Richard Carmona Fares Better Than President Obama, but Jeff Flake Will Be Senator

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Richard Carmona pulled in more votes in Arizona than President Barack Obama, but that still left the former U.S. Surgeon General more than 80,000 votes behind Republican Congressman Jeff Flake.

Flake will be replacing fellow Republican Jon Kyl in the Senate, as Kyl's retiring at the end of his term.

See also:
-Richard Carmona Concedes U.S. Senate Race to Congressman Jeff Flake
-Richard Carmona Trailing Jeff Flake, According to Early Results
-Democrat Rich Carmona Races Toward the U.S. Senate
-Richard Carmona Promises AZ Dems a U.S. Senate Seat

Considering the circumstances, Carmona did pretty well, even though he lost.

Just two years ago, Dems opted for Rodney Glassman as their Senate pick, and he was trounced by Senator John McCain, 35 percent to 59 percent, respectively.

Four years prior, Senator Jon Kyl took Dem Jim Pederson to task, 53-43 -- and that was before the existence of teabagging (the political kind).

This year, Flake and Carmona knew they were facing each other from the start. Self-funded Republican candidate Wil Cardon challenged Flake in the primary race, but that was more of a nuisance to Flake, who beat the tar out of Cardon. Carmona went unopposed in the primary.

Then the money started pouring in, as Flake and Carmona -- and their friends -- tried to describe how much of a scumbag the other candidate is via TV ads. The friendly ads ran for about a week before the election.

Flake pegged Carmona as just another Obama disciple, which was backed up by the claim that Carmona was recruited by Obama (a claim that's proven to be iffy).

However, Republicans also recruited Carmona in the past -- of course, asking him to run as a Republican -- as our colleague Monica Alonzo reported that now-Governor Jan Brewer, who was then a secretary of state, wanted him to run for governor.

Carmona also worked in the W. Bush administration, as he was appointed to the surgeon general's post by Bush. Carmona was also able to use the kind words of Senators Kyl and McCain -- albeit in a somewhat dishonest fashion -- to show that Republicans are on the record saying Carmona's the greatest thing since sliced bread.

When push came to shove, Carmona seemed pretty progressive. Although he claimed to not be a fan of "Obamacare," he supports the DREAM Act, appeared to be pro-choice, and opposes the plan of some Republicans to privatize Medicare and/or Social Security.

Alonzo quoted Carmona in his concession speech as saying that he "wanted to take our state in a more moderate and sensible direction" and was "tired of seeing Arizona focus on birther bills instead of education."

Obama calling quits on the state of Arizona a few days before Election Day probably didn't help Carmona yesterday in any way, although it may not have hurt, either.

Still, all of that may not explain Carmona's loss. Instead, it's totally plausible that Flake's responsible for his own win. Flake's well known around the state, and has a lengthy family history here (see: Snowflake). He had the full support of the guy he's replacing, as well as the support of Senator McCain. Flake has a fairly good reputation among those who aren't devoted lefties, and he hasn't caused himself any nationwide embarrassment, as so many members of Congress have done.

In the end, Flake's the clear winner. And if we were Carmona, we'd try to call Obama today and ask, "What the hell, man?"

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley