The field of congressional candidates is shrinking in the Arizona primary elections

Arizona’s field of congressional candidates became a little clearer after Monday’s deadline to submit signatures to qualify for the Aug. 2 primary.

So far at least, there have been no big surprises: the expected group of challengers have produced enough signatures to potentially contest the ballot, and most incumbents won’t face any challengers from their own party.

The anticlimactic performance contrasts with 2020, when Shay Stautz, a Republican from Tucson who is expected to contest the GOP nomination, dropped out of the race before challenging the signatures his campaign garnered. In 2018, Republican Seth Leibsohn failed to qualify for the ballot due to a surprise shortage of signatures.

This time around, most Arizona incumbents, who lead new congressional districts across the state, at least have the opportunity to be nominated by their party.

Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Arizona, easily garnered the most signatures in his re-election bid. Five Republican challengers also made the vote with room to spare. They are Mark Brnovich, Jim Lamon, Blake Masters, Mick McGuire and Justin Olson. Libertarian Marc Victor also qualified for his party’s primary.

In home racing, Rep. David Schweikert, R-Arizona, occupies what might be Arizona’s most competitive district, which includes much of the Northeast Valley. He is expected to face two Republican challengers: Josh Barnett and Elijah Norton. At least two Democrats — Jevin Hodge and Ginger Torres — will be vying for the right to challenge whoever comes out of this primary.

Norton has garnered more signatures than Schweikert, who is seeking a seventh term in Washington.

Rep. Tom O’Halleran, D-Arizona, is considered the state’s most threatened incumbent after Congress’s new map placed him in a district that still includes northeastern Arizona, but now includes the Prescott area, and voted for former President Donald Trump. by around 7 percentage points in 2020.

Democratic Rep. Tom O'Halleran hopes to retain his seat in Congress.

The three-term Democrat is unopposed in the primary, but has seven GOP challengers vying for the chance to knock him down.

They include: Walt Blackman; Eli Crane; Mark DeLuzio; Steven Krystofiak; John Moore; Ron Watkins; and Andy Yates.

A Tucson-based district that has no incumbent has eight candidates trying to replace incumbent Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz.

For the Democrats, Avery Anderson, Kirsten Engel and Daniel Hernandez made the primary ballot.

The Republicans are Juan Ciscomani, Lucretia Free, Brandon Martin, Young Mayberry and Kathleen Winn.

Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Arizona, has three GOP challengers in his new district in western Arizona. They are Sandra Dowling, Randy Kutz and Adam Morgan. The winner will likely travel to Washington, with no Democrats qualifying in what is likely the most Republican district in the state.

Rep. Greg Stanton, D-Arizona, has no Democratic challengers in his new Tempe-based district, but there are plenty of Republicans hoping to block his path to a third term. They include: Kelly Cooper, Jerone Davison, Dave Giles, Rene Lopez, Alex Stovall and Tanya Wheeless.

Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Arizona, was perhaps the biggest winner, with no Democrats or Republicans qualifying to challenge her for another two years in Washington, representing the Northwest Valley.

Representatives Andy Biggs, R-Arizona, and Ruben Gallego, D-Arizona, each have a challenger from the opposing party in their districts, neither of which is likely to produce an election upset. Democrat Javier Ramos has no competition for the right to face Biggs. Likewise, Republican Jeff Zink has no challengers for the GOP nomination against Gallego.

Zink’s status is more precarious: he qualified with the exact number of signatures needed. Arizona voters have until April 18 formally challenge the signatures collected by the campaigns, which could erase at least part of their totals.

Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Arizona, the dean of the state’s congressional delegation, has two Republican challengers in his bid for an 11th term representing southwestern Arizona. They are Nina Becker and Luis Pozzolo.

Contact reporter Ronald J. Hansen at [email protected] or 602-444-4493. Follow him on Twitter @ronaldjhansen.

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