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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended September 17, 2000
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News about Mormons, Mormonism,
and the LDS Church
Sent on Mormon-News: 13Sep00

Summarized by Kent Larsen

Flake Wins in AZ Primary; Keeps Seat in Mormon Delegation

PHOENIX, ARIZONA -- LDS Church member Jeff Flake won the Republican primary in Arizona's 1st district yesterday, virtually assuring that he will succeed fellow LDS Church member Matt Salmon in the US Congress. Salmon, who kept his pledge to serve only 3 terms, had endorsed Flake, possibly the most conservative of the five Republican candidates in the race.

With all but 1 of the 279 precincts reporting, Flake had received 14,048 votes, or 32% of all Republican votes cast. Hist nearest competitor, Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio, received 10,383 votes, or 23%.

Flake, who is descended from the Mormon pioneers who gave the Arizona town of Snowflake half its name, was handpicked by Salmon for the seat. An "ardent anti-abortion, free-market conservative who nurtured the charter school movement in Arizona," according to the Arizona Republic, Flake won in a district that is both very conservative and very Mormon.

This is Flake's first bid for public office, and he somehow managed to stay above the fray in spite of controversy striking very close to home. Another candidate, cable TV executive Susan Bitter-Smith, reportedly produced a file containing damaging information about real estate transactions in which Flake was involved. According to news reports she gave the file to fellow candidate Tom Liddy, son of convicted Watergate felon G. Gordon Liddy, who then accused Bitter-Smith of using the material for dirty campaign tricks. The fallout left Flake looking like the victim, in spite of the damaging information against him, which never actually came to light.

Flake also got into some trouble when it was reported that he held a $72,000 consulting job at a non-profit that was paid for by the co-chairman of his campaign committee. Because of the appearance that he was skirting campaign financing laws, Flake resigned the consulting job. Other reports criticized Flake because much of his funding came from member of the Club for Growth, a conservative and sometimes secretive group founded by a Wall Street financier.

In the general election, Flake faces Democrat David Mendoza, a former miner and long-time union lobbyist, and Libertarian Jon Burroughs. However, the Congressional Quarterly rates the district as safely Republican. No one expects Flake to encounter serious difficulty winning the seat in the general election.

The result will likely leave the US Congress with 16 Mormon members, down from 17 currently. The one-seat loss is due to the retirement of California congressman Ron Packard. In addition to Flake, the other new Mormon candidates for the US Congress is Derek Smith, who beat incumbent Republican Merrill Cook of Utah and who is expected to win. However, even if he loses, his opponent, Democrat Jim Matheson, is also Mormon. All other Mormon incumbents are expected to be re-elected.


Flake rises above fray; few surprises in state
(Phoenix) AZ Republic 13Sep00 T2
By Jon Kamman: The Arizona Republic


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