Romney-Backed AZ House Candidate Leads In Too Close To Call Primary


As of Wednesday morning, the Republican primary for Arizona’s 1st Congressional District was too close to call, with Arizona House Speaker Andy Tobin barely leading oilman Gary Kiehne and state Rep. Adam Kwasman trailing the two other candidates in the primary.

With 99.6 percent of precincts reporting, Tobin was leading the two other candidates with 35.9 percent of the vote. Kiehne trailed close behind with 35.2 percent and Kwasman had 28.9 percent of the vote.

Tobin had the backing of the Chamber of Commerce and Mitt Romney among others. In the past week or so the Chamber of Commerce spent $300,000 worth of advertising on Tobin, according to Politico. Romney also recorded a robocall for Tobin. He was pushed by national Republicans as the single candidate in the primary who could beat Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ) even though Kirkpatrick is considered by some as one of the more vulnerable Democrats in Congress. Kwasman, meanwhile, had the support of the conservative outside group FreedomWorks.

In the weeks leading up to the primary Tucson Weekly flagged Tobin arguing that immigrants from Central America could bring the Ebola virus with them, even though the outbreak is contained in West Africa.

Gary Kiehne, a wealthy oilman rancher and member of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys’ Association, was himself at the center of an eyebrow-raising moment in the primary when he was taped at one point saying that “99 percent” of mass shootings have been by Democrats. Kiehne eventually apologized.

Kwasman trailed the three candidates. TPM readers will recall, that Kwasman was the state lawmaker who made national headlines for accidentally claiming that a YMCA bus was actually a bus of immigrant children. He also, paradoxically, defended a high profile anti-gay discrimination bill in Arizona as making “no mention” of sexual discrimination.