Arizona primaries set matchups in targeted House races

Republicans are targeting the 1st District while Democrats are targeting the 6th

Democrat Hiral Tipirneni is running against Arizona GOP Rep. David Schweikert.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Democrat Hiral Tipirneni is running against Arizona GOP Rep. David Schweikert. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
By Bridget Bowman
Posted August 5, 2020 at 6:22am

Arizona will be a crucial battleground in the race for the White House and the Senate, but each party is also targeting a House seat in the Grand Canyon State. 

Tuesday’s primaries set the matchups in the 1st District, which Democrats are defending, and the 6th District, where a scandal-plagued Republican is running for reelection. Also on Tuesday, retired astronaut and Navy veteran Mark Kelly officially won the Democratic nod, running unopposed in the primary to take on appointed GOP Sen. Martha McSally. 

While the Senate race may grab more attention ahead of November, the House races also underscore where each party is looking to make gains. 

Republicans believe their path to the House majority runs through Democratic-held seats that President Donald Trump carried in 2016, including the expansive 1st District, which covers much of northern and eastern Arizona.

Democratic Rep. Tom O’Halleran, a former police officer and co-chairman of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition, fended off a primary challenge from his left in former Flagstaff City Councilmember Eva Putzova on Tuesday. O’Halleran was leading with 59 percent when The Associated Press called the race. 

O’Halleran's GOP challenger is farmer and lawyer Tiffany Shedd, who had 54 percent of the vote to lawyer Nolan Reidhead's 46 percent when the AP called the race at 10 a.m. Mountain time on Wednesday.

Shedd, who is backed by GOP women’s groups looking to grow their numbers in the House, lost a primary to take on O’Halleran in 2018. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the general election Likely Democratic.

Democrats meanwhile are targeting the 6th District outside Phoenix, underscoring their offensive strategy in the suburbs. Trump carried the seat by 10 points, but Democrats are confident they can flip it this cycle, in part because GOP incumbent David Schweikert is mired in a campaign finance scandal. The House last week reprimanded the five-term lawmaker for a series of campaign finance violations and he will have to pay a $50,000 fine.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee backed former emergency room physician Hiral Tipirneni in the primary, which she comfortably won Tuesday. Tipirneni bested three other Democrats, including 2018 nominee Anita Malik. Tipirneni had 54 percent of the primary vote when the AP called the race. 

Tiprineni has proved to be a strong fundraiser, building on the national spotlight from her unsuccessful 2018 bids in the neighboring — and more Republican — 8th District. She raised nearly $2.5 million through July 15 and has a campaign war chest more than five times that of Schweikert’s. Inside Elections rates the race Likely Republican.