Politics

Field Set in Arizona's Tossup House District

Republican-turned-Democrat to face off against scandal-plagued Republican

Sheriff Paul Babeu of Pinal County, Arizona, seen here at a Capitol news conference in 2010 with Sen. John McCain, won the Republican primary for the state's 1st District Tuesday. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated Sept. 4 | In Arizona's tossup 1st District, Democrat Tom O'Halleran, a former Republican state senator, will face off against Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu in November.

Babeu easily beat five other Republicans in the primary in this eastern Arizona district, but he brings years of baggage to the race.

[New Light Shed on Old Scandal in Arizona's Sheriff Congressional Race]

A home video publicized earlier this year showed him speaking approvingly of abuse at a school he once led for troubled youth. His first attempt to run for Congress in 2012 was derailed by allegations by a former lover that Babeu threatened him with deportation if he spoke about their romance. The sheriff has been an outspoken critic of illegal immigration. 

McCain carried the district by 4 points under its present boundaries in his 2008 presidential run. Mitt Romney won it by 2 points in 2012. 

Current Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, a Democrat, is giving up her seat to challenge GOP Sen. John McCain, who won his primary handily on Tuesday night.

In the state's 2nd District, Democrat Matt Heinz, a former state representative, won Tuesday's primary and will now take on freshman Republican Martha McSally in November. 

[Knocking Down Barriers McSally-Style]

Republicans have only narrowly carried this seat at the presidential level, but McSally is a strong fundraiser. She raised $983,000 during the 2nd quarter. The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call rates the race a Republican Favored contest. 

The Club for Growth had a good night in the Grand Canyon State. GOP Rep. Paul Gosar, whom the anti-tax group endorsed last week, survived a primary challenge from pastor and city councilman Ray Strauss.

Emboldened by their defeat of Kansas Rep. Tim Huelskamp earlier this month, establishment-backed forces had been spending in this primary to try to knock off Gosar, a member of the House Freedom Caucus. But Strauss had little traction.

In the open 5th District, which House Freedom Caucus member Matt Salmon is leaving at the end of this term, the club's favored candidate, state Senate Majority Leader Andy Biggs won by 9 votes when final unofficial results were tallied early on Sept. 3. Biggs, who was endorsed by Salmon, had been trailing former GoDaddy executive Christine Jones by 876 votes on Election Day. There will be a recount.  

Correction Aug. 31, 2:40 p.m. |  An earlier version of this story declared Jones the winner of the 5th District primary. That race has not been called as yet by the AP.

Contact Pathé at simonepathe@rollcall.com and follow her on Twitter at @sfpathe.

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