Maricopa County, Ariz. – The Phoenix-area primary race is heating up as Republican candidates head out for a shot at unseating Democrats as the GOP aims to take control of the House.
In many ways, the Republican primary for Arizona’s 4th District is representative of other races across the country. Inflation and the border crisis are key issues the GOP plans to highlight as part of a larger strategy for the midterm elections.
“I really feel it right now [voters are] Democrats are sick and tired of leading the country,” candidate Dave Giles told Fox News. “Enough is enough.”
Candidates are also somewhat microcosmic. There’s a woman who worked her way through high school and college and is Hispanic — a growing demographic in the Republican Party that the GOP plans to take advantage of.
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Another, a veteran and businessman, bills himself as a MAGA candidate. Former President Trump did not endorse anyone in the race, but his legacy has played a significant role in elections across the country. A third, Giles, criticized the government’s extremism during an interview with Fox News as he repeatedly brandished the Constitution in his pocket while sporting a pistol on his right hip and two magazines on his left.
And the race wouldn’t be complete without a daring stunt: Jeron Davison, the fourth, black candidate, drew national attention after he pointed an AR-15 at a man wearing a Ku Klux Klan garb in a campaign ad.
The winner will face a tough battle against incumbent Republican Greg Stanton. The former Phoenix mayor is running for a third term in Congress in a district that “leans Democrat” by two points, according to the Cook Political Report.
Davison and a fifth candidate, Rene Lopez, did not respond to interview requests.
Inflation, border crisis take center stage
All three candidates told Fox News in separate interviews that inflation is a major issue in the race.
“The biggest concern right now is the economy, the cost of gas, the cost of groceries, especially when you’re talking to young families and seniors on fixed incomes,” Tanya Contreras Wheeles told Fox News. “People are feeling it.”
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The candidate, who worked her way through high school and college before earning a law degree, said she grew up in a working-class family.
“Insecurity” about “how expensive things are now” and fear of a recession is “the first thing I hear,” Wheeless said after a meet-and-greet with potential voters.
Giles put it this way: “Right now, most people are concerned with inflation and the cost of raising prices. It’s probably the front burner for most people that they’re concerned about because it’s affecting their day-to-day lives.”
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Kelly Cooper, a candidate who owns several restaurants in the Phoenix area, echoed the sentiments of his rivals. He cited his business experience to explain why he was the best candidate to replace Stanton.
“I’m the only candidate who writes over a hundred pay checks every two weeks,” Cooper, a veteran, said before a campaign event at one of his restaurants. “I am the only candidate who has started a business from scratch and guided both through the financial crash of 2008, the banking crash and the recent covid collapse.”
Giles, an international businessman, has experience in various industries and positions as an adviser to the Saudi oil minister. Both he and Cooper suggested that the US adopt more emboldened policies Energy production to help the economy.
“Stop our war on fossil fuels,” Giles told Fox News. “Let’s make energy independent again.”
Additionally, as a border state, the immigration crisis is a key issue in Arizona races. Like inflation, all three candidates interviewed by Fox News cited illegal immigration — and what they say is a problem — as a major concern.
Both Giles and Cooper said tighter border security is needed and that the border wall must be completed.
“We can push hard to make sure we make more progress at the border, including completing the wall and taking an all-above-the-line approach to technology that we can track and stop or prevent, and both illegal migration and deterrence. Migration through ports of entry, Cooper said.
Giles told Fox News: “We have to enforce our laws on the border, get the border wall done.”
Meanwhile, Wheeles, a second-generation Mexican American, said constituents tell her they are “really concerned about fentanyl and drugs” coming across the border.
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A tight primary followed by a tough general
Candidates felt border crisis and Rising inflation will cause crowding of voters Behind Republicans to oust Stanton.
“People are starting to speak up,” Giles told Fox News. “Whoever wins this primary will displace Stanton.”
Cooper said: “Greg Stanton is a demonstration and a rubber stamp for everything [Biden] The administration has done it for the last 18 months.
Stanton’s campaign manager, Caitlin Johnson, issued a statement defending the Democrat.
“Congressman Greg Stanton has a record of delivering bipartisan results that spans nearly two decades — creating jobs, securing Arizona’s water and working to lower the cost of prescription drugs while refusing to take a dime of Big Pharma’s money,” Johnson wrote in a statement to Fox News. said email
Giles, meanwhile, said he has the best shot since he gained momentum and name recognition from his previous bids to unseat Stanton.
“People know me all over the district except for the new part in Mesa,” Giles told Fox News. He spoke at a local American Legion where he provides meals for veterans and meets them for motorcycle rides.
Although he lost in 2018, Giles has twice won the Republican primary in his district. But in the general election he lost to Ata-Sen by 20 points. Kristen Sinema in 2016 and Stanton in 2020 by the same margin, according to the Arizona Secretary of State.
But Cooper saw Giles’ history as a reason why voters should give someone else a shot at overturning the nomination.
“Dave Giles is a failed candidate,” Cooper told Fox News. “When you’re talking about someone who failed to get over the hump … it’s not a shot at that person.”
“I think that guy went up against Greg Stanton and he showed he wasn’t in a position to beat him,” added the veteran.
Cooper has drawn support from several groups that promote his conservative credentials, including the Gun Owners of America and the Arizona Police Association. Wheeless has also received the support of several local law enforcement groups as well as a super PAC associated with the Border Patrol union, House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
“The Republican primary features two candidates whose values are deeply at odds with the district: Kelly Cooper, who campaigned on Trump’s America First agenda—and Tanya Wheeless, who was a big bank lobbyist at the height of the subprime mortgage crisis. The behaviors and policies she championed drove thousands of Arizonans from their homes. kicked out,” Johnson, Stanton’s campaign manager, told Fox News in a statement.
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Cooper, however, considers his alliance a bonus.
“If I’m going to represent this district, I want to stand up and say that the needs of Arizona’s District Four come before everything else,” he told Fox News. “That’s what it means to me.”
Cooper added, “If you’re looking at MAGA as a negative thing, you probably have your priorities wrong.”
Wheeless relied on her humble upbringing to connect with voters.
“When I meet constituents … I want them to understand who I am, where I come from, what my background is, what makes me tick,” Wheeless told Fox News.
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After earning a law degree, Wheeless became a banking lobbyist and later an executive with the Phoenix Suns. She eventually left to start a consulting business before becoming an employee of Sen. Martha McSally.
“I’m asking for their vote because I want to go to Washington and make the country better for them and their families,” Wheeless said.
The Arizona primary is August 2.