Mormons in Congress, Part 3

The third in a series of guest posts from Kay Atkinson King. Many thanks, Kay!

U.S. House Races in Arizona

Another Mormon vs. Mormon Republican Primary

Redistricting and Reapportionment in 2012

The 2010 U.S. census required a reapportionment (reallocation) of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives among the states, and the 2012 congressional elections are the first to be held with the revised distribution of House seats.  Each state with more than one representative also must go through its own process of redrawing the congressional districts to assure that the districts are equal in population (Wikipedia has a good discussion of reapportionment and redistricting:  United States congressional apportionment; Redistricting).  (In the state of Arizona, for example, the new nine congressional districts – up one from the eight Arizona had after the 2000 census – barely differ in population from one another.  Eight of the districts have a population of 710, 224 and one district has a population of 710,225.  Arizona Final Congressional Districts – Population.)  These district boundaries will remain in place for the next ten years until the reapportionment and redistricting following the 2020 census.  Because incumbent members of Congress have an advantage in subsequent elections, the competition for House seats in 2012 is particularly intense, and enormous amounts of money and political effort are being poured into these congressional races.

Drawing the new congressional districts is done in most cases by the state legislature by legislation or in small but growing number of states by an independent commission in an effort (not always successful) to minimize partisan political manipulation.  Because the stakes are so high in terms of influencing which party controls the U.S. House of Representatives, it is difficult to keep highly political governors and state legislatures from trying to meddle even in the case of “independent commissions.”  In Arizona, Republican Governor Jan Brewer, with support of the State Senate, removed the independent chair of the state’s redistricting commission and also attempted to remove the two Democratic members of the commission, only to have her action overturned by the Arizona Supreme Court.  (“United States House of Representatives elections in Arizona 2012,” Wikipedia;  “Redistricting in Arizona,” Wikipedia.)

The result of the reapportionment and redistricting of Arizona’s nine congressional districts is that there are four districts which are Republican strongholds, two districts which have a reliably Democratic population, and three which are more closely balanced.  Because of the realignment, the four incumbent Republican congressmen are all running in the Republican strongholds, and two Democratic incumbents are running in the reliably Democratic districts.  The three remaining seats – the most evenly balanced districts – are open seats with strong Republican and strong Democratic candidates (USAToday: “Toss-ups could create Dem-majority delegation [in Arizona]”).

Mormons have played a significant role in Arizona’s political life for some time.  Four Arizonans have represented the state in the House of Representatives:  (1) Stuart Udall (D-AZ 1955-1961) and Secretary of the Interior (1961-1969) under Presidents John F .Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson;  (2) his brother Mo Udall (D-AZ 1961-1991), who was a serious but unsuccessful contender for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1976.  Stuart is the father of Tom Udall (D-NM 2009-present), LDS member and current Democratic U.S. Senator and former representative in Congress from New Mexico (1999-2009).  Mo is the father of Mark Udall, not an LDS member, the current Democratic U.S. Senator (2009 – present) and former representative in Congress from Colorado (1999 – 2009).  The other two Arizonans who have served are still active:  (3) Matt Salmon (R-AZ 1995-2001), who is again running for the U.S. House this year and (4) Jeff Flake (R-AZ 2001-present), who succeeded Salmon after he left Congress, and is running for the U.S. Senate this year.

A Mormon Free-for-All in Arizona’s New 5th Congressional District

As we noted earlier the intense and competitive Republican U.S. Senate primary in Arizona has two Mormons running against each other.  [See BCC BLOG:  Mormons in Congress 2012: (2) Arizona U.S. Senate Race; Mormon vs Mormon in the Republican Primary  <<LINK>>.]   The Arizona U.S. House primary for the new 5th Congressional District is a very similar contest – Mormon vs Mormon in a highly competitive race.  It appears that there are Mormon candidates only in the 5th Congressional District in Arizona, and the others, as far as I have been able to determine, do not include Church members.

The old Arizona 6th Congressional District (2002-2012) is similar to the newly drawn 5th Congressional District, and the congressman in the old 6th district is Jeff Flake, who is not running for reelection to the House but seeking election to the open Arizona U.S. Senate seat.  The two Republican candidates seeking to replace Flake in the new 5th district are both Latter-day Saints – former Congressman Matt Salmon, who represented the then 1st Congressional District seat from 1995-2001 and was replaced by Flake in 2001, when Salmon did not run for reelection; the other LDS candidate is Kirk D. Adams, an Arizona state representative and former speaker of the Arizona House.

Former Congressman Matt Salmon

Salmon was born in Salt Lake City, graduated from Mesa (Arizona) High School, attended Arizona State University and received a Masters in Public Administration from BYU.  He worked as a community manager for US West (the baby bell telephone company for the Western states) and later had his own lobbying/government relations firm in Phoenix and Washington, D.C.  In 1990 he was elected to the Arizona state Senate where he served one term (1991-1995).  In the Republican primary fo the state senate seat, Salmon defeated the incumbent state senator, who had been discredited by his support for then-Arizona Governor Evan Mecham.  Mecham was plagued by controversy and became the first U.S. governor to simultaneously face removal from office through impeachment, a scheduled recall election, and a felony indictment.  He was the first Arizona governor to be impeached, and attracted national attention after he fought vigorously against Arizona observing the Martin Luther King holiday.  (“Obituary: Evan Mecham, 83; Was Removed as Arizona Governor,” Washington Post.)  Meacham was a Latter-day Saint.

Salmon did not run for reelection to the Arizona state Senate, but in 1994 ran for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.  He was elected and served for six years (1995-2001).  Salmon was elected at a time when many conservative candidates made a term limit pledge, and he joined in pledging to serve only three terms.  Unlike most of those who made the term-limit pledge, Salmon actually kept his word and did not run for reelection to a fourth term in Congress.  He was succeeded by LDS member Jeff Flake, who served 12 years in Congress and is now running for an open U.S. Senate seat.

In 2002, Salmon ran for governor of Arizona.  He won a three-way Republican primary with 56% of the vote.  In the general election contest against Democrat Janet Napolitano, Salmon lost to Napolitano by a margin of 46% – 45%.  She served for six years as governor and resigned to accept appointment as U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security.  (“Ex-Rep. Matt Salmon Running Again for Congress,”Roll Call“Former U.S. Rep. Matt Salmon to announce candidacy,” Arizona Republic.)

Kirk D. Adams, Former Speaker of the Arizona House

The Republican primary on August 28, 2012, will be strongly contested between Mormons.  In addition to Matt Salmon, Kirk D. Adams, former Speaker of the Arizona state House of Representatives and a member of the Church, is a serious candidate (“Arizona Congressional Races to Watch in 2012,”   Adams served in the Arizona House (2006-2011) and as Speaker (2009-2011), but he resigned in 2011 in order to run for this congressional seat shortly after Jeff Flake announced he was running for the U.S. Senate.

Adams is the principal of the Adams Agency, a property and casualty insurance and real estate firm with offices in Mesa and two other locations in Arizona.  He was active in the National Federation of Independent Business, a conservative national lobbying organization focused on federal and state legislation and regulations affecting primarily small businesses.  He previously served as a member of the Maricopa County Industrial Development Authority, which issues tax exempt bonds for economic development and construction of affordable housing.  Adams and his wife have six children and live in Mesa.  (“Kirk David Adams,” Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records.)

Politically, Adams has supported Arizona’s strict immigration legislation, and he has been an advocate of reducing government spending.  (“After all-night session, House finally passes budget,” Arizona Capitol Times.)  He also has been active in pursuing the conservative social agenda.

Two Other Mormons in the Race Drop Out

At the time that Congressman Flake made his decision to run for the U.S. Senate, a third Latter-day Saint announced he was actively seeking the nomination to congress to replace Flake.  Russell Pearce, President of the Arizona state senate and author of the controversial Arizona immigration law (Arizona S.B. 1070) which recently had a number of its provisions struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court, also began to seek support for the congressional seat (“Early, Long Whip Race Will Test GOP Cohesion,” Roll Call).  Pearce, however, dropped out of the congressional race after he lost a recall election, the first Arizona state legislator to be recalled by the voters.  (“Arizona Senate’s Immigration-Law Author Pearce Ousted in Recall Election,” Bloomberg News.)

A fourth LDS candidate was considering the race as well – Chuck Gray, also a resident of Mesa, who served as a representative in the Arizona House of Representatives (2003-2006) and an Arizona state senator (2006-2011).  He intended to run for the 5th Congressional District, but dropped out after final boundaries were announced, although he did raise a small amount of money under U.S. federal campaign laws.  Gray has since endorsed Matt Salmon for the 5th Congressional District seat (“Chuck Gray – Living the American Dream,”

Shape of the Mormon vs. Mormon Primary Race

Salmon has a definite advantage, having run three congressional campaigns (1994, 1996, and 1998) and a state-wide race for governor (2002).  Though he has been out of politics for the past decade, he still has much greater name recognition than Adams, although Adams was Speaker of the state House of Representatives.  Members of the state legislature have a much lower profile, and that is a disadvantage for campaigning and for fundraising.

Salmon is trying to present himself as the likely victor.  He announced a poll conducted by his campaign the last of July showing him ahead by 28 points.  Adams campaign called the poll flawed but said that the numbers are “closing” and that Adams would compete until election day (“District 5 race: Few sparks in Matt Salmon, Kirk Adams race,” Arizona

Adams, however, has won key endorsements that clearly indicate that the race is very competitive.  Arizona U.S. Senator Senator John McCain endorsed Adams as “new generation” of leaders (“John McCain endorses Kirk Adams as ‘new generation’ of leader,” Arizona Capitol Times).  Adams also won an endorsement on August 2 from Sarah Palin, and that give him credibility with the Tea Party and the most conservative voters (“Sarah Palin Endorses Kirk Adams for Congress in AZ 05,” Sonorian Alliance)

The presence of two Church members competing for the Republican nomination already added some Biblical spice to an April candidate debate.  “Salmon was lambasted for comparing Adams to Pontius Pilate for raising taxes” (“Arizona Congressional Races to Watch in 2012,”  The villain in the race is another Mormon – Mormon Democrat Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate, Harry Reid (D-NV).  The two candidates in a campaign debate squabbled over whether the Paul Ryan (R-WI), chair of the U.S. House Budget Committee, or proposals of U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) were better.  When Salmon defended Paul’s proposals, Adams responded, “Not accepting the Ryan plan is the same position Harry Reid takes,” which provoked a mix of jeers and applause from a packed auditorium in Mesa (“Salmon, Adams joust over experience in 5 CD debate,” East Valley Tribune).

The best indicator of the state of the race at this point is the fund raising of the two candidates, and there Salmon has the advantage.  Salmon has raised a total of $831,232 and had $335,984 cash on hand as of reports through June 30, 2012.  Adams has raised $588,698, with $162,298 cash on hand as of June 30 (Open Secrets).

Likely Mormon Congressman

For the 5th Congressional District

There is a Democratic candidate also in the race for the 5th District congressional seat who will face the winner of the Republican primary in the general election – Spencer Morgan, a student at Mesa Community College.  He is unopposed in the Democratic primary election at the end of August, and will be the Democratic candidate in November.  His chances of becoming the congressman for the district, however, are slim.  The candidate does have a web page (, however, he has reported no funds raised to the Federal Election Commission (Open Secrets), which suggests he is unlikely to get very far in the general election campaign.

The newly drawn 5th district is one of the Arizona districts that is a Republican stronghold based on voter registration and past voting record, and in this district, Latter-day Saints are particularly influential.  Included in the district are the east Phoenix suburban areas, including those areas with significant Mormon population – a major section of Mesa, part of Chandler, and Gilbert.  Although Arizona has some 200,000 Latter-day Saints (about 6% of the state’s population), the areas around Mesa are much more heavily LDS than most other areas of the state.  Since Mormons vote disproportionately Republican and are generally more conscientious about voting, a Church connection is significant boost in the Republican primary in this district as well as in the general election.


  1. Stewart Udall would probably appreciate having his name spelled the way his mother spelled it. If he were around to be appreciative. : )

    Interesting post. Thanks for putting these up.

  2. Thank you for this interesting insight. As a native Arizonan, I know personally some of the characters you mentioned.

    I have to just include my remembrances of what occurred with this holiday kerfuffle. The ex-guv said if they allowed MLK day, they would have to do away with either Washington or Lincoln’s b-day as a holiday. It came down to two presidents who helped all Americans vs. a civil rights leader who helped an under represented minority. It was finally resolved when the two presidential b-days were combined into President’s Day allowing MLK to have his day. I guess there is a backstory to most quotes but just wanted to give it some context. (I’m not going to go for the easy line to end this entry…you’re welcome)

  3. It didn’t help Ev Mecham’s prospects that he had a big mouth in which one of his feet had taken up more or less permanent residence.

  4. There was never a Lincoln’s day holiday. Yes, his birthday is in February, but to this day the federal holiday is for Washington’s birthday.

    The civil rights movement made us all more free. Martin Luther King Day is my day.

    Context is important. It is only helpful if it is the actual context. I guess even Mecham needs apologists.

  5. Actually, kc, the debate was between MLK Day vs. Columbus Day. Supporters of MLK Day wished to honor civil rights progress (obviously) and so to them it seemed particularly egregious that the supposed sticking point was the alternative commemoration of a man who could well be said to have initiated genocide in this hemisphere. Of course many Arizona Mormons, with an 1980s unnuanced reading of 1 Nephi, found that characterization practically blasphemous. I was only a kid in elementary school at the time but I remember it well. We had debates about the issue at school. And I also heard it discussed at church. I was the only Mormon in my class at school and was uncomfortably conscious of how most of my classmates considered the governor a laughingstock and of how his perceived racism was reflecting badly on the Church, crippling our efforts to convince others that the pre-1978 era was behind us.

  6. Mark B — thanks for the spelling correction on Stewart Udall’s name. I could have used your help before the item was posted!
    I think it was his father, however, not his mother, who would have been concerned about how Stu’s name was spelled. Levi Stewart Udall — the father of Stewart and Morris (Mo) — was the son of Eliza Stewart, the first wife of David King Udall. The sons of David King Udall and Eliza (Stewart) Udall were Democrats, while the sons of David King Udall and Eliza (Hunt) Udall — David’s second polygamous wife — were mostly Republican. That helps at least in part to explain why Senator Mark Udall (son of Mo) and Senator Tom Udall (son of Stewart) are both Democratic senators, but their second cousin Senator Gordon Smith, grandson of Jesse Addison Udall (brother of Levi Stewart Udall) is a Republican. Another other second cousin of both Udalls and Gordon Smith is Senator Mike Lee of Utah. The grandmothers of both Udalls and Gordon Smith are Lee sisters, and are descended from John D. Lee. If you want to sort out the Udall family tree, check out the Wikipedia entry “Udall Family” at

  7. Kay,
    Actually, David King Udall’s second wife was named Ida (not Eliza) Hunt Udall. As her great-great granddaughter, I can vouch that not all of her descendants are staunch Republicans.

  8. Thanks, Julie. You are right. The name of David King Udall’s second wife was Ida. You are descended from some amazing people. The Udall Family has given us some remarkable public officials. I have traveled with Tom and Mark Udall on congressional delegations, and I have worked with Gordon Smith and his staff on a number of issues. Mo Udall was still in the House when I started working on the Hill, though his health was not good. All of the family members are remarkable people.