David Gowan, who was dogged by allegations that he used state vehicles to boost his failed congressional campaign, is leading Republican Rep. Drew John in the GOP primary for Senate in Legislative District 14.
With early ballots counted, Gowan, the former Speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives who ran for Congress in 2016, had nearly 44 percent of the vote to John’s nearly 29 percent. Lori Kilpatrick, a U.S. Army veteran, pulled nearly 28 percent of the vote.
Gowan raised $75,000 for his comeback campaign, though the vast majority of that was transferred from his previous campaign account. But he was outspent by John, who raised $83,000 for his campaign, and had massive help from outside groups.
Gowan, a Realtor, faced staunch opposition from Realtors, business interests and good governance groups like Greater Phoenix Leadership and Public Integrity Alliance, which launched Independent Expenditure campaigns against the former speaker, totaling roughly $28,000.
Those groups sent mailers in the district - which covers all of Cochise, Graham and Greenlee counties, and takes in Vail and the far eastern edge of Tucson - denouncing Gowan as a going on a spending spree with public money and noting he was investigated by the Arizona Attorney General’s Office after he wrongly collected more than $12,000 in personal travel reimbursements while traveling in a state car to multiple campaign events.
The mailers noted that during his time as speaker, Gowan spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on cosmetic renovations to the chamber, including building larger offices and buying new furniture for some of his allies, forcing half of his caucus to sign a letter stating they didn’t trust him with the House’s funds. Gowan eventually withdrew from his congressional bid amid the onslaught of criticism.
“This excessive spending occurred at the time when the state was facing a well known crisis,” that letter read.
And outside groups representing education, healthcare, contractors, truckers and other business interests came heavily to the support of John, spending more than $43,000 to support his campaign.
In return, Gowan falsely claimed John raised taxes by $13 billion, noted he was a lifelong Democrat before switching parties in 2016, and said John owes back taxes of nearly $55,000.
“We deserve better than someone who thinks they don't have to live by the same rules the rest of us do,” Gowan wrote in a mailer.
On the Democratic side, Senate candidate Jaime Alvarez beat out Mendy Gomez to secure a spot on the November ballot in this heavily Republican district, where 41 percent of voters are Republican and just 26 percent are Democrats. He will face off against Gowan in November.