For those of you who have been paying attention to this election season since its start last summer, fatigue is an understatement.
With just a little more than a month away from Nov. 8, the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce hosted a panel of experts who offered their projections and insights on this roller coaster ride of an election season.
The panelists at the event were:
- Barry Dill, partner, FirstStrategic Communications & Public Affairs
- Warde Nichols, principal, Clarus Companies
- Sean Noble, partner, Axiom Public Affairs
As far as local elections for the State Legislature go, the panelists agreed that from both sides of the aisle the candidates and next year’s legislature will be much more business friendly and more engaged with the state’s business community.
This election, Dill said the Democrats are hoping to split the State Senate by gaining three more seats, moving from a 18-12, Republican majority to a 15-15 split. Both Nichols and Dill do not see that happening this year though.
Below is each panelists’ projections and what they think will happen this election season:
Arizona State Legislature Projections
Dill said the Democratic Party in Arizona has a plan to split the state senate, which involves districts 6, 8, 18 and 28. Democrats hope to win within all of those districts, but Dill and Nichols believe it’s unrealistic they’ll be able to win all of them. The most likely pickup for the democrats, both Dill and Nichols said, would be in District 18.
Nichols said there are a lot of strong Democrats running in both the State Senate and House of Representatives races in District 18. In the House, both Republican incumbents, Bob Robson and Jill Norgaard stand a chance of losing, Nichols said.
Sean Bowie, the Democrat running for Senate in District 18, stands a chance of beating Frank Schmuck, the Republican who beat incumbent Jeff Dial in the primaries, Dill said.
Democrats are going to have a hard time protecting Democrat incumbent Barbara McGuire against Frank Pratt, Dill said. At the end of the elections, Dill believes there will be a shift to a 17-13 Republican majority in the senate, but not the 15-15 split democrats hope for.
There has been much talk of Arizona going blue in a presidential election for the first time since Bill Clinton won the state in 1996, this year, but that doesn’t seem realistic either according to the panel.
Dill, who predicted Bill Clinton would win Arizona in 1996, says this year the democrats will most likely fall short. At the moment, the panelists see an easier road to the White House for Clinton, but the election is still close and could hinge on an event that has not yet happened.
Noble sees a tough race for Republican Paul Babeu in Congressional District 1 against Democrat Tom O’Halleran. Noble said that Republicans running in that district typically struggle, because they aren’t from that area, noting when Republican Andy Tobin ran for the seat. Tobin is from Prescott, and to many in that District he might as well be from California, Noble said.
Babeu faces a similar problem, Noble said, because Babeu is from Pinal County and has been Sheriff of that county since 2008.
In McCain’s reelection race against Ann Kirkpatrick, Noble said McCain will win handily, while acknowledging that Kirkpatrick has run a “decent race.”