How much of a factor will conservative candidates and activists be in Republican primaries this year? We may need to look no farther than 2008 GOP presidential nominee John McCain’s home state of Arizona. With former congressman and radio talk show host J.D. Hayworth primed to make a spirited and competitive run against the Democrats’ favorite Republican senator, and the state’s new tax-raising GOP governor already trailing conservative state Treasurer Dean Martin in early polling, the August 24 primary is already becoming very interesting.

But the statewide races are not the only place with such political action. In the southeastern corner of the Grand Canyon State two-term Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Tucson), irrespective of her ability to command millions of dollars in campaign contributions from individuals and PACs, could also find herself facing serious political combat this November. Iraq War veteran and businessman Jesse Kelly is off to a compelling start in the 8th Congressional District, a vast desert territory that includes about 150 miles of the US-Mexico border.

The former Marine squadron leader also faces a moderate in the GOP primary, but the young candidate’s reasoning as to why he will prevail is sound. It seems that state Sen. Jonathan Paton, who is just getting into the congressional race, is one of just a handful of Republicans who voted in favor of “Big Sis” Janet Napolitano’s last budget when she was governor. Yes, the very budget that brought state spending to over $25 billion for the first time, caused one of the highest state deficits in the country, and increased government spending more than 75 percent during her five years as Arizona’s chief executive.

Sen. Paton will soon find, along with Gov. Brewer and possibly even Sen. McCain, that the days of taxing and spending are over. People are looking for new positive, accomplished alternatives, which is why a candidate like Jesse Kelly is the real deal.

Jim Ellis is a former political advisor to the House Republican leadership, to major corporations, and the national Republican Party committees. He has over 35 years of active political experience. He is also part of the Filibanter speaking program that combines political filibustering with entertaining banter.