Arizona Treasurer Claims Victory in Primary for Governor

(Reuters) -

Arizona state treasurer and businessman Doug Ducey claimed victory on Tuesday in the race to be the Republican nominee to replace outgoing Governor Jan Brewer, who has clashed repeatedly with the White House over illegal immigration.

With border security issues high on the political agenda, Ducey held a convincing lead of 37 percent in the six-way race after most of the ballots had been counted. His closest rival, ex-mayor Scott Smith, took some 22 percent of the vote.

“We set out on this primary battle promising to give this race the best effort we could,” Ducey told an enthusiastic crowd gathered at a downtown Phoenix hotel.

“Tonight our best effort has given us victory,” he said.

Smith, who had been backed by Brewer and was considered more moderate than Ducey, conceded the race hours after polls closed. Christine Jones, 46, a former internet hosting company executive, finished third.

The Arizona governor’s race was the highest profile battle among a series of state primary contests being held on Tuesday that also included votes in Florida, Vermont and Oklahoma.

Ducey will face Democrat Fred Duval, a former member of the state Board of Regents, in the Nov. 6 general election.

Other Battles

Another key Arizona race was a tight Republican contest to challenge incumbent Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick in a competitive U.S. Congressional race. That race remained too close to call.

Arizona Democrats also chose a successor to U.S. Representative Ed Pastor, who is retiring after 11 terms from a heavily Latino district where there is no Republican candidate and no strong third party candidate.

Former State lawmaker and military veteran Ruben Gallego took the seat over long-time county and city politician Mary Rose Wilcox, who conceded the race late on Tuesday.

In Florida, Charlie Crist won the Democratic nomination for governor, taking almost 75 percent of the vote. (see separate story)

In Vermont, Republican Scott Milne looked poised to face incumbent Democratic Governor Peter Shumlin in November.

In Oklahoma, Democratic State Senator Connie Johnson edged challenger Jim Rogers in a runoff election 58 percent to 42 percent.

Johnson will face U.S. Congressman James Lankford in a U.S. Senate contest to replace outgoing Senator Tom Coburn.