In the end, the primary to succeed Rep. Jeff Flake (R) may have been the race that really wasn’t much of one.
While initially a competitive primary field had whittled down to former Rep. Matt Salmon (R) and former House Speaker Kirk Adams (R), virtually no one in Arizona even expects this race to be close. Salmon is
heavily favored to win the August primary easily.
Salmon started out with a built-in name ID advantage that was already near-impossible for Kirk to overcome, according to several GOP sources. Salmon had held true to his three term-pledge and stepped aside in 2000 (Flake succeeded him), and two years later he narrowly lost the gubernatorial race to Democrat Janet Napolitano.
Still, Salmon remained well-known and incredibly well-liked in the district -- but also well-liked among conservative groups. When he announced he was running again for the open seat, the Club for Growth quickly got behind him.
That translated into quick cash for Salmon, and the former congressman built an early advantage Adams could never overcome. Salmon ended June with $336,000 in the bank, while Adams had just $162,000.
Adams comes across as more of a pragmatic conservative, and in an interview with the Report in April, noted how he had worked across the aisle. Still, he was no squish, and he led a rebellion to overthrow the speaker during his tenure.
But Adams’ willingness to compromise has not translated into primary support or money. Republicans say Adams wasn’t aggressive enough initially and let Salmon pad his early, expansive lead. In the past week, Adams tried to argue Salmon’s firm had lobbied for the health care bill, but those charges fell flat.
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