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Patricia Spearman beats incumbent John Lee using 'retail politics'

We cannot technically refer to Patricia Spearman as Sen. Spearman. The surprise victor in the race for Senate District 1 faces token opposition in the general election. And by token, we mean really, really trivial. Her opponent belongs to the far-right Independent American Party. But barring some kind of electoral catastrophe, Spearman will serve in the 2013 legislature.

How did that happen? Her opponent, incumbent John Lee, had a $200,000 war chest and an endorsement from U.S. Sen. Harry Reid. Spearman had a little more than $13,000 and a coalition of progressive supporters.

“It was all shoe leather,” Spearman said. “We knocked on doors, we talked to people, we met with voters. It was just good old retail politics.”

Spearman ran the better campaign. Her opponent refused a debate on “Face to Face” and generally took his reelection for granted. But Spearman’s supporters were more motivated, propelling her to victory in a low-turnout contest.

In this Q&A with Spearman, she said, “I have the same chance of winning this race as David had when he was in the cotest with Goliath.” At the time, we thought that was just an inspired bit of pastor-speak. But it was prescient.

Having slayed one Goliath, Spearman is gearing up to take on another. Her first order of legislative business will be reforming the tax code, she said.

“Pretty quickly we have to look at the budget,” she said. “We have to, or our constituents will suffer. They didn’t elect us to take the easy way.”