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Abraham Hamadeh, Blake Masters, Ben Toma, possible GOP nominees for US House of Representatives, District 8. (Photos: Gage Skidmore)

CD8 Race Attracts National Attention

Daily Mail story keys in on Trump vs Vance Endorsements

By Ken Kurson, May 15, 2024 10:34 am

The primary election for the Republican nomination in Arizona CD8 has become that rare small race that captures a much wider audience than the 425,000-ish voters who’ll cast ballots this year in that district.

That’s why Arizona Globe covers it all the time. But if you need further proof that the race has taken on status as a proxy for national trends, look to the Daily Mail.

The British newspaper ran a story this morning detailing how Ohio senator JD Vance has supported his old pal Blake Masters in that race, while President Trump is supporting Abe Hamadeh.

The Daily Mail spells out the dynamics of the race:

A top potential VP pick for President Trump finds himself on the opposite side of Trump’s hand-picked candidate in the race. 

Only a few short months ago, Sen. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, vowed not to help anyone actively working against Trump’s endorsed candidates. 

‘I have a long memory. If you’re fighting against Trump and his endorsed candidates politically today, don’t ask for my help in a year with your legislation or pet projects,’ he wrote on X on But Vance has done just that. 

Last October, Vance became the only Senate candidate to endorse Blake Masters in his House race. Trump, meanwhile, threw his weight behind Abe Hamedeh two months later in December. 

That pretty much nails it. But why is a London based tabloid best known for amazing photographs of celebrities looking amazing even interested in a Republican Congressional primary in the suburbs north and west of Phoenix?

Basically, for the same reason the Arizona Globe is interested. What makes this race fascinating is that Hamadeh is the chosen candidate of Team Trump. He earned the former President’s endorsement, and even was the rare non-incumbent Republican in a competitive primary who got the Mar-a-Lago treatment.

And it’s also interesting because both Masters and Hamadeh ran statewide in 2022, as did Kari Lake, who will be this year’s Republican nominee for US Senate. Of those three statewide Republican candidates, Masters struggled the most, losing to incumbent Mark Kelly by over 125,000 votes, 51.39% to 46.51%. By comparison, Kari Lake lost her governor’s race to Katie Hobbs by just 17,000 votes, 50.3 vs 49.7. And Hamadeh came closest of all, losing to Kris Mayes by fewer than 300 votes in a 49.94% to 49.93% virtual tie. (Both Lake and Hamadeh continue to dispute the results from 2022 in court.)

Those performances probably contributed to Trump‘s decision to discourage Masters from seeking the US Senate nomination again this year – Kari Lake has his full support in a race that’s already knocked out Kyrsten Sinema and will pit Lake head to head against Congressman Ruben Gallego.

Masters is treading lightly around the Trump endorsement for Hamadeh. He prominently features photos of President Trump on his own website and the fact that Vance has evolved from Trump basher to Trump Backer over the last couple years perhaps increases the value of an out-of-state Senator’s endorsement.

Meanwhile, it’s not even perfectly clear that it’s a two-man race. House speaker Ben Toma is in the hunt and raising money at a respectable clip, while several other candidates, including state senator Anthony Kern, and former congressman Trent Franks are also vying for the nomination.

Whenever a reliable seat opens up for either party, there is of course aggressive interest. But somehow this one has emerged to capture the party’s attention as a sort of referendum on the future. You’ve got two young candidates, and the winner will automatically be discussed as someone the party will keep an eye on.

In fact, youth has become an issue in the race. Blake Masters has created a video of his attractive young family that casts doubt on Hamadeh’s fitness for office based on the bizarre theory that Hamadeh not having kids makes him suspect. I doubt there’s a single credible pollster who can find Republican primary voters who list “how many kids a candidate has” in the top 20 of any issue matrix. But clearly what masters is hoping to accomplish—and spending plenty of his considerable personal wealth to drive the message—is to cast his rival, with his unusual last name, as somehow “not one of us.”

Hamadeh, on the other hand, has a pretty good biographical answer just by sharing pictures of himself in the uniform he wore as a U.S. Army Reserve Captain, as if to say yeah I haven’t gotten around to children just yet because I was busy kicking ass in Syria.

This is anybody’s race right now. But if one of those two candidates emerges victorious, it will really say something about the future of the party, including Trump’s value as an endorser, not to mention how just how annoyed he’ll be that someone who values his support like Vance is backing an opponent of the guy Trump endorsed.

On the other hand, if Toma or one of the other candidates emerges, it will draw attention to the circular firing squad scenario where Masters and Toma taking shots at each other does enough damage that yet another candidate sneaks across the finish line.

And that’s why we find politics so damn interesting. Not just in Arizona, but apparently in London as well.

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Ken Kurson
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