Republicans in the state have a unanimous warning in the remaining weeks of this member vs. member contest -- it’s going to get even bloodier.
When redistricting drew freshman Rep. Ben Quayle’s home only blocks outside of the 6th District, his fellow freshman Dave Schweikert quickly announced he’d run in the 6th District, staking his claim. While it took weeks for Quayle to make it official, there was no doubt among anyone in DC or in Arizona that this clash was inevitable despite attempts to stave it off.
As the primary has intensified, the challenge for both congressmen has been to differentiate themselves from each other, since they disagree on few policy positions or key votes. Instead, this has become more of a battle of style -- as well as a subtle proxy war between the establishment and Tea Party wings of the GOP that has yet to fully materialize.
The former vice president’s son may have more of a famous profile by virtue of his last name, and has tapped into his father’s financial connections, but Schweikert has more local ties. A former state legislator and Maricopa County Treasurer, Schweikert had been running for office in this district for more than two decades, while Quayle only narrowly won his 2010 GOP primary even after his ties to a salacious website surfaced.
It’s no secret that Schweikert is the Club for Growth’s favorite candidate in the race. After Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s Young Guns PAC got involved in the member vs. member race between Rep. Don Manzullo and Rep. Adam Kinzinger earlier this year to back Kinzinger, the Club issued a warning shot -- if the establishment got in for Quayle, they wouldn’t hesitate to jump in full force for Schweikert. For now, both are sitting on the sidelines, but if one pulls the trigger, there will be a domino effect for several outside groups.
Quayle has sought to use the endorsements and national profile he’s built to his advantage in the race, and just this week debuted an ad featuring retiring Sen. Jon Kyl (R), talking directly to camera. "David’s been in politics almost as long as I have," Kyl quips -- a not-so-subtle dig at the 20 year age gap between the two men. "Ben Quayle is our future," says Kyl.
Outside groups are coming in now for Schweikert too, with a state-based super PAC, National Horizon, launching an ad hitting "Prince" Ben Quayle, brutally painting him as an entitled carpetbagger.
Quayle has piled up endorsements, from Kyl to John McCain and Condoleeza Rice, but that hasn’t seemed to faze Schweikert. In fact the endorsements only plays into the tea party vs. establishment narrative Schweikert prefers. Schweikert has gotten more local endorsements, including some more moderate leaders, which shows the ties he’s cultivated over the years.
"There’s not much difference at all when you come down to policy," said one GOP consultant. "If you look at them on paper, it really comes down to who you like personally."
Like other member vs. member races this year, turnout will win, and GOP sources agree across the board that Schweikert has the edge.
A National Research poll from Schweikert’s campaign this week confirmed that, showing him with a 49 percent to 33 percent lead over Quayle.
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