With Republicans holding razor-thin margins in both legislative chambers and Democrats looking to take the majority for the first time in generations, Gov. Doug Ducey has nearly $2 million to help ensure that his party keeps control of the legislature.
Arizonans for Strong Leadership, a political action committee controlled by the governor, raised more than $1.2 million last quarter. It has banked $1.9 million of the nearly $2.2 million it’s raised for the 2020 election cycle.
Several people made six-figure contributions to Arizonans for Strong Leadership, with the biggest check coming from GoDaddy founder Bob Parsons, who gave a half-million dollars to the committee in early March. Michael Ahern, the managing partner at Phoenix-based venture capital firm True North Venture Partners, gave $150,000. Stewart Horejsi of Salinas, Kan., Tom Regina of Tucson, and Richard Stephenson of Barrington, Ill., each contributed $100,000.
Ducey has in the past used Arizonans for Strong Leadership as an independent expenditure committee that engages in campaign activity on behalf of legislative candidates it supports.
In 2016, the first legislative midterm after Ducey’s election as governor, Arizonans for Strong Leadership spent about $460,000 aiding Republicans in a handful of key legislative races. Ducey put the committee’s activities on hold in 2018 while he campaigned for a second term as governor.
Republicans currently hold majorities of 17-13 in the Senate and 31-29 in the House of Representatives, meaning Democrats need a net gain of three Senate seats and two House seats to win control of the legislature.
A spokeswoman for Arizonans for Strong Leadership did not respond to a message from Arizona Mirror, so it’s unknown exactly which legislative races the committee will focus on this year. But the Democrats’ top targets, and the list of Democrat-held seats the GOP hopes to win back, are well known.
Perhaps the Democrats’ top target is again the Legislative District 28 Senate seat. Democrat Christine Marsh, a former Arizona teacher of the year, is again looking to unseat Sen. Kate Brophy McGee, a moderate Phoenix Republican who bested Marsh by a mere 267 votes in 2018.
Democrats are looking to pick up both House and Senate seats in Legislative District 6, which covers parts of Apache, Coconino, Gila and Navajo counties. They’re eying seats in Phoenix- and Glendale-based Legislative District 20, currently represented by Republican Reps. Shawnna Bolick and Anthony Kern and Sen. Paul Boyer. And former Democratic Sen. Barbara McGuire is running for her old seat in Pinal County-based Legislative District 8, where she’ll face Republican Rep. T.J. Shope.
Meanwhile, Republicans are hoping to win back some seats they’ve lost to the Democrats in recent cycles. Democrats currently hold both House seats in District 28, have flipped all three seats in Legislative District 18, which covers Ahwatukee and parts of Chandler and Tempe, and in 2018 snagged a surprise seat in the Chandler-based Legislative District 17.