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Swing state Arizona is getting a lot of attention on Primary Day

ASMA KHALID, HOST:

Which political party controls Congress in November hangs in the balance, which is why state primaries are being so closely watched to see which way voters are leaning.

A MARTINEZ, HOST:

Today, five states are holding primaries, and in the swing state of Arizona, voters will cast ballots in several key races.

KHALID: Ben Giles from member station KJZZ has the details. Good morning, Ben.

BEN GILES, BYLINE: Good morning.

KHALID: So let's begin by just looking out, as you survey the Arizona primaries, what has stood out to you about these races?

GILES: It's so many open races for our top statewide positions here in Arizona - the governor, the attorney general, the secretary of state. There's no incumbents in this toss-up state. Former President Trump has also, of course, played a big role here, as he has in other states. He's endorsed a slate of candidates who deny the results of the 2020 election. That includes candidates for governor and candidates for secretary of state. That's the position that oversees voting here in Arizona. And just to give you an idea of how many election-denying candidates we're talking about, there's at least one candidate for secretary of state who flat out said they would have broken the law and refused to certify the 2020 election had they been in office. And that isn't even the candidate that Trump endorsed. So it's an interesting field. And Trump has also made notable endorsements elsewhere, including in the U.S. Senate race.

KHALID: So let's talk a little bit more about that Senate contest.

GILES: Right. There are several Republicans vying to take on Democratic Senator Mark Kelly. He's well known here. He's raised a ton of money. According to OpenSecrets, this is already nearly a $74 million race, and that's just so far. This seat is a top target for Republicans nationally. It was a big deal in 2020 when Kelly won because that meant that Arizona Senate seats were both held by Democrats.

KHALID: Yes.

GILES: But it's also been viewed as kind of a rebound state for Republicans ever since that 2020 vote because this is a historically red state, and the GOP has historic turnout advantages in the midterms. So Trump has backed Blake Masters. He's a former venture capitalist. Blake is also backed by his former boss. That's conservative powerbroker Peter Thiel. And that comes with a lot of money and yet another expensive race. Masters is up against a bunch of candidates who also sought the Trump endorsement, like businessman Jim Lehman and the current Arizona attorney general, Mark Brnovich.

KHALID: You know, Ben, I've also been hearing quite a bit nationally there about the governor's race in the state of Arizona. What are you hearing there? And what are you keeping an eye on?

GILES: So that's another open primary. Governor Doug Ducey here is term limited. He's endorsed Karrin Taylor Robson, who's got the support of more establishment figures in the state and nationally. That includes an endorsement from former Vice President Mike Pence. She's a wealthy candidate. She spent millions and millions of dollars to boost her name ID here, but she's still been trailing in most polls to Kari Lake, who's backed by Trump and is another one of those candidates who's aggressively pushed the lie that the 2020 election was stolen. Lake has even baselessly started to claim that she's seen signs of fraud in this current election, just like Trump did before 2016 and 2020. The winner will likely face Katie Hobbs. That's the current Democratic secretary of state.

KHALID: That's KJZZ's Ben Giles. Really appreciate it, thank you for taking the time.

GILES: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Asma Khalid is a White House correspondent for NPR. She also co-hosts The NPR Politics Podcast.
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