As a voter in Arizona congressional district 6 and legislative district 19, as a common-sense person and conservative, and as a politically-minded individual, I do my best every two years to thoroughly analyze and digest statements from the many, many candidates that I have a choice over which to vote. And don't get me wrong, there are LOTS of candidates. In some ways that is what makes the primary elections process more important to the understanding of the mindset of the common voter than anything else or in the general election. People are free to cast ballots for those who best support them, even if that candidate has little chance of making it to the November ballot.
In making my choices, I look for a few key factors: first, an incumbent's voting record. It's all well-and-good to talk a big game in front of a town hall meeting or on one's website, but if an incumbent has voted on key bills in a manner inconsistent with my values and wishes as a constituent, it might just be time for a change. Second, candidate stances on issues. Candidates make a lot of statements during the course of a campaign, and while it's nice to say that one is a "principled conservative," sometimes the facts in their past don't point to that. I try to read as much as possible about any given candidate and how they have responded to questions about their views on a variety of issues. Finally, face-to-face interaction, if possible. I like to get out to actual events and speak to the candidates directly. If I have major questions, I ask them, and if I don't, I try to get a feel for the person behind the yard sign. Some people are phony, and they come off that way in person, even if they look genuine on paper.
With all that being said, I feel qualified in my assessments of the candidates to endorse the following candidates for public office in the 2010 Republican primary election:
United States Senate: John McCain (John McCain for US Senate)
As I've made clear on here more than once, I cannot and will not support J.D. Hayworth for the Senate seat. He's disingenuous, both in his voting record and in his speeches, with who he claims to be - a "true" conservative with values. While it's also true I've never been gung ho for McCain in my lifetime, I feel that he is the better option for this race.
U.S. House of Representatives, AZ Congressional District 6: Jeff Smith (Jeff Smith for Congress)
This is a tough one for me personally, because I have friends in both campaigns, and I believe both candidates to be good and honorable people. Two years ago, I worked in conjunction with Congressman Flake's campaign and helped in getting him re-elected. That being said, I feel that Jeff Smith would bring a new outlook to Arizona's 6th district that has been lacking in the past couple years. A focus on bringing the problems of CD-6 to the halls of Congress, and of helping solve Arizona's big problems at the federal level. Jeff Flake has been reactionary over the past couple years; Jeff Smith wants to be more proactive. I support Smith in this endeavor.
Governor: Dean Martin (Vote Dean Martin) (Jan Brewer for Governor)
Yes, I know Martin has basically ended his campaign, and that Jan Brewer will be the Republican nominee for re-election. However, Martin's name remains on the ballot, and as such, I still endorse him for the top spot in Arizona. That said, I will still endorse and support Jan Brewer for Governor in the general election.
Secretary of State: Ken Bennett (Bennett Arizona)
I supported Ken Bennett as a State Senator, and I support him again in the Sec. of State's spot this year. A gifted mind, teacher, and legislator, Bennett is not only the logical choice for the GOP nomination, he's also the only one on the ballot.
Attorney General: Andrew Thomas (Thomas for Attorney General)
Despite controversy among both candidates, Tom Horne is the wrong guy for the Attorney General's job. Thus, I endorse and support Andrew Thomas.
State Treasurer: Thayer Verschoor (Verschoor - The AZ Treasurer)
I have only had the opportunity to speak to Verschoor a couple brief times at events, but he strikes me as the type of person who understands the job before him as State Treasurer. I am supporting him over his opponents, including the CEO of Cold Stone Creamery, because of that. In talking with his Republican opponents, many of them seem like they think the Treasurer's job will be easy - or they are just trying to seem too confident that they'll handle the position well. Verschoor seems to know what the role is and how much work needs to go into fixing our state's budgetary problems. He therefore has my endorsement.
Superintendent of Public Instruction: John Huppenthal (John Huppenthal 2010)
The one race I haven't been able to meet the candidates at some point in the past, I still choose John Huppenthal for the position. I support his announced positions for performance pay for teachers, and for his expansion of charter school enrollment in Arizona. I also appreciate his track record in the Arizona State Senate, within which he has been a member for the last six years.
State Mine Inspector: Joe Hart (Hart for Mine Inspector)
Mr. Hart is currently the only Republican on the ballot, and has been for the last couple election cycles. That should by no means take away from the fact that he has done a good job in the position for years now, and deserves reelection.
Corporation Commissioner (vote for two): Brenda Burns and Gary Pierce (Burns for CC, Pierce for CC)
Of the three on the ballot, Burns and Pierce are by far highly qualified for the positions on the Commission this year. Burns has a great track record with keeping taxes responsibly low, and Pierce has done a very good job in my book as one of the current commissioners with solving problems relating to utilities management.
LD-19 State Senator: Rich Crandall (Rich Crandall)
I supported Crandall even before James Molina dropped out of the race, and I continue to do so now.
LD-19 State Representatives (vote for two): Kirk Adams and Justin Olson (Elect Kirk Adams, Vote Justin Olson)
Again, I helped in Kirk Adams' race in 2008 at the same time I was helping Jeff Flake, and I feel that he remains a good leader for the House of Representatives. I would like to see more effort this year put into balancing the Arizona budget, and Kirk Adams is the type of principled conservative person who is most likely to affect that change. Justin Olson, a newcomer to the races this year, is the former research analyst for the Arizona Tax Research Association and would represent my interests well in the State House.
By no means is this "guide" meant to be anything more than that - a guide. My picks are based on my personal interactions with the candidates and my research into their voting records and their comments on various issues. I encourage everyone to do their own research and find out what candidate is right or wrong for YOUR interests in each office. Please take the time to examine the campaign websites for the candidates I have chosen above, and for all the others who are running.