By: Paulina Pineda June 29, 2018Rep. Paul Mosley (R-Lake Havasu City) (Photo by Rachel Leingang/Arizona Capitol Times
By: Paulina Pineda June 29, 2018
A crowded Republican primary race in Legislative District 5 and friction among the candidates could pose a threat to Rep. Paul Mosley’s run for a second term in the House.
The Lake Havasu City Republican is facing off against seatmate Rep. Regina Cobb, R-Kingman, political newcomer Leo Biasiucci and Jennifer Jones-Esposito, who is making a third attempt for a seat in the Arizona House, in the August 28 primary.
Republican political consultant Chuck Coughlin said while it’s hard to knock out an incumbent in a primary, the LD5 GOP primary is a competitive race.
He said Mosley is a freshman lawmaker, which is generally when incumbents are most vulnerable, and he hasn’t made many friends at the Capitol.
Laurence Schiff, chairman of the Mohave County Republican Party, said that while incumbents tend to win because they have name recognition, an established voting record and financial support from lobbyists and political action committees, Mosley could face an uphill battle.
Schiff said Mosley is the most conservative of the four candidates, a plus in one of the reddest districts statewide, but he has been criticized for being hard to work with at the Legislature. That reputation has made it difficult for Mosley to get bills onto the governor’s desk, Schiff said.
Just a few of Mosley’s bills were signed into law this year. One of his measures, HB2459, which would establish a $250 individual income tax credit for each qualifying child a taxpayer claims as a dependent, was defeated in the House, 18-39, on reconsideration, faring worse than it did the first time around when it failed 20-38. He had tried all that week but failed to garner enough support for the bill, he told colleagues on the floor the day of the vote.
Mosley has also been slammed with allegations of financial impropriety during his time at a brokerage firm, Schiff said, and challenger Biasiucci accused Mosley earlier this year of stealing his nominating petitions from a Lake Havasu City gun shop. Mosley has denied both allegations.
Schiff said while those claims have mostly blown over, there are people in Lake Havasu City who don’t support Mosley and who could give an edge to Biasiucci or Jones-Esposito.
When Jones-Esposito ran in 2012, Schiff said, she lived on the southern end of LD5 in Quartzite and was relatively unknown in Mohave County. Since moving to Kingman, he said, she has gained name recognition and now she also has more experience running a political campaign.
Schiff said Biasiucci has also positioned himself as a serious candidate this year. He described Biasiucci as “a very attractive candidate,” adding that he is young, charismatic, and well-spoken. And he said the Lake Havasu City resident is getting help from Rep. Cobb and Sen. Sonny Borrelli, R-Lake Havasu City, who have “taken him under their wing.”
Cobb told the Arizona Capitol Times that she urged Biasiucci to run for the House. Though she said she isn’t running on a slate with him, she has held meet-and-greet and fundraising events with him and Borrelli throughout the district.
However, Schiff said Biasiucci ran as a Green Party candidate for the House in 2014 and only recently became a Republican, also at Cobb’s urging, and that could hurt his chances in the extremely conservative district.
“He talks about taking conservative positions but he doesn’t have a voting record, so you never know,” he said.
Former state Sen. Ron Gould, a Lake Havasu City Republican, is less convinced that the crowded field will impact Mosley’s re-election chances.
He said any allegations that have been leveled against Mosley are most likely only known among political insiders, and he said people who are attending events put on by the other candidates were likely already supporters.
He said the race will come down to who has the most money and how effective the candidates are at getting their message out to voters.
“The real battle is in the mailbox and in the media,” he said.
Mosley said he’s unfazed by the competition or by Cobb’s and Borrelli’s apparent support for Biasiucci in the LD5 House race. He said his relationship with Cobb has never been great and he isn’t surprised she urged Biasiucci to run.
He said he is far more conservative than the other candidates and said his voting record speaks for itself. He pointed to his A+ rating with the Center for Arizona Policy, Arizona Free Enterprise Club and the National Rifle Association as examples of his conservative record.
Still, he was snubbed by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which only endorsed Cobb for LD5 House, and the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, which endorsed Cobb and Biasiucci. Neither group endorsed Mosley in 2016.