percent are Democrats, 33 percent are Republicans and 28 percent are Independents.
But the Democrats can be conservative, and Republican Rick Renzi held the CD1 seat for three terms until he was indicted on felony charges.
Renzi had three times more campaign money than his Democratic rival when he first ran in 2002, including $764,000 of his own money. Now the federal government is charging him with stealing money from insurance clients to use in his campaign.
When Kirkpatrick beat Hay two years ago, Kirkpatrick's coffers were more than three times the size of Hay's. Kirkpatrick also had more than $1 million in aid from the national Democratic Party. The national Republican Party didn't have the money to help her or most Republican challengers, Hay noted.
Kirkpatrick already has $1.4 million in her war chest for this year's election.