Rep. Jeff Flake Wins Arizona GOP Senate Primary

Congressman Jeff Flake won last night’s Republican primary for the Senate seat currently held by Arizona’s Jon Kyl:

 U.S. Rep. Jeff Flake handily won the Republican primary in the race to replace retiring Sen. Jon Kyl, setting up a general-election race with former U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona that is expected to be much more competitive.

Flake, who has served six terms in the House, jumped out to a huge lead over businessman Wil Cardon, who spent millions of his own dollars trying to win the GOP nomination. Cardon, a political unknown, had flooded the radio and TV airwaves with his ads, but in pre-election polls, Flake always held commanding double-digit leads — a difference that showed up immediately in Tuesday’s vote counts.

Flake will now face Carmona, who had no opponent in the primary. Some polls earlier in the summer indicated Carmona in a tight race with Flake and with a slight advantage in campaign funds headed into the general election.

Flake, speaking from his home in Mesa on Tuesday night, said he believes he and Carmona offer such differing visions for Arizona that voters will find the choice easy to make.

“I’m going to be talking about jobs, the economy, about our debt, our deficit, what our federal government needs to do to allow job creation,” Flake said. “What you’ll see is Rich Carmona defending the president’s agenda. It’s what he’s done so far, and it’s what he’s going to do.”

Carmona’s campaign said the Democratic candidate will air his first television spot starting today. It will highlight his personal story as a special-forces soldier, a trauma surgeon and a deputy sheriff.

Kyl, who endorsed Flake as his replacement, suggested Cardon’s attacks on Flake did him no good in the election.

“His (Cardon’s) reputation has not been enhanced at all,” Kyl told The Arizona Republic during an interview Tuesday at the Republican National Convention in Tampa. “He hurt Jeff Flake, which will not be good for the general election, and he divided the Republican electorate.”

The polling on a Flake-Carmona race has been all over the place. Currently, the RCP average gives Flake a +6.7 advantage, and one poll back in July had him as much as 16 points ahead. However, a more recent Public Policy Polling poll, had the race tied. The one thing prevalent in all the polls, though, is a fairly high undecided number at 20% or higher. This should be an interesting race to watch, but, this being Arizona, it would seem that Flake will be aided by strong Romney coattails. I would expect this to be a Republican hold in November.

FILED UNDER: 2012 Election, Congress, US Politics, , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I would expect this to be a Republican hold in November.

    I am surprised it is a race at all.

  2. I think a lot of the polling you’re seeing there is impacted by relatively low name recognition for both candidates. That’ll change

  3. al-Ameda says:

    This should be an interesting race to watch, but, this being Arizona, it would seem that Flake will be aided by strong Romney coattails.

    I do not think Romney has coattails at all, it is just “hate Obama” and it’s Arizona.

    Why are Democrats running a candidate at all? I think Flake wins by over 10%.

  4. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Just what we need, another flake in the Senate.

    On a serious note, obviously Flake is going to win the general, PPP is the new Zogby and Judis/Teixeira were unavailable for comment.

  5. James Joyner says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: I actually saw the headline somewhere this morning “Flake Wins Republican Senate Nomination in Arizona.” My initial thought we, jeez, another one?

  6. Herb says:

    @James Joyner:

    My initial thought we, jeez, another one?


    I saw a few political commercials during my visit to AZ, so I can see why Kyl is saying that Cardon’s reputation hasn’t been enhanced. Cardon’s ads were all about how Jeff Flake sucks. Jeff Flake’s ads had Kyl in them.