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Roy Moore's Defeat Raises Stakes For Arizona Senate Race

The election of Alabama Democrat Doug Jones to the U.S Senate could bring even more attention and money to Arizona’s 2018 race to replace Republican Senator Jeff Flake.

With Judge Roy Moore’s defeat, Senate Republicans’ lead over Democrats narrows to 51-49. Flake’s seat — alongside Nevada and Tennessee — is seen as the most vulnerable to flipping blue next year. Former state senator Dr. Kelli Ward is the most prominent Republican to officially enter Arizona’s race so far.

Ward had endorsedRoy Moore and has the support of Steve Bannon as Moore did in Alabama.  

Republican strategist Chuck Coughlin, who is president of High Ground Inc., said Moore’s loss could create an opening for another candidate to secure President Donald Trump’s endorsement.

“It can maybe navigate the White House into a position of getting a more acceptable general election candidate that is capable of receiving the President’s support and win a Republican primary,” Coughlin said.

Congresswoman Martha McSally told Republicans she intends to run, but has not officially declared. The winner of the Republican primary is expected to face Democratic Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema.

Immigration, national security and trade remain the key issues for Arizona’s Republican electorate, Coughlin said. Arizona hasn’t elected a Democrat to the Senate since Dennis DeConcini in 1976.

Coughlin said 75 percent of Republican voters in the state still support Trump, but he cautioned any candidate for Flake’s seat needs to appeal to more than that portion of the electorate.

“You cannot lose 25 percent of the Republican Party and then 90 percent of the Democrats and Independents and expect to be a winning coalition for a general election,” he said.

A spokesperson for the Ward campaign released a statement saying, “It's clear from the results last night that Alabama voters made their choice and ultimately could not get over the concerning allegations against Judge Moore. But make no mistake, Jones is going to be a terrible vote in the Senate. We know that he will side with Schumer and Pelosi and obstruct the President at every turn.”

Will Stone grew up with the sounds of public radio. As a senior field correspondent, he strives to tell the same kind of powerful stories that got him into the business — whether that means trudging through some distant corner of the Sonoran Desert or uncovering an unknown injustice right down the street. Since joining the KJZZ newsroom in 2015, he has covered political scandals, fights over the future of energy, and efforts to care for some of Arizona’s most vulnerable communities. His pieces have also aired on national programs like Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Here & Now and Marketplace. Before coming to KJZZ, he reported for public radio stations in Nevada and Connecticut. Stone received his degree in English literature from Haverford College, where he also wrote about the arts and culture scene in Philadelphia. After graduating, he interned at NPR West in Culver City, California, where he learned from some of the network’s veteran reporters and editors. When he doesn’t have a mic in hand, Stone enjoys climbing mountains, running through his central Phoenix neighborhood and shamelessly promoting his cat, Barry.