GOP primaries

GOP primaries

Phoenix mayor passes on Shadegg seat

The GOP field to replace Rep. John Shadegg (R-Ariz.) won't include the biggest name of all.

Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon has announced that he won't run for the seat.

He would have joined a vast field that so far includes former state Sens. Pam Gorman and Jim Waring, former state Rep. Sam Crump, Paradise Valley Mayor Vernon Parker and Ben Quayle, the son of former Vice President Dan Quayle.

Attorney Jon Hulburd remains the only Democrat in the race, which will be an uphill battle for his party.

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When former congressmen are also-rans

Former Rep. Merrill Cook (R-Utah) is running for office again. This time he is joining the race for Sen. Robert Bennett's (R-Utah) seat.

Though a former member of Congress, Cook likely won't be taken too seriously, given his erratic political career. He has transitioned between running as a Republican and independent and has sought office unsuccessfully several times since leaving Congress.

Cook, who served two terms in Congress last decade, most recently lost at the GOP nominating convention in a bid to win his old 2nd district seat in 2008.

Attorney Mike Lee, former congressional candidate Tim Bridgewater and activist Cherilyn Eager are Bennett's more serious opponents.

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Quote of the day

"He apparently doesn’t like it. That’s too bad. Welcome to the NFL." -Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, on Senate primary opponent Marco Rubio.

Rubio today was dealing with the fallout from the leak of a state GOP credit card statement that showed he expensed personal items on the party's card.

Crist was responding to Rubio's charges that Crist's campaign was behind the leak.

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Norton's GOP opponents on the air

The airwaves are starting to light up in Colorado’s GOP Senate primary, and much of it isn’t benefiting former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton.

The conservative Declaration Alliance is up with TV and radio ads (see TV ad above) labeling Norton a liberal, big-government bureaucrat. The buys total about $47,000, according to sources.

And self-funding former state Sen. Tom Wiens is up with his own $10,000 radio buy in the Denver and Colorado Springs markets.

Norton herself, of course, went up with a TV ad during President Barack Obama’s recent campaign visit for Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.).

The early ad buys are significant in a state where the primary isn’t being held until August. The precinct caucuses begin next month, though, and Norton’s opponents will likely try to take a bite out of her there.

UPDATE: The Norton campaign's response: "First and foremost, the Declaration ads are patently false. Jane Norton cut spending in both of her government positions, unlike Ken Buck, who has ballooned his budget by 50 percent since becoming (Weld County District Attorney). But the overarching issue here is that it's unfortunate that Tom Wiens and Ken Buck's supporters would rather attack a fellow conservative than focus on the overspending in Washington."

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Hayworth touts support from Romney backers

Arizona Republican Senate candidate J.D. Hayworth is trumpeting support from backers of 2008 GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

That would not be considered out of the ordinary, except for the fact that Romney has endorsed the man Hayworth is challenging; Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)

Hayworth, a former congressman and talk radio host, took to Twitter Wednesday to show that Romney supporters have created a Facebook group titled "Mitt Romney Supporters for JD Hayworth."

Observers predicted that Romney's endorsement would allow McCain, the GOP presidential nominee in 2008, to collect conservative support that he needs since Hayworth is challenging him on the right.

As with any endorsement, it's unclear to which candidate Romney supporters will flock. So far, the Facebook group only has 66 members. 

Cross-posted to the Twitter Room

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GOP House candidate jabs Rubio

Did a Republican House candidate just question Marco Rubio’s conservatism?

It appears some bad blood between Rubio and former state Rep. Dennis Ross will carry into an election year in which both could carry the GOP’s hopes in the Sunshine State.

In seeking to separate himself from his party and emphasize his conservatism instead, Ross, the top NRCC recruit for Rep. Adam Putnam’s (R-Fla.) open seat, alluded to a run-in he had with then-state House Speaker Rubio in 2007.

Turns out, Rubio removed Ross from his chairmanship because he bucked party leadership. And Ross doesn’t sound like he’s ready to forgive and forget.

“I lost my chairmanship by a Republican speaker; my political career was at an end,” Ross said. “Coincidentally, what happened, however, was that people started seeing that it’s the conservative principles that they want to have lead them, that it’s not the Republican label.

“More coincidentally, the Republican candidate leading the conservative movement right now in the U.S. Senate is Marco Rubio, who was the speaker at the time that took my chairmanship away from me. I believe that the people want to see practicing conservatives when they go to vote.”

Pressed on whether he thought Rubio is a “practicing conservative,” Ross deflected.

“Marco is a good friend,” he said.

Tension, much?

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GOPer drops bid in Mitchell's district

Businessman Eric Wnuck (R) has dropped out of the primary to face Rep. Harry Mitchell (D-Ariz.).

Wnuck made news in the third quarter when he announced a strong $160,000 raised. He saw his fundraising fall off significantly in the fourth quarter, though, and he said he needs to focus on his business.

"As many of you can understand, this is a tough economy and we all have been affected," he said in a statement. "I too have been impacted and need to concentrate on protecting my business and all of my employees whose jobs and families depend on its success. But most importantly, I must focus on what has always been my first priority, my family."

Wnuck also threw his support behind businessman Jim Ward, who faces a pair of repeat candidates in the primary: 2008 nominee David Schweikert and runner-up Susan Bitter Smith, who launched her campaign last week.

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Crist says he has no regrets about accepting federal stimulus funds

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R) said he has no regrets about accepting stimulus funds on behalf of the Sunshine State despite criticism from other Republicans.

Crist, who's locked in a very competitive primary challenge from his right being waged by former Florida state House Speaker Marco Rubio (R), defended accepting assistance from the $787 billion Recovery Act signed into law a year ago.

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Burton won't debate primary challengers

The AP is reporting that Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) says he will not debate his primary opponents.

Burton was narrowly re-nominated in 2008 and faces four serious primary challengers this year. But he said his obligations in Washington and his town hall appearances should be enough for voters.

It's not unusual for an incumbent to decline debate invitations, but usually they cite scheduling conflicts instead of saying flat-out that they won't debate. And endangered incumbents generally will agree to some debates if they feel they are really in trouble.

In short, it's an interesting approach from Burton to rule out debates two and a half months before the May 4 primary. Look for his opponents to hit him hard for his stance.

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