Biggest Scoundrels of Arizona Politics Win Some, Lose Some in Primaries

Don Shooter
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Tuesday's primary election proved a mandate for some of the states' most colorful rogues — the politicians who shamed themselves in some way before launching their 2018 campaigns.

A dirty old man from Yuma who got kicked out of the Arizona Legislature, an embittered ex-schools chief, a disgraced judge, a Prescott lawmaker who worries there "aren't enough white kids" in the state. The slate was richer than ever with scoundrels this year. But there should be fewer in 2020, considering that most of this group had their butts handed to them in today's election.

Here's how they fared:

Joe Arpaio

The 86-year-old ex-politician and lawman has led a storied and scandalous career, and it all seems to have come to an end tonight. Arpaio, as expected, fell off to a distant third place behind Kelli Ward and the primary winner, Martha McSally, as votes came in, getting less than 20 percent of the vote. Read more about his buffoonish, ultimately unsuccessful campaign for U.S. Senate in the latest election wrap-up by Phoenix New Times writer Joseph Flaherty.

click to enlarge ANTONIA FARZAN
Antonia Farzan
David Stringer

The businessman from Prescott held onto his seat as representative in Legislative District 1 despite of, or because of, his anti-immigrant views. Following Stringer's nationally embarrassing comments in June about "white kids," even fellow Republican Doug Ducey wanted Stringer to hang it up. As of 9:40 p.m., he had 36.4 percent of the vote, behind Noel Campbell, but safely ahead of Jodi Rooney. The top two vote-getters will face Democrats Jan Manolis and Ed Gogek in November.

Don Shooter

You can't keep a good man down. Don Shooter, the sexually harassing legislator from Yuma, isn't a good man. Early returns show him losing the Senate District 13 race with 20 percent of the vote. After verbally abusing women for years before his peers voted to remove him from the State House, Yuma voters threw a metaphorical glass of wine in his face on Tuesday, appearing to have stopped him cold from his ignominious attempt at a re-run. Sine Kerr appeared to be the winner with 49.5 percent.

Tim Jeffries

Voters in Arizona Senate District 23 may have dashed the smiley-faced dreams of the former director of the state Department of Economic Services on Tuesday. Jeffries had fought a mud-slinging campaign against his primary competitor, Michelle Ugenti-Rita, the heroine who first outed Don Shooter as a #MeToo offender. But Ugenti-Rita was beating Jeffries by 705 votes, or 39.9 percent to 36.6 percent, at about 9:40 p.m.

Greg Patterson

The smart-as-a-whip former lawmaker who was forced to resign his seat in 2017 as chair of the Arizona Board of Regents has increased his odds of getting back into the State Legislature. Patterson came in a distant, but safe, second place with 25.4 percent of the vote. Incumbent Jill Norgaard got 43.7 percent. They'll compete against Democrats Denise "Mitzi" Epstein and Jennifer Jermaine in November. Meanwhile, Farhana Shifa finished in third place with 18.8 percent in the Republican primary, and Don Hawker came in last with 12.1 percent.

click to enlarge Greg Patterson - ASU
Greg Patterson
Sandra Dowling

No one really expected Sandra Dowling to beat experienced legislator Debbie Lesko in the Republican primary for Congressional District 8. Nor did anyone know for sure why Dowling had bothered to run, other than to raise a few vague ideas about Social Security reform. She only raised $4,800 for the race. You get what you pay for. Dowling received less than 25 percent of the vote. Lesko will now face Hiral Tipernini, for the second time, in November.

David Gowan

Cowboy-hat wearing David Gowan of Sierra Vista got term-limited in the Legislature, then got in trouble for allegedly misusing state resources. He paid back $12,000 and was never charged criminally, so he decided to run for office again, this time for State Senate. Voters forgave and forgot: Gowan is ahead with 40.3 percent compared to John Drew's 34.5 percent.

Phillip Woolbright

Voters didn't believe Woolbright's claim of a giant conspiracy as the excuse for his terrible record as a former justice of the peace. The Arizona Supreme Court removed Woolbright from the bench as Arrowhead Justice of the Peace in 2012, banning him from holding a judgeship for five years. Woolbright had abused the justice system in dealing with problems with his ex-wife and acted incompetently on the bench, records show. This year, finally out from under the court's banishment period, Woolbright launched a campaign to get his job back, But voters rejected his conspiratorial explanations. He received 39.4 percent of the vote, and incumbent Craig Wismer will return to work as Justice of the Peace in the Arrowhead Justice Court.
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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.