Rep. Paul Gosar smashed State Sen. Ron Gould in a bid for the Republican nomination in Congressional District 4, which will represent Northern Gila County.
Gosar represented all of Gila County before redistricting split the county in two. But Gosar moved to Prescott to run in a redrawn, overwhelmingly Republican district that includes Rim Country, Prescott, the Verde Valley and most of western Arizona – from Yuma to the Utah border.
The Democratic race remains too close to call, with youth counselor and organizer Johnnie Robinson and teacher, poet and political activist Mikel Weisser locked in a dead heat as counting of provisional ballots continues. At press time, Robinson was ahead by 23 votes.
Meanwhile, former Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick – who Gosar defeated two years ago – started the first step in her comeback by easily winning the Democratic nomination in Congressional District 1, which now includes her base of power in Flagstaff and all of Southern Gila County.
She’ll face Republican Jonathan Paton. Paton pulled in 54 percent of the Gila County vote, in a district with a narrow Republican registration edge that’s considered one of the few competitive seats in the state in the general election.
The results in that race mirrored the district-wide totals, with Kirkpatrick winning 64 percent of the vote on the Democratic side and Paton winning 61 percent on the Republican side.
In District 4, which represents northern Gila County, Gosar won a resounding victory over Gould, who accused the hard-right Gosar of not being conservative enough. Among other things, Gould criticized Gosar for supporting the House Republican leadership’s appeal for an increase in the nation’s debt ceiling as part of a budget-cutting package that later floundered.
Gould picked up just 20 percent of the Gila County vote and Lake Havasu City businessman Rick Murphy about 10 percent of the Gila County vote.
Districtwide, Gosar’s margin fell to 51 percent. He benefited from having two opponents from Lake Havasu City, an area he hasn’t represented and where he has little name recognition.
Districtwide, Gould got 32 percent of the vote and Murphy just 17 percent.
Gould drove the campaign with his attacks on Gosar. One of the most conservative state lawmakers, Gould gained notice in the last session for sponsoring a bill that would prevent universities from banning guns from campus and walking out of the chamber when the Republican dominated house approve an a one-cent sales tax to cushion education from budget cuts. Gould also raised eyebrows with an opening campaign ad that showed him loading a copy of the Affordable Health Care Act into a skeet shooter and blasting it out of the sky with a shotgun.
Gosar also favors immediate repeal of the Affordable Healthcare Act.
The District 1 seat will likely draw national money and attention, since Kirkpatrick hopes to make the seat a Democratic pickup. The Republican National Committee has targeted the race, after already having donated $900,000 to Paton. The Republicans have also targeted Democrat Kyrsten Sinema running against Republican Vernon Parker in District 9, in the eastern Phoenix area.
However, after a rough primary Gosar now heads into an probably easy general election, since Republicans in the redrawn district have an sizeable registration advantage over the Democrats.