Originally Published: October 13, 2012 10 p.m.
Arizona is a red state, but it used to be blue. At the turn of the 20th century and thereabout, Arizona was merely an overwhelmingly rural stretch of desert in the Southwest. Its few residents traced their roots to the Confederacy, and it was overwhelmingly Democratic.
Over the years, increasing numbers of people from the Midwest and California turned to our state and, with that influx, the political landscape of Arizona gradually began to change.
It was in 1952 when, according to realclearpolitics.com, Arizona experienced a "political earthquake." John Rhodes defeated 16-year incumbent Democrat John Murdock by eight points in the Maricopa County-based Congressional District 1, while department store owner Barry Goldwater defeated Senate Majority Leader Ernest McFarland by two points statewide. When Goldwater resigned that Senate seat in 1964 to claim the GOP's presidential nod, the Republicans were the majority party in the state.
Arizona has since been inching back toward the Democratic Party as suburban areas have trended left and as Latinos increase their vote share in the state. Meanwhile, in Yavapai County, according to a report by the Secretary of State, registered Republicans (53,372 as of February 2012) still outnumber Democrats (25,553); however, the number of independents (38,844) is an ever-present yet intangible voting block.
As Arizona remains a Republican state overall - with the GOP maintaining majorities in the state Senate since 1992 and the state House since 1962, according to Courier archives - Democrats have a thin bench. Over the years they have struggled to consistently field strong challengers.
With the retirement of U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl, Democrats have turned to former Surgeon General Richard Carmona to take on Republican Congressman Jeff Flake. It is a race that, boiled down, is a difficult one to call. Polls are split, with two favoring Flake and two leaning toward Carmona. The advantage of each is within the polls' percentages of error.
Thus, it is disheartening when voters are bombarded by their constant mudslinging through emails and television advertisements. These men are sending the wrong messages. Instead of "vote for me," voters are left to guess who is telling the truth, where this will stop and who will stoop lower.
Flake has a solid conservative voting record that pundits say might be a bit to the right of the electorate these days.
Remember, though, this still is a red state.
The Daily Courier will issue its endorsements for the General Election on Sunday, Oct. 21.