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
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