Opinion: Here are some award winners in Arizona’s GOP primary race

Whether the numbers look good or bad, political pollsters always remind their candidate clients: “Look, this survey is a snapshot in time, confined to those few days when we were in the field. It tells us about trends…it does not completely forecast the final outcome.”

Of course, campaigns do not survive on numbers alone.

The “Trail to Election Day’ is filled with twists and turns as well as unacknowledged strengths, unspoken perceptions and untold stories.

This column features a selected compilation of the above, assessing the campaigns, candidates, and prominent endorsers heading into the Arizona Republican Primary Election on Tuesday.

In the Republican race for Governor, the “Gee, it’s late…I must be going” Award goes to former Congressman and now former gubernatorial candidate Matt Salmon.

Matt called it quits a week before early ballots were mailed out, with his name still on them. While he was quick to endorse Karrin Taylor Robson, that won’t prevent votes from showing up in the Salmon column. Matt called his supporters “the best in Arizona.” Are they the “best informed?” We’ll see.

The “Best Venue for a Presidential Proxy Preview” goes to the Grand Canyon State. Former President Trump has endorsed primary candidates up and down the slate, including former Channel 10 news anchor Kari Lake for governor.

Ex-Vice President Mike Pence has pointedly endorsed Robson. The “Atlantic,” a legacy media outlet which usually spews venom toward Republicans, actually manages a word of backhanded praise for Pence, saying he wants to “preserve an ounce of sanity in [his] party.” But for Robson, the “Atlantic” does no favors, describing her as a “caricature of the establishment Republican.”

Gov. Doug Ducey gets the “I wanna be ‘Number 2,’ so I’m trying harder” Award. After the Governor’s statement, “We do elections right in Arizona,” uttered in 2020, then Doug’s rush to certify a Biden win, sending a call from President Trump to voicemail as he signed certification documents before the cameras, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) sensed a kindred spirit in Ducey.

The Senate GOP Leader proffered all sorts of swamp blandishments to Doug—guaranteed K-Street contributions, a national network for fundraising and the considerable support that only the party’s Senate leader can provide, but Ducey said, “No.”

The Guv’s refusal was not based on principle, but personal priorities.

Knowing he would face a very difficult fight for the nomination, Doug thinks there’s another route to the “World’s Most Exclusive Club.” Why go as one of the 100, seated in the far rear of the chamber as a newcomer? Why not figure out a way into the Senate as its President…and Vice President of the United States?

It’s a long shot, but Ducey thinks that his veep ticket will be punched by Mike Pence if the former vice president can somehow beat the odds in the 2024 Sweepstakes for the White House. In fact, Ducey stands a better chance of being Pence’s running mate than Pence does of becoming President.

The “How to become Number 2 without really trying” Award goes to Kari Lake. After all, the 45th President stands a much better chance than Mike Pence to return as the 47th President. Already, Trump confidants are talking up Kari Lake’s chances to become Trump’s running mate if she becomes governor.

Finally, no primary analysis would be complete without the “East Valley Intrigue” Award…and the choice for 2022 is the inaccurately named “Mesa Conservative Fund.”

Jeff Flake may now be a world away from the U.S. Senate, and installed in a much more appropriate job as Joe Biden’s ambassador to Turkey (Kinda prompts a chuckle, doesn’t it?), but Jeff’s “Hey, look at me” narcissism has found a natural heir in Rusty Bowers. The term-limited Arizona House Speaker hopes to now serve in the state Senate.

The problem comes in the form of Trump-endorsed David Farnsworth, widely considered a genuine, grassroots conservative. Meantime, Rusty didn’t exactly burnish his conservative credentials when he went to Washington as a “star witness” for Liz Cheney and the “J-6 Committee.”

So, the remnants of the Flake Cabal quickly put together this so-called “conservative fund” to prop up the Bowers candidacy by mischaracterizing Farnsworth’s record.

Will it work? We’ll find out when the polls close and the votes are counted.

And whatever the outcome, it’s just a prelude to the General Election in November.