Tempe Republican in-laws hope to cut into Democratic vote

Ray and Rebecca Speakman are challenging LD26 democrats

A father-in-law and daughter-in-law duo running as candidates for Arizona’s House of Representatives and State Senate hope to shift Tempe’s Legislative District 26 from Democratic to Republican in the midterm elections on Nov. 6. 

Ray and Rebecca Speakman said their biggest challenge in facing a Democratic district is the greater number of registered Democratic voters in District 26 versus the number of registered Republican voters.

There were just under 13,000 more registered active Democratic voters than active Republican voters in August 2018, according to a registration report from the Arizona Secretary of State website.

Ray Speakman is running for Arizona's House of Representatives and Rebecca Speakman is running for the Arizona State Senate. In this election, Rebecca Speakman is opposed by Democratic incumbent Juan Mendez, and Ray Speakman is opposed by two Democratic incumbents, Isela Blanc and Athena Salman.

Rebecca Speakman said she and her father-in-law decided to run for office together in January after seeing a need for more options among candidates on the ballot.

Rebecca Speakman said although she and Ray Speakman are running as Republican candidates, their politics are not “as different as (Democratic voters) might suspect.”

The Speakmans said education reform is a major part of their campaign, citing support for school choice.

Ray Speakman said he and Rebecca Speakman want to develop a relationship with the leadership at ASU and the state legislature so local businesses can provide more job opportunities for students who have graduated.

Because ASU's Tempe campus is in District 26, Ray Speakman said providing these opportunities for students is “a very important part” of their campaign.

Ray Speakman also said education and its relationship to the economy is “a critical marriage” and important in ensuring jobs within the area for college students to eliminate the need to move out of state when seeking employment after graduation.

“If that education base is right, then the businesses will come,” Ray Speakman said. “It also is so incredibly important to our public safety. The more educated our people are, the less crime there is. Education is the foundation of it all.”

Rebecca Speakman said she and her father-in-law are optimistic about winning the election if voters disregard their party affiliations and decide who to vote for based on the views, values and politics of the candidates.

“If people are willing to take the time to do a little bit of research and to really get to know our politics as opposed to our opponents’ politics, I think that those people will be willing to disregard party lines and vote for who they think is able to best represent them," she said.

When members of the district cast their votes, they should be presented with more than one candidate, she said. 

Although Ray and Rebecca Speakman are both running as Republicans, they differ on solutions to issues such as gun control and immigration reform. Rebecca's husband and Ray's son, Nathan Speakman, said the duo is amicable toward each other about their disagreements.

“They can both voice their opinions without arguing much about it,” Nathan Speakman said. “They come away agreeing, nodding their heads together.”

Ray Speakman said he and Rebecca look forward to making changes and moving their district forward if elected.

“We’re just a mother and a grandpa in the workforce,” Ray Speakman said. “We’re not politicians, but we do love our community.” 

 Reach the reporter at cdilger@asu.edu or follow @camdilger on Twitter.

Like The State Press on Facebook and follow @statepress on Twitter.

Get the best of State Press delivered straight to your inbox.