Republican write-in candidate qualifies for November ballot in Tucson’s LD 9

By:   | September 4, 2018

A Republican write-in candidate for the state Senate in Tucson’s Legislative District 9 pulled off an unlikely victory on election night, earning enough write-in votes to land himself on the November ballot.

The Pima County Board of Supervisors adopted the official canvass of the 2018 primary election on Tuesday, confirming that Randy Fleenor easily secured enough write-in votes to qualify for the general election ballot.

Candidates running as write-ins in the primary can secure a spot on the November ballot by receiving write-in votes in lieu of gathering signatures from voters.

To qualify for the November ballot, they must receive more signatures than competitors of the same party, or in cases where the party fielded no candidates, as happened in LD9, they must receive as many write-in votes as they would have needed signatures from qualified votes to run in the primary.

Since no Republicans qualified for the ballot in LD9 Senate race, Fleenor needed just 363 write-in votes to challenge Democrat Victoria Steele for the position in the November election. He received 698 write-in votes.

Fleenor said as a Republican, he didn’t want to see the Democrat win the office without a challenge. Fleenor, a business product manager at IBM and small business owner, ran for office primarily on a platform of solving Southern Arizona’s economic woes.

On the phone from London, where he was visiting on business, Fleenor cited statistics claiming Tucson is the fifth poorest economy in the U.S., and said the region has only experienced half the economic growth that the greater Phoenix area has since 2008.

“I have two kids who have had to leave the state to get jobs,” he said.

He said improving Arizona’s education system will be among his focuses if elected to serve at the state Capitol. But he lamented what he called wasteful spending in schools, saying schools need to show that they’re spending money in the classroom if they want his vote for more funding.

“I’m not going to raise taxes to promote inefficiency,” he said.

Fleenor will face off against Steele, a former state lawmaker who ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination to take on U.S. Rep. Martha McSally in 2016.

LD9 leans Democratic, but is one of the state’s most competitive districts, with about 31 percent registered Republicans and 37 percent Democrats. In 2012, voters there elected a Republican to one of the district’s two House seats, alongside Steele.

The district covers northern Tucson, including the Casas Adobes and Catalina Foothills neighborhoods, out to the Sabino Canyon area in the east, Speedway on the south and Interstate 10 on the west.

Contact reporter Hank Stephenson at hstephenson@tucson.com or 573-4279​. On Twitter: @hankdeanlight

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