The Race Politics in Arizona. Guests Vince Leach and Kelli Ward

District 11 opponents express rather similar positions

FLORENCE — Primary elections are still several months away, but Republican candidates for the Arizona Legislature had an early opportunity to sell themselves at a political forum Saturday morning.

Dozens of people filled a conference room at Sun City Anthem at Merill Ranch to hear how candidates from Legislative Districts 8, 11 and 16 would address state and local issues.

In District 11, which includes Maricopa and the western edge of Casa Grande, participating House candidates were Vince Leach and Mark Finchem. Also participating in the forum was incumbent Rep. Steve Smith  of Maricopa, who is running for the Arizona Senate.

It was announced that House candidate Robert Westerman pulled out of the race Friday.

Questions were submitted by the audience to moderator Christian Price, mayor of Maricopa.

Finchem and Leach are running as a team, so it was no surprise their answers were nearly identical. But then again, answers from almost all the candidates were similar, due to the majority of the…


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Political junkies, take note: The 2014 campaign season promises plenty of sound and fury.

In Southern Arizona, two of the most competitive congressional seats in the country are up for grabs as U.S. Reps. Ron Barber and Ann Kirkpatrick seek to hang on to their jobs. The Nov. 4 election is more than eight months away, but the battle is already joined: Americans for Prosperity, backed by the big-spending Koch brothers, has spent roughly $650,000 on TV attack ads targeting Barber and Kirkpatrick. Last week, the House Majority PAC struck back with $200,000 in TV ads defending the two Democrats.

On the statewide level, term limits and naked ambition are leaving top statewide offices up for grabs. By the end of the year, we’ll have a new governor, a new secretary of state and a new treasurer. Races for attorney general and state superintendent of public instruction promise to be lively affairs. And higher campaign-contribution limits will combine with dark money from independent campaigns to ensure a blizzard of misinformation and malarkey in races across the board.

Here’s our preseason report on who is lining up at the starting gate. Expect changes; candidates have until May 28 to file nominating petitions for the Aug. 26 primary, so feet could get cold or bellies could fire up in the next four months.

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