Kirkpatrick wants her shot at U.S. Rep. Martha McSally
To no great surprise, Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick, the former congresswoman who represented the sprawling Congressional District 1 from 2012 to 2016, jumped into the race to unseat Republican U.S. Rep. Martha McSally here in Southern Arizona's Congressional District 2.
Kirkpatrick relocated to Tucson a few months ago and got around to registering to vote at her new address last week before announcing her plans to join the crowded field of Democrats hoping for a chance against McSally.
Kirkpatrick is certainly aware of the carpetbagger charges that are being leveled against her. Her video announcement made a point of noting that she attended law school at the University of Arizona, taught in public school and worked in the Pima County Attorney's Office before leaving town in search of the greener pastures of Northern Arizona.
"There's so much at stake right now," Kirkpatrick said. "Our healthcare, our climate, our standing in the world, and the very fundamentals of our democracy. We need a leader in Congress who can be a check on Donald Trump. My current representative Martha McSally has not only supported him, but she was one of the ringleaders behind repealing the Affordable Care Act."
Kirkpatrick will have to outrun a number of fellow Democrats, including Dr. Matt Heinz, the former state lawmaker who lost to McSally in 2016; Mary Matiella, a political newcomer who is running for Congress after a long career in the federal government that was capped with a gig as a United States assistant secretary of the Army in the financial management arena; former state lawmaker Bruce Wheeler (who just picked up the support of another would-be candidate who dropped out, Air Force vet and Jet Blue pilot Jeff Latas); businessman and political newcomer Billy Kovacs; and a handful of various other candidates who may or may not be serious about their candidacies.
Kirkpatrick will surely move into the top tier of candidates, based on her experience and her connections. And she has the support of Democrat Ron Barber, who lost the CD2 seat to McSally by 167 votes in 2014.
But it remains to be seen how well Kirkpatrick will connect with CD2 voters; in her unsuccessful bid for John McCain's Senate seat last year, she lost CD2 by 3 percentage points. (On the bright side, that puts her ahead of Heinz, who lost to McSally by 14 percentage points in 2016.) Given that Hillary Clinton beat Trump by 5 percentage points in CD2, it's fair to say that both Kirkpatrick and Heinz underperformed.
Speaking of Heinz: He recently announced he had raised $200,000 in his first two weeks of fundraising, which is a respectable ante for this particular poker game.
Matiella, who has a great bio about achieving against big odds, remains one to watch. She has the support of some party bigwigs, such as former Arizona Democratic Party chairman Bill Roe, and recently picked up the endorsement of CD3 Rep. Raul Grijalva, who called her "the progressive we need right now to fight for critical programs like Social Security and Medicare, which are under attack."
Whoever comes out of the primary won't find McSally easy to topple. With her history as an A-10 squadron leader, she's appealing to the district's big veteran population.
But CD2 remains a swing district and McSally herself, in her more candid moments, admits that Trump's unpopularity—combined with her reluctance to criticize anything he does—leaves her vulnerable. And while McSally is still reeling in the big fish each quarter—she raised more than a million bucks between March and June—she is spending it so quickly that she had less than a $1 million in the bank at the end of the quarter.
Dashing for Dollars, 2017 Edition
Ward 3 primary candidates show us the money
The biggest political action in town this summer is the Ward 3 Democratic primary, where business owner Tom Tronsdal, attorney Paul Durham and teacher Felicia Chew are squaring off for the chance to replace the retiring Karin Uhlich.
Recent campaign finance reports show that Durham is leading the fundraising race at this point. As of the end of June, he'd raised roughly $40,700, received about $22,800 in matching funds from the city and still had just over $41,000 left in the bank.
Tronsdal had raised a total of about $22,200 as of the end of June and boosted that with roughly $16,800 in city matching funds. He had $22,700 at the close of the reporting period.
Chew had raised a total of $10,700 and had roughly $3,000 left in her bank account at the end of June.
Early voting starts on Aug. 9 for the Aug. 29 primary. If you want to cast a vote, make sure you're registered by Monday, July 31.
The winner of the primary election will face independent candidate and firefighter Gary Watson, who reported raising only $2,350 as of June 30.