Democrat Richard Carmona caught a break earlier today when attorney Don Bivens dropped out the Democratic primary.
Here's the statement from Bivens, former chairman of the Arizona Democratic Party:
The continuing head-to-head competition of our Democratic primary is draining resources that we will need as a party to win the U.S. Senate race in November. While I am confident we would win this primary, the cost and impact on the party I’ve spent my life fighting for could diminish our chance to achieve the ultimate goal: winning in November.
Don Bivens is a cornerstone of the Arizona Democratic Party and will remain so for years to come. An agent of change for our state, Don knew how great of an opportunity we have to win this seat and knew that it would take a strong and united effort to do so. He and his team ran a strong race that showed a great deal of respect for the nominating process which in turn has improved our party's chance of success in November.
I thank Don, his family and his campaign team for their selfless service to the party and eagerly anticipate working with them to move Arizona forward. He will be an integral player in any winning strategy and I look forward to working with him in the months ahead.
Democrats are looking at Arizona as a possible pick-up in the U.S. Senate because they believe Carmona has appeal to Arizona's independents and Democrats. As a result, Carmona has a lot of support from the Democratic establishment, from the White House on down. Still, Pima County Democratic Party chairman Jeff Rogers tells us he was surprised to hear that Bivens had decided to abandon the race.
Carmona will most likely face Congressman Jeff Flake, who is clobbering his GOP opponent, Wil Cardon, in every poll The Range has seen.
The most recent Public Policy Polling survey gave Flake an 11-point edge over Carmona.
Carmona has also picked up a key staffer: Adam Kinsey, the former executive director of the Pima County Democratic Party, has landed a job with the campaign after his plans to work for Democrat Nan Stockholm Walden evaporated when she decided to defer to Ron Barber and stay out of the Congressional District 2 race.
Carmona also picked up the endorsement of VoteVets.org Political Action Committee earlier today. The press release:
The largest group of progressive veterans in America, VoteVets.org PAC, is today endorsing Dr. Richard Carmona, a Vietnam Veteran, for Arizona's open Senate Seat.
"Rich Carmona has an absolutely incredible story - one of the most American stories I've seen in politics," said Jon Soltz, Iraq War Veteran and Chairman of VoteVets.org PAC. "He literally pulled himself up by his bootstraps, gave his all in service to this country in war, and came home to continue to serve the people. He's a fighter, and exactly the kind of person we need more of in Washington. He will do Arizona proud."
Born to a poor Hispanic family in New York City, Dr. Richard Carmona experienced homelessness, hunger and bleak prospects for a future education and economic opportunity. The child of parents who emigrated to the United States and struggled with alcoholism and substance abuse, Rich learned tough early lessons about economic disparities and social injustice - an experience he has never forgotten, and one that has given him an understanding of how culture, health, education and economic status shape our country.
Like his siblings and many of his friends, Carmona dropped out of high school. With few skills and little education, he enlisted in the Army and went to Vietnam. Military service gave him discipline and a drive to succeed that he still carries today. In order to apply for Special Forces and become a combat medic, he earned his high school equivalency degree. Carmona left the Army a combat-decorated veteran, he was later awarded two Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts, along with his combat medical badge and numerous other decorations to mark his service.
When he returned home from Vietnam, Carmona became the first member of his family to earn a college degree, and later received his medical degree. In 2002, he was nominated by the president and unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate to become the 17th Surgeon General of the United States.
Founded in 2006, the mission of VoteVets.org Political Action Committee is to elect Veterans to public office, with a focus on Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, and hold public officials accountable for their words and actions that impact America's 21st century troops and veterans. Though VoteVets.org PAC is non-partisan, candidates it backs must support VoteVets.org's core mission and beliefs.