The latest campaign finance reports show Democratic legislative candidates Cheryl Cage and Representative Nancy Young Wright cleaning up in swing District 26.
Senate candidate Cheryl Cage raised roughly $38,000—or more than double what her Republican contender, state Sen. Al Melvin, pulled in for the same period.
“I think there’s going to be a Republican tsunami in November,” the Republican freshman says. “And I think they see it coming. I think they’re desperate… and they’re trying to throw a bunch of money at (the race).”
Cage attributes the burst of donations to her focus on education, a business approach to campaigning and Sen. Melvin’s record.“I think that people are understanding a little bit more than Mr. Melvin’s really extreme views,” she says. “And they realize that he’s not a good fit for this district.”
Voters donated more than $15,000 to Melvin during the reporting
Rep. Young Wright pulled in more money than any other Southern Arizona legislative candidate—a whopping $44,000 for this period, bringing her total to about $49,000 for the year.
She says deep government cuts have “alarmed people, and I think it has woken them up in a way they hadn’t been woken up before.”
Her Republican seatmate, Rep. Vic Williams, has about $31,000 in the bank, $16,000 of which came in this reporting period. Though he has a primary and she does not, Williams has spent less than one quarter what Young Wright has so far this year—$3,000 to her $13,000.
Young Wright was elected to the seat in 2008 as a Clean Elections candidate and decided to run a traditionally funded campaign this year because of legal challenges to matching funds that would leave her defenseless to Republican attacks in the final hours of the 2008 race.
“Clean Elections gives a relatively small amount of money in a competitive races like LD26,” she says.
Both Senate candidates ran Clean Elections campaigns for the seat in 2008 and each received $58,000 for their general election campaigns, though Cage was awarded $26,000 less than Melvin in the primary election because Melvin received a bundle of matching funds to contend with money that his GOP opponent and independent committees spent against him. Cage lost that race by fewer than 2,000 votes.
Cage says she will need to spend about $100,000 this year to oust incumbent Sen. Melvin.
“It makes me sick every time I think how much money that is and all the good things that could be done with that much money,” she says. “But again, this is an investment in Arizona’s future.”
Melvin expects to keep his seat by spending roughly $70,000, mostly on comparison advertisements highlighting her “secular socialist agenda” versus his “mainstream American free market agenda.”
“The teachers union and others spent about a quarter million dollars in this district to try to defeat me last time, and obviously it didn’t work,” he says. “So it isn’t just the money, it’s how you spend it.”