Senate Republicans may face an uphill battle to reclaim Congress's upper chamber this November, but there is at least one state where they are coasting: Arizona.
The race to replace retiring Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl is so far not settled - there is an August 28th Republican primary between Rep. Jeff Flake and businessman Wil Cardon. But Flake is ahead in polls by double-digit margins and appears all but certain to face Democrat Richard Carmona, a former U.S. surgeon general, in the November general election.
Flake, a congressman since 2003, initially pledged to serve just three terms in the House and retire in January of 2007. He later changed his mind and successfully won two more terms. He is known as somewhat independent-minded in the House, sometimes voting against GOP bills with which he disagrees. He has had a fairly easy re-election history, running unopposed several times.
Carmona, a former deputy sheriff in Pima County, served as the U.S. surgeon general from 2002 to 2006 as an appointee of President George W. Bush but split with the administration after his departure.
Technically registered as an independent, he has affiliated himself with the Democratic Party and has no opposition in the Democratic primary, which is on August 28th as well.
Polling on the expected Flake-Carmona general election shows Flake ahead, just outside the margin of error. An average of the most recent surveys conducted by the political Web site Real Clear Politics shows him over Carmona by 6.7 percentage points as of July 25th.
Flake also holds the edge in fundraising. According to Federal Election Commission records, he has $2.76 million in the bank, compared to $1.57 million for Carmona.
The retiring Kyl, who is 70, was a representative from 1987 to 1995, and a senator ever since. He began to be elected to leadership positions in 2003, culminating in his 2007 election to the minority whip position - the No. 2 position in the party -- by his GOP colleagues. He is the first Arizona congressman to hold such a leadership position since the early 1950s.
by RTT Staff Writer
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