Former legislator Stan Barnes knows an incumbent has never been beaten in an Arizona congressional race, but he is nonetheless excited.
The well-known Mesa Republican who served six years in the Legislature, is hoping to make history in the primary race for the 6th Congressional District by officially kicking off his campaign against conservative Republican incumbent Jeff Flake.
It’s a battle Barnes has fought before. He ran for Congress in 1992, nearly defeating then Rep. Jay Rhodes, R-Ariz., in the Republican primary.
"It feels like I’ve bitten into a very big apple," Barnes said at his official kickoff party Saturday afternoon. "I’m confident about our campaign, but it’s going to be an uphill battle. It’s all part of the excitement, a challenge that’s never been achieved."
About 80 friends, family and curious voters turned out for the event at Mesa’s Falcon Field Airport Park despite a chilly wind and the threat of rain.
State House Majority Leader Eddie Farnsworth, RGilbert, finally made up his mind to endorse Barnes, a childhood friend, only an hour before the event.
"Jeff Flake is also a friend of mine. It was a tough call to make," Farnsworth said. "Stan has long roots in the East Valley, and he is going to take those roots and stretch them all the way to D.C."
"Big Ben" was a disc jockey at a local radio station while Barnes had a radio show on KFYI.
"He means what he says and says what he means," said "Big Ben," who came to support Barnes. "He tells it like it is. You may not like it, but you can respect it."
Barnes, fully recovered from a kidney transplant in November, spent his childhood in Chandler and on a cotton farm in Queen Creek.