The fund-raising frontrunners on both sides of the hard-fought primary battle for Congressional District One appeared headed for victory with about two-thirds of the vote reported as of about 8:30 p.m. Tuesday. Former state lawmaker and Flagstaff prosecutor Ann Kirkpatrick was running away with the Democratic nomination with 75 percent of the precincts reporting. Kirkpatrick had 19,728 votes, or 49 percent of the total.
On the Republican side, former mining company lobbyist Sydney Hay held a narrow lead, with 39 percent of the vote. Incumbent Rick Renzi decided not to run for re-election after he was indicted for allegedly trying to influence a federal land trade that would have benefited his business partner. The district is larger than
Pennsylvania, but mostly encompasses sparsly inhabited high desert. The biggest chunk of the population in the district lives in Flagstaff, while about 10 percent of the voters residing in Rim Country. Although
the district has a narrow Democratic edge, Republicans often win here -- thanks in large measure to the preferences of the 24 percent voters listed as independents.
On the Democratic side, Mary Kim Titla, an Apache publisher and former TV newswoman, was running second with 12,491 votes -- or 31 percent. Environmental and tribal lawyer Howard Shanker trailed with 5,489, or
14 percent of the vote.
Mental health advocate Jeffrey Brown trailed the field with 2,235 votes, or 6 percent of the total. Titla actually led Kirkpatrick about 1,446 votes to 1,222 in Gila County precincts of the district. The entire district sprawls from the northern boundary of the state all the way to Casa Grande some 50 miles south of Phoenix.
Kirkpatrick raised in excess of $1.1 million, more than all the other candidates on both sides combined. As of the last period before the election, she still had $400,000 in cash on hand for what promises to be a fiercely fought general election campaign. The Democratic National Party has made the seat a top priority and reportedly committed a million dollars for the general election.
Kirkpatrick, who ran on her record as a prosecutor and her close work with the tribes and schools as a state lawmaker, will probably face mining company lobbyist and conservative activist Sydney Hay, if the results hold steady. With 75 percent of the vote counted, Hay had 13,400 votes -- about 39 percent. But she remained locked in a close race with former state department official and law professor Sandra Livingston, who had 12,063 votes -- or about 35 percent.
Hay raised $412,000 in her race, including a $70,000 loan to her own campaign. Livingston raised $227,000, most of it in the form of a $200,000 loan to her own campaign.
The other Republican contenders finished far behind the frontrunners. Sedona minister Barry Hall had 2,000 votes, or 6 percent. Alternative energy engineer Tom Hansen had 6,000 votes, or 17 percent.
Hay led by a much larger margin in Gila County precincts, racking up a two-to-one advantage over Livingston in Rim Country precincts.
Livingston had hoped that her pioneering family roots in Rim Country stretching back to Spanish land grants in the 1700s would boost her prospects in the area, although she only recently returned to Arizona to start her law practice in Flagstaff after a career that spanned the globe. She was a law professor at Cambridge, taught English in Mongolia, earned degrees in international law and working in the George Bush state department in the run up to the invasion of Iraq.
Hay, on the other hand, gained her political experience in the conservative trenches of various statewide ballot initiatives, including measures that promoted school choice by allowing parents to get taxpayer supported grants to put their kids in private schools and measures designed to make it much harder for the legislature to raise taxes.
None of the candidates had sharp differences on policy from one another in the primary, although Titla generally took more conservative positions on social issues than Kirkpatrick.
But Hay and Kirkpatrick have fundamental differences from one another, should they face off in the general election.
Hay supports a relatively straight line conservative agenda, favoring a ban on abortions and gay marriage, continuation of the Bush tax cuts, privatization of Social Security and little government role in
providing health care.
Livingston opposes constitutional changes to restrict abortion or gay rights, repeal of many of the Bush tax cuts, universal health care with a strong government role and reform of Social Security while retaining
a government model.