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Arizona Senate President Karen Fann On Why Republicans Held On In Local Races

Arizona still has more than 60,000 ballots left to count as of Tuesday afternoon. Even with those votes still in process, Democrats are taking a victory lap for President-elect Joe Biden and Sen.-elect Mark Kelly, who already has a temporary office in D.C.; Kelly is ahead of Republican Sen. Marth McSally by more than 80,000 votes.

The GOP may be suffering those losses at the top of the 2020 ticket, but Republicans have successfully defended their majority status at the state Legislature.

Senate President Karen Fann — who won reelection to her leadership position on Monday — likely lost just one of her members, Sen. Kate Brophy McGee, to a Democratic challenger; Democrat Christine Marsh is holding onto her slim lead of about 600 votes in Legislative District 28.

Fann won reelection to her leadership position on Monday; Sen. Rebecca Rios was named Senate minority leader on Tuesday.

Fann told KJZZ’s The Show she went into the election concerned there would be more Republican losses.

“There was about $10 million of out-of-state monies coming from the Democrat Party and supporters just to flip our legislative seats,” she said.

She noted legislative races involved far more localized issues and candidates — candidates who have the benefit of running into their constituents are the grocery store or in the parent pick-up line at their kids’ school. But she also suggested Republicans who ultimately voted for Biden over Trump wanted to strike a balance by keeping Republicans in control at the state Capitol.

“Well, I think the general voters, they want to make sure that we have some sort of a secure environment for, not only for the economy but everything else,” Fann said.

“I think there were a couple of concerns here,” she went on. “I believe that many of the Democrats, you know, when they nominated Joe Biden as their candidate, they were expecting to get somebody that was more moderate, maybe more pro-business in some sense. … And then when, all of a sudden, it appeared that Vice President Biden — he appeared like he was starting to have some health issues. So, I don’t know if that’s true or not, but you could certainly see that something was going on there.”

She went on to note Biden’s choice of Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate, which she said made “a lot of people really nervous” in the context of Biden’s alleged “fatigue.”

The suggestion that Biden may be in poor health — and that that may have swayed voters in any race — is not supported.

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Steve Goldstein was a host at KJZZ from 1997 to 2022.