State Capitol News
4:59 am
Mon August 11, 2014

Republican Gubernatorial Primary Increasingly Going Negative

The Republican gubernatorial primary has gotten so tense between the candidates that party Chairman Robert Graham has told the contenders to just cool it — or risk electing Democrat Fred DuVal in November. Arizona Public Radio’s Howard Fischer reports.

Gubernatorial candidates (from left) Ken Bennett, Christine Jones and Scott Smith.
Credit Capitol Media Services file photo by Howard Fischer


In a letter last week to the candidates, Robert Graham said voters expect an “aggressive and vibrant exchange of ideas.” But, Graham said he is getting e-mails, calls and letters from party faithful disappointed with the tenor of the campaigns.

“We’re right in that heated spot where emotions are at the pinnacle. And so it’s just a gentle reminder like, look, just keep holding down the fort, don’t go any deeper than you need to and let’s stay on point here,” he said.

Graham said his concerns are more than just a matter of image. He said the infighting now could harm GOP efforts in November.

“We have such tremendous headwind right now, the Republican Party does across the state, and nationally for that matter, I don’t want to blow it,” he said.

But, Graham has one big thing working against him: Candidates and their handlers know that going negative seems to work.

“They're going to do everything they can to win. That’s ultimately what it comes down to. But we’re trying to get them to do it in a way that demonstrates style and legitimizes the whole process for all the other voters,” he said.