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Wed, April 08

Blewster holds narrow lead over Mason

Incumbent Republican Linda Binder of Lake Havasu City may not have to give up her Senate seat after the final votes are tallied for the Sept. 12 primary.

According to early unofficial returns, Binder was ahead of the pack in the District 1 Republican race, leading Barbara Blewster of Dewey, Lucy Mason of Prescott and Caleb Soptelean of Yarnell.

But who will share the Republican spotlight with Binder remains anyone's guess. Early Wednesday, Mason and Blewster were separated by six votes with Blewster nosing ahead to what could be her second term in the House.

In Yavapai County, however, voters placed Binder behind Mason by slightly 1 percent. Binder scored 29.9 percent of the ballots compared with Mason's 31 percent. Blewster fell into third with 26 percent with Soptelean limping in with 13 percent.

Two Republican candidates will ultimately have a face off with Democrat Henry Camarot of Prescott in November for one of two seats in District 1.

In District 2 competition, Flagstaff Democrats Jim Sedillo and Josh Allen anchored their spots in the race for two seats in the House of Representatives. Sedillo, a retired Coconino County justice of the peace, campaigned touting his civic accomplishments, integrity and responsiveness to community issues.

Allen, chief budget officer for Northern Arizona University, placed his platform on fiduciary responsibility and knowledge of rural issues.

Candidate Bill Cherry of Flagstaff retired to third place behind Allen and Sedillo with nearly 25 percent of total votes cast while Matt Capalby of Kingman retreated to last with only slightly more than 17 percent.

Yavapai County voters, however, were obviously torn between Allen and Cherry with both men tying with 29 percent of the vote while Sedillo placed third with 26 percent and Capalby retained his fourth place finish at 14 percent.

Although results are unofficial, it appears that Sedillo and Allen will challenge Republicans Tom O'Halleran of Sedona for the two seats in the general election in November. O'Halleran managed to snag 59 percent of Yavapai voter's support and a whopping 53.8 percent cumulative for all counties. Margaret Roush-Meier of Flagstaff garnered 41 percent in Yavapai County and a respectable 46.2 percent overall.

In the District 2 Senate race it appears that Flagstaff Republican John Verkamp will remain in the legislature following a four-term run in the House of Representatives. Verkamp beat his rival Joe Hart of Kingman a healthy 59.7 percent to 40.3 percent. In Yavapai County, Verkamp's win was even more impressive with voters showing support 71 percent to 29 percent. Verkamp will face Flagstaff Democrat Rita Johnson in the November primary and if successful will succeed longtime lawmaker John Wettaw as a District 2 senator. If Verkamp fails, some lawmakers worry the slight 16-14 Republican lead in the Senate could dwindle to an even tie between parties.

Republican Candidate Dick Hensley was easily defeated in the District 3 congressional primary by longtime front runner and incumbent Rep. Bob Stump. Hensley managed 17.2 percent of the vote with six counties reporting while Stump showed off an 82.8 percent victory. Yavapai County voters agreed, Hensley secured only 16 percent of the ballots cast while Stump gained 84 percent.

Finally, Democrat Barbara Lubin set herself beside Sandra Kennedy to face Republicans Bill Mundell and Sen. Marc Spitzer for two seats on the Arizona Corporation Commission.

Lubin nabbed nearly twice the amount of voters than Herschella Horton in Yavapai County, scoring 67 percent to Horton's 33 percent. Lubin beat Rep. Horton of Tucson for a shot at being a part of the three member commission which sets most utility rates in the state, regulates Arizona's securities industries as well as its railroads and pipelines.

As two of the three member seats are up for grabs, the Corporation Commission's leadership will be confronted with Arizona's unique water and energy challenges.

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