Republican primary voters on Tucson’s northwest side, far east and Rita Ranch area are embracing the party’s MAGA wing, according to preliminary results from state Senate District 17.
With nearly every precinct flagged Wednesday at noon, Justine Wadsack, who describes herself as a “Pro Trump America First” conservative, was poised to defeat Vince Leach, a state senator seeking a third term, by an unofficial margin of about 1,200 votes.
Wadsack, a real estate agent, received 40% of the 25,605 votes cast. Leach received 35.5%, according to the state election website. A third candidate, Robert Barr, obtained 24% of the votes. The results are not yet official.
Leach, 73, is the current state senator from District 11 and serves as the president pro tempore of the senate, the second highest executive position. He is also vice-chairman of the credit committee and the finance committee.
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Wadsack, 48, opposes abortion rights, teaching critical race theory and mask requirements to prevent the spread of COVID-19. She participated in the storming of a Vail school board meeting last year to protest mask requirements. His endorsements included the Arizona Tea Party; Purple for Parents, an online group formed in opposition to the Red for Ed movement; and a group called Tucson Trump MAGA.
She appeared in campaign ads with Kari Lake, the Trump-backed governor’s choice.
Wadsack did not respond to a text message seeking comment on the results. Leach did not respond to a voicemail message left at the phone number listed on his election website.
Wadsack will face Democrat Mike Nickerson, 72, of Tucson, a retired pastor, in November. The vast district stretches from southern Pinal County to southeast Tucson.
Democrats pick climate activist
An environmental law professor will carry the Democrats’ banner this fall in Senate District 18, which includes the Catalina foothills, Casas Adobes and a strip of Tucson north of Broadway, east of Country Club Road and west of Camino Seco.
Priya Sundareshan, 37, who teaches at the University of Arizona, won the nomination with 53% support, compared with 47% for challenger Morgan Abraham, 30, an affordable housing developer and reserve intelligence officer of the Army. Nearly 27,000 ballots were cast in the primary race.
Although the results are not yet official, Abraham conceded to Sundareshan in a phone call the morning after the election. Abraham has been a member of the Arizona House of Representatives since December, when he was nominated to fill a vacancy in the District 10 House seat.
Sundareshan’s main issues include climate change, dwindling state water supply, and increased public investment in green energy sources such as solar and wind power. She supports “common sense” laws on gun safety, access to abortion, and measures to make it easier to vote, such as restoring and improving the permanent list of early voters. She holds a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and two degrees from the University of Arizona, a juris doctor and a master’s degree in natural resource economics.
In a post on Twitter, Sundareshan said his win “proves Southern AZ is ready for a climate change champion to represent them in the state.”
His candidacy was endorsed by several prominent local Democrats, including Tucson Mayor Regina Romero, U.S. Representative Raul Grijalva, and his daughter Adelita Grijalva, Pima County Supervisor and Chair of the Tucson Unified School District Board of Trustees. .
Sundareshan will run in November against Republican Stan Caine, 59, a retired US Department of Defense employee.
Contact reporter Carol Ann Alaimo at 573-4138 or [email protected]. On Twitter: @AZStarConsumer