Democrat wave splashes on D26 - Tucson Local Media: Import

Democrat wave splashes on D26

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Posted: Thursday, November 9, 2006 12:00 am

November 8, 2006 - For the first time ever, a Democrat picked up a legislative seat in state legislative District 26, which covers most of the Northwest and Foothills.

Political newcomer Lena Saradnik, a Democrat, beat Republican nominee David Jorgenson, also new in the political arena, picking up 34 percent of the vote and one of two seats for the district in the state House of Representatives.

Incumbent Republican Pete Hershberger led the field, winning with about 38 percent of the vote.

"The clear message from the district is that voters want common-sense practical solutions that represent the district rather than Phoenix," Hershberger said. "The district wants common-sense, centrist representation rather than ideology." Hershberger was elected to his fourth term.

"I'm not surprised at all," Saradnik said of the results. "I always envisioned myself in second (place). There's been a Hershberger in this district for 40-some years. I know I'm not beating a Hershberger."

Saradnik said throughout the election that District 26 is a moderate district uninterested in the far-right politics of Jorgenson.

The District 26 State Senate race between Republican Al Melvin and Democrat Charlene Pesquiera was too close to call at press time with 95 percent of precincts reporting. Pesquiera appeared to be in the lead by about 500 votes.

Melvin, a retired merchant marine and Naval Reserve captain, shocked the politically active in District 26 when he upset moderate state Sen. Toni Hellon in the Republican primary. Melvin is a staunch conservative, against abortion, gay marriage and in favor of school vouchers. He repeatedly criticized Hellon for "voting like a Democrat."

Melvin said it was a close election and refused to say whether he was going to win or lose. He said there were still many provisional ballots to be counted.

Pesquiera said she felt like a winner, despite her race being too close to call. She joined the race after the primary election.

Jorgenson said his race was not over.

"I think all we'll know tonight is who's in the lead," Jorgenson said. "I don't think we're going to know until Friday or Monday who is the winner."

Jorgenson said possibly thousands of mail-in ballots and some provisional ballots will need to be counted after Tuesday night and could shift the election.

Jorgenson and Melvin ran as a team, both claiming in the primary to be the only conservatives in their respective races.

At press time, 12 precincts had yet to report results for District 26.

For more stories and results, look under the Northwest/Foothills section.

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