Nationally, Republicans can hardly contain their optimism that they will score big this November.
And in Arizona, the GOP also is optimistic that its message will resonate with voters.
“There are a lot of unhappy Americans out there,” said Anthony Miller, chairman of the Legislative District 20 GOP in Ahwatukee Foothills.
One of the closely watched races will pit Democratic Congressman Harry Mitchell, who represents Ahwatukee Foothills in Congressional District 5, against the GOP winner of the August primary election.
“Harry Mitchell’s is a seat Republicans think we can win,” Miller said.
On Saturday March 20 the six likely GOP challengers will gather for what may be the first GOP candidate forum of the season, organized by Miller and local Republicans.
“It’s open to Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians and so forth,” said Miller.
The forum will be at Mountain View Lutheran Church, 11002 South 48th St., starting at 10 a.m., featuring Dr. Chris Salvino, Jim Ward, Mark Spinks, Lee Gentry, Susan Bitter Smith and David Schweikert.
For political insiders, the last three should be familiar.
Schweikert defeated Bitter Smith in the six-way primary two years ago by 1,000 votes, only to lose to Mitchell in the general election. He is a former Arizona lawmaker and Maricopa County Treasurer.
Bitter Smith, who ran for Congress 10 years ago, served on the Scottsdale City Council and as vice mayor and currently serves on the elected board of the Central Arizona Water Conservation District.
Gentry came in last in the 2008 GOP primary, but the attorney and certified public accountant is ready for a rematch, touting his accounting skills to help simplify the tax system and to cut wasteful spending in Washington.
Also hoping for the GOP nomination and to take on Mitchell is Salvino who said he has no political background but views himself as a citizen lawmaker. His focus is on health care reform (he opposes the current plan), the economy, border security and reducing the unemployment rate.
Ward also said he’s not a career politician, but the former advertising executive feels that the GOP has lost its way. He said he is pushing an agenda of prosperity, liberty and security.
Spinks is a small business owner with a middle class background. He also wants to rein in spending, reform the tax code and stimulate the economy.
What all the Republicans have in common is they are running against Washington, health care reform and what they see as a giant government that has grown out of control.
Miller said he wants to conduct Republican candidate forums for all the races, including governor, possibly next month.