Money race: How candidates for Arizona Legislature in key Aug. 2 elections performed in fundraising

Money drives political campaigns, and it’s impossible to see where some of it comes from.

By Ray Stern | Arizona Republic

Excitement and anxiety over so-called “America First” candidates helped steer millions of dollars to support or oppose this year’s primary election campaigns for the Arizona Legislature.

In particular, some Republican candidates who haven’t held office before benefited greatly, money-wise, from a general dissatisfaction among constituents owing to division within the party. Many Republican voters and benefactors put money down against candidates they disparage as RINOs (Republicans in Name Only), while on the other hand, streams of cash filled up the coffers of candidates who opposed Trump loyalists and extremists.

Money flowed from political action committees of establishment-type groups — think firefighters, utilities, chambers of commerce — to incumbent lawmakers in tough primary battles either directly into campaigns and through outside spending. Experienced fundraisers tapped their long lists of contacts to generate five- or even six-figure incomes made up mostly of individual contributions. No legislative candidate does this better right now than Trump-endorsed Sen. Wendy Rogers, who just passed the $3 million in income mark for her race, although more than 80% of her contributions come from out of state.

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How to best spend the donations is the other side of the equation.

Money isn’t everything in a campaign. Candidates who outspend their opponents are by no means guaranteed victory. Either way, the question of who won the money race in this primary election sheds light on the powerful people and groups to which elected officials of the near future may give special attention.

With the Aug. 2. primary just days away, here’s a rundown of the campaign finances in the most-watched 2022 legislative districts this election season. The total figures for each race come from candidates’ last pre-primary campaign finance report, which was due on July 23, and from independent expenditure reports updated as of July 29, both of which are reported by the Secretary of State’s Office:

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