Rep. David Schweikert (above) remains confident in internal polling that shows him leading fellow freshman Rep. Ben Quayle.
“It’s a double-edged sword,” Quayle acknowledged. “Obviously, the people I’ve met over the course of many years have been able to help and give guidance and give support.”
“But then the other side of it,” he continued, “you have a lot of attention and a lot of arrows getting slung at you, so you have to prove yourself that much more.”
Within the House Republican Conference, Quayle has earned the reputation of a quiet workhorse who keeps his head down. That popularity was reflected when at least six of his fellow Members donated to his campaign in the last report.
But at home, the Schweikert campaign and others in the state have made a concerted effort to portray him as a playboy carpetbagger.
In redistricting, Quayle was just barely drawn out of the 6th district — by about half a block — and has since moved fully into the seat’s boundaries. Early on, Schweikert, too, was carved out but was drawn back in prior to the map’s finalization. There is anger among some Republicans that Quayle did not run in the tossup 9th district, although most unaffiliated political observers concede he got a raw deal in redistricting.
On Capitol Hill, there has been no overt evidence that House GOP leadership is playing favorites in this Member-vs.-Member contest.
Arizona’s Republican House delegation has been equally reluctant to endorse. All but Rep. Trent Franks have primaries of their own. Rep. Paul Gosar has a primary challenge, and Rep. Jeff Flake is in a tougher-than-expected Senate primary with real estate investor Wil Cardon. Amid all of the contentious primaries, strategists say there is no political upside to endorsing in other primaries.
“Everyone’s just sort of mono-focused on their own lives,” Schweikert said.
Gosar, who came to Congress in the 2010 wave with Schweikert and Quayle, offered another reason he has opted not to endorse.
“I’m going to lose a friend,” he said.
When it comes to Quayle and Schweikert’s friendship, both men say they have been friendly but were not the closest of friends prior to this race. The campaign rhetoric has been hot. A Schweikert PAC TV ad personally attacked Quayle, and Quayle’s team questioned the honesty of the Schweikert team on a litany of issues.
Still, the race has not been as nasty as many expected. Even though it has picked up in recent weeks, both Congressmen have avoided throwing around personally negative rhetoric about the other.
Quayle described their relationship as “cordial.”
“We’ve had snippets of the conversation that we understand this is the job,” Schweikert said. “Being competitive is part of the process.”
Correction: Aug. 9, 2012
An earlier version of this article contained a subheadline with incorrect information about early mail-in ballot counts.