Despite only winning the GOP primary with about 20 percent of the Republican vote -- meaning about 80 percent of the Republicans in his district didn't vote for him -- some of the loudest applause at the GOP election night party was for Congressman-elect Ben Quayle, who has unofficially defeated Democratic candidate Jon Hulburd to become the replacement for outgoing Congressman John Shaddegg.
Going into tonight, the only poll conducted on the race gave Hulburd a slim lead -- which, at the time, was shocking considering Arizona's Third Congressional District is historically a Republican stronghold. But, as we pointed out when the poll was released, it was a flawed poll for several reasons.
Quayle says he was never too worried about the poll, even though many media outlets treated it like gospel.
As of 11:23 p.m., 239 of 241 precincts have reported and Quayle leads Hulburd by about 18,000 votes.
"We were stronger on the issues, and there are some serious issues facing Arizona -- and the rest of the country -- right now. And that's what people want to hear about" an excited Quayle tells New Times after his victory speech. "We stuck to the issues and ran a strong campaign."
Quayle's campaign didn't go negative, despite relentless attacks from Hulburd, which Quayle credits -- in part -- to his victory.
"[Hulburd] has to live with the campaign he ran," Quayle says.
Quayle, it appears, has mended some fences amongst his Republican opponents in the primary, too.
We caught up with former state Senator Jim Waring, one of Quayle's nine opponents in the vicious GOP primary. Waring says he's behind Quayle -- despite being a front-runner in the primary until Quayle announced his candidacy.
Before knowing the results of the race, we asked Waring if he planned on mounting another Congressional run in 2012 if Quayle didn't pull out a victory. After joking that he'd need to check with his wife first, he said, "[Quayle's] gonna win...he's gonna win. If he doesn't, check back with me."
After our conversation with Waring, we overheard a woman tell him he ran a good primary campaign. Waring responded, "If it were a good race, I would have won -- there's no silver medal in these things."
Congressman Jeff Flake also was confident in a Quayle victory.
"He's the right choice, and I think he'll prevail," Flake told New Times before knowing the outcome of the race.
As for Quayle's Achilles heal, his ties to the Web site The Dirty, Flake says, "It sounds like he's put it past him -- he'll make a great congressman."