Can an Independent candidate win in a Tucson City Council race?  For the first time in a long time, an Independent (Gary  Watson in Ward 3) is running for political office in Tucson.  Having reported for for 4.5 years and here at for 3.5 years, I’m trying to recall when Independents have run or been in political office.

Former Republican Pima County Supervisor Ed Moore ran for re-election in Nov. 1996 as an Independent, and lost to newcomer Democrat Sharon Bronson.  Tucson City Council member Carol West was a long time Democrat and changed to Independent, then did not seek re-election in 2007.   Former Republican Gene Chewning ran for AZ House in LD 27 in 2010 as an Independent and lost, as did former Dem AZ House Representative Ted Downing in LD 28 State Senate race. And didn’t Green Party candidate Dave Ewoldt also run as an Independent for State Senator in LD 28, to get onto the 2010 General Election ballot?  They both lost to the Democrat incumbent Senator.


So, no Independent candidate has run and won  in Tucson (as far as I know). Chewning told me after his 2010 loss, that because he ran as an Independent, he no longer had a party structure to assist in his campaigning. He got a lot more votes as a Republican for the same LD 27 House race in 2006 (11,327 to 4,526).

Firefighter /Captain of a Northwest fire station Gary Watson (I, former Republican) said at a recent AZ Independents forum at Murphy-Wilmot library that he was “not R enough for the Republican Party”, and “not D enough for the Democratic Party”.

Gary Watson

From Pima County Recorder’s Office: # of registered  voters in City of Tucson (citywide) — Democrats 106,832; Republicans 55,925 and Independents  73,841.

I posted previously about a  Nov. 2015 report on Arizona Independents by ASU Morrison Institute (  The report says that Independents due to their dissatisfaction with the political process and parties, opt to sit out from voting in many elections.

With only 3 of the Tucson City Council seats and a few propositions on the November ballot, General Election turnout is predicted to be low.  Gary Watson is facing off with Democrat Paul Durham for the open seat in Ward 3.  Will a large # of Tucson Independent voters turn out to vote for an Independent candidate? If Watson wins, it will probably be a first in Tucson for an Independent to win an election.

Two City Council candidate forums coming up on October 6 and 11 — check our Calendar for details. Vote by mail ballots go out  on October 11.

Vote wisely or or before 11/7/17.