The Republican gubernatorial primary has become nothing short of ugly. Between attack ads and vicious accusations of tax evasion, questionable ethics, and outpouring “dark money,” this primary season was one for the books.
The six candidates for the primary ticket have relentlessly attacked each other to the point where any eventual consensus for the party line seems improbable. In differentiating themselves for Republican and Independent voters, they have lost their appeal to both the moderates and the morally inclined.
Outside money and attack ads have been prominent in this primary, and it’s resulted in nasty ads that leave the candidates’ hands supposedly clean. GoDaddy founder Bob Parsons has donated more than $2 million in aid of his former legal council, Christine Jones. In the week leading into the election, The Arizona Free Enterprise Club reportedly spent $150,000 in an ad attacking Scott Smith and supporting candidate Doug Ducey.
Illegal immigration is at the forefront of issues in this race, and thus is an ideal topic to cover in these ads. Candidates’ self-proclamations promise that they are the hardest on illegal immigration, and each guarantee that they will stop the influx of immigrants into Arizona. A compilation of the outrageous claims made by the Republican candidates shows their ability to make promises to “secure the border.”
Jones plans on “send(ing) Obama the bill,” and Bennett asserts, “Good neighbors don’t hop the fence.” Disbarred former prosecutor and candidate Andrew Thomas threatens the state to elect him “before it’s too late.” A middle of the road agenda is non-existent, and they neglect to appeal to a diverse Arizona.
Their ads are filled with rhetoric, but will easily deter the moderate voter. Their assertions have been easy for their opponents in the same party to contest, and will be further criticized by the Democrats during the general gubernatorial election.
Moreover, following the primary election on Tuesday, these candidates will be expected to lend support to the victor and competitor against uncontested Democrat nominee, Fred DuVal. However, the decisive lines they have drawn will make it exceptionally difficult. DuVal enters the general campaign nearly scott-free and with morals intact against a candidate whose name has been tarnished by members of his or her own party.
The Republicans are digging their own grave and making widespread Independent, Hispanic, and moderate Republican support increasingly unlikely because of their extreme views. The jabs each candidate has made against each other from being a “failed” businessman to lacking moral character is a loaded gun for the Democrats.
With the unusual amount of “dark money” entering the primary campaign, the ferocity of campaigning has followed behind. The routine Republican business savvy, disdain for President Obama and illegal immigration was not enough in this campaign. Making morally crippling allegations and outspending other candidates was the objective of this primary campaign, and each candidate was wildly successful in this regard. Their ads have desecrated the airwaves to the point that it has become nearly impossible to decipher the truth behind each candidate.
The attack ads aired this campaign season may prove to be reckless for Republicans in Arizona. In a state that is known for being red — or at the very least pink — the Republicans come into the general election with an inherent advantage. However, it is clear that the malicious nature of this primary campaign will now cause some difficulties for the primary Republican victor.
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Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.
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