posted by Josh Goodman
From state and federal election results this November, we'll get a good idea of where the American people stand on immigration reform. But if you aren't inclined to wait that long, keep a close eye on the returns tonight from Arizona's 8th Senate District.
That's where moderate Carolyn Allen, the incumbent, is squaring off with conservative Colette Rosati in a Republican primary the Arizona Republic termed a "Scottsdale smackdown."
I spoke with Allen when I was in Arizona a couple of weeks ago and could tell why conservatives don't like her. She referred to Rosati as an "outlier" and said that the House Republican leadership has "been on the warpath" to discredit Democratic Governor Janet Napolitano. One of the big reasons that some Republicans want to ditch Allen is that she has sided with Napolitano in budget disputes, although Allen notes that she has sparred with the governor on issues such as tort reform.
But if Rosati's going to pull the upset, it will be because of the border issue. She's staked out ground to the right of Allen, saying the incumbent has not done enough to combat illegal immigration.
Of course, this isn't a perfect test case for immigration as a national issue -- there's a big difference between Scottsdale Republicans and the country as a whole. But what makes the contest interesting is that Allen has lots of built-in advantages, such as a massive fundraising edge and endorsements from top Republicans in the state on both sides of the immigration debate. If she loses in spite of all that, it will only be because Rosati's enforcement-only position proved exceptionally potent.