A blockbuster primary in Florida and three-way fight in Arizona

Arizona voters head to polls as state mourns McCain

Arizona voters head to polls as state mourns McCain

Rep. Martha McSally held a lead as the first votes were counted Tuesday night in Arizona's GOP Senate primary, in the battle to succeed retiring Sen. In Arizona, candidates are vying for Sen.

The contest has been overshadowed in recent days by the death of John McCain, Arizona's longtime Republican senator, on Saturday.

McSally, who was poised early on to be the party's nominee, aligned herself with President Donald Trump from the start of her campaign, despite calling him "disgusting" two years ago after a tape of Trump allegedly admitting to sexual assault surfaced. The seat is considered a key pickup for Democrats in their bid to take control of the chamber, meaning the general election will be among the closest-watched Senate races in the nation between now and November. And in Oklahoma's runoff elections, Republicans will select their gubernatorial nominee. With a consistently conservative voting record, Arizonans elected McCain to the Senate six times, including in 2016. Trump appears to have tilted the Republican race toward Rep. Ron DeSantis, whom he endorsed late past year. She's expected to emerge from the three-way race, but it hasn't been pretty.

Sinema's and McSally's Senate runs also have created House openings in Arizona, a fast-growing and increasingly diverse state where Democrats are eager to gain a foothold.

In the end, Ward split the Trumpian vote with former Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio, and McSally sailed to victory with an enormous fundraising advantage. Democrat David Garcia, an Arizona State University professor, is focusing on his experience in the area, but he faces tough challengers from State Sen.

Arpaio gained notoriety for his crackdowns on illegal immigration, which his agency continued in defiance of a court order that they amounted to racial profiling.

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For months Arizona voters have seen Sinema's ads touting her "record of independence", said Chuck Coughlin, a veteran Republican strategist in the state, and that will make it harder for McSally to make the case that she is "too liberal" for Arizona.

Trump yesterday reiterated his support for DeSantis in a tweet.

McCain's seat will be filled by Republican Gov. Doug Ducey in an appointment made after the senator's funeral; there will then be a special election on the 2020 ballot to fill the remainder of McCain's term. In Florida, the Senate contest is already set, but both parties will select their nominees for governor in what is expected to be a competitive race in November.

Democrats see several Republican-held districts in South Florida as prime opportunities to pick up seats.

But, he added, "her record doesn't speak to her being a moderate Democrat and we can expect to hear a lot more about who is the real Kyrsten Sinema and what does she stand for".

Democrats are hoping the GOP electorate's rightward march and embrace of outsiders result in a runoff win for Tulsa mortgage company owner Kevin Stitt over former Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett. Stitt has attacked Cornett as not being supportive enough of Trump or his immigration policies, while the former mayor has cast Stitt as a newcomer to Republican politics. Should Republicans win here in November, it leaves Democrats with few options to win the seats they need.

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