Democrat Rebecca Schneider appeared to be trouncing opponent Chris Gramazio in the 6th Congressional District Democratic primary Tuesday night.
With most of the precincts reporting by late Tuesday, Schneider was outpolling Gramazio by about 3-to-1, according to unofficial vote totals. The eventual winner will advance to November's general election to challenge Republican incumbent Rep. Jeff Flake. Flake and Libertarian Chris Biondi ran unopposed in their primaries.
The Republican appears entrenched in his district, a conservative slice of the East Valley that takes in parts of Mesa and Chandler, plus all of Gilbert, Queen Creek and Apache Junction.
The Democrats didn't even bother to oppose Flake in 2004 and 2002.
However, Gramazio and Schneider both said they felt voters have grown weary of Republican leadership.
Gramazio, an account manager at a trucking firm, campaigned on his pledge to revitalize the middle class. He outlined plans for new Franklin D. Roosevelt-style legislation to revitalize infrastructure and transportation systems nationwide.
Gramazio said the move would provide construction jobs and rebuild crumbling roads and bridges. The concept stood in stark contrast to Flake's signature anti-pork policies and free-market ideologies.
Schneider, a supervisor at Hayden Library at Arizona State University, said she decided to run for Congress largely to defend what she said were crumbling constitutional rights.
Liberties have fallen under the USA Patriot Act and several other laws associated with the fight against terrorism, many of which Flake supported, Schneider said.
"We've lost the right to privacy," she said during the campaign. "We've lost the right to habeas corpus. We've lost the right to free speech. We've lost the right to assemble. We can be arrested and detained for pretty much any reason these days," she said.
Biondi, an insurance agent who served in the Army from 1989 through 1992, campaigned on the platform that American interests need to be protected abroad, while the size and reach of the U.S. government need to be kept in check.
He said that on the domestic front, market forces must be allowed to shape the economy.