In a bitter primary battle that pitted two freshmanÂ House RepublicansÂ against each other, it was Rep. Dave Schweikert who came out on top Tuesday, besting Rep.Â Ben QuayleÂ in the fight for Arizonaâ€™s 6thÂ Congressional District.
The contest was the product of a redistricting process that favoredÂ Democrats, forcing the two Republicans to fight over a single seat.Â The result was a nasty campaign that caused some Republican heavyweights to rush to Quayleâ€™s defense.
But it clearly wasnâ€™t enough. Schweikert won 53% of the vote to Quayleâ€™s 47%.
Schweikert acknowledged the potential for hard feelings Tuesday at his election-night party.
â€œThis was an inter-family battle,â€ he said, according to theArizona Republic. â€œI need you to reach out, whether we win or lose, to start the healing.â€
Schweikert, a seasoned Arizona politician, had cast Quayle as a rich kid coasting on his famous fatherâ€™s name.Â A â€œsuper PACâ€ backing his candidacy aired an ad that invoked Vice President Dan Quayleâ€™s infamous misspelling of â€œpotatoâ€ to mock the younger Quayle for misstating federal spending figures. And Schweikert’s campaign sent out mailers that accused Quayle of going â€œboth waysâ€ on conservative issues.
The term â€œboth waysâ€ — usually used to describe bisexuality — drew the ire of Arizona Sen.Â John McCain, who endorsed Quayle in response to the mailer. Arizona Sen.Â Jon Kyl, who had also endorsed Quayle, blasted the mailer as â€œthe strangest of allusions to sexuality.â€
Quayleâ€™s campaign tried to damp Schweikertâ€™s attacks by dubbing him â€œDishonest Dave,â€ and launching a website by the same name.
But it was the controversy surrounding a trip toÂ IsraelÂ in which Kansas Rep.Â Kevin YoderÂ went skinny-dipping in the Sea of Galilee that sent Quayle into damage control mode in the final days of the campaign. AÂ PoliticoÂ story about the late-night dip named Quayle among the GOP lawmakers who went for a swim, though Quayle kept his clothes on.
The story gave Schweikert a fresh example for his claim that Quayle had â€œembarrassedâ€ voters by, among other things, penning Web posts in 2007 for a racy website about Scottsdale nightlife. Quayleâ€™s campaign has alleged that Schweikert leaked the Israel story to Politico in order to use it against Quayle.