Democrats May Lose Seats at Arizona Legislature

Some Democrats thought the party was on its way to taking back control of the Arizona Legislature from the Republican majority.

In 2012, Arizona Democrats won enough seats to break up the super-majority that Republicans had won in 2010.

But in 2014, it's possible that zero Republican seats flip to Democrats, while a few Democratic seats flip to Republicans.

See also: -New Times' 2014 Election Coverage -Democrats Think They Can Take Back Control of Arizona Legislature

The first is southern Arizona's Legislative District 2, where Democratic Representative Demion Clinco is down by more than 2,000 votes to Republican challenger John Ackerley. Although all the precincts have reported votes, these are unofficial results, and the counties still have to deal with any number of provisional or absentee ballots.

To make up 2,000 votes in such circumstances seems highly unlikely. Clinco made it into office through appointment, after the elected representative resigned earlier this year. He made headlines when he announced to his colleagues that he was gay when he stood in strong opposition to Senate Bill 1062, which was widely seen as an anti-gay bill.

Another Democrat who's down is Charlene Fernandez, who's running for one of the two seats in the Arizona House representing Legislative District 4, which includes part of Yuma County, plus rural parts of western Pinal and Maricopa counties.

Fernandez, who's running to replace Representative Juan Carlos Escamilla -- who decided to step down after just one term -- is losing to Republican challenger Richard Hopkins by more than 560 votes.

The other Democrats running in that district, Representative Lisa Otondo and Senator Lynne Pancrazi, both have fairly comfortable leads.

Meanwhile, there is at least one Republican lawmaker who didn't sleep easy last night.

Representative Ethan Orr was second in the three-way race for two House seats in the Tucson-area Legislative District 9, sandwiched between the two Democratic candidates. He's only 133 votes behind the top vote-getter, Democratic Representative Victoria Steele, but only 65 votes ahead of Democratic challenger Randy Friese.

LD 9 is one of only two legislative districts in the state where a Democrat holds one of the House seats, and a Republican holds the other.

The other case is in the Paradise Valley-area LD 28, where Democratic Representative Eric Meyer holds one seat, and Republican Representative Kate Brophy-McGee holds the other.

Meyer appears to have held off a challenge from Republican Shawnna Bolick, leading her by more than 1,800 votes.

There's also one other Democrat who isn't yet out of the woods -- Representative Stefanie Mach is holding on to a slim lead over Republican challenger Todd Clodfelter in the Tucson-area Legislative District 10. Mach is up by just 164 votes, so that race could also change hands after the remaining ballots are counted.

If you're keeping score, the apparent worst-case scenario is that Democrats lose three seats to Republicans. The worst-case scenario for the Republicans is that they lose a single seat, but it seems extremely likely that they'll win back at least one, with Democratic Representative Clinco down big.

Republicans currently have a 17-13 advantage in the Senate, and a 36-24 advantage in the House, so even if Republicans gain the seats in play, they won't be regaining a super-majority in either chamber.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley