Spending in local congressional races breaks all previous records
The money just keeps pouring into our Southern Arizona congressional races—as you've probably noticed if you've turned on your TV and seen the relentless barrage of advertising being run in the high-profile rematch between Congressman Ron Barber and GOP challenger Martha McSally.
McSally, who lost to Barber by about 2,500 votes two years ago, continues to collect dollars at a record-breaking pace. The former Air Force A-10 pilot raised more than $1.4 million in the third quarter, according to campaign-finance reports filed with the FEC last week. That's the biggest haul by a challenger that The Skinny can remember any candidate pulling in. And it's the fifth quarterly report in which McSally has outraised Barber, who reported bringing in $920,000 in the third quarter.
"Southern Arizonans know they have a choice in this election between more of the same under Ron Barber or a new direction, and they're overwhelmingly supporting the stronger leadership that Martha brings," said Team McSally spokesman Patrick Ptak. "Under the failed Obama-Barber policies, Southern Arizona has lost more jobs than anywhere in the country, families continue to struggle, and our border remains unsecured."
But Barber spokeswoman Ashley Nash-Hahn said that Barber's big haul showed that he had plenty of support in the community.
"Southern Arizonans stand by Ron because he shares our values and is working hard for the people of this community," said Nash-Hahn. "Ron is standing up to the feds in Washington, and he is fighting to protect Medicare from cuts, invest in our schools and stop tax increases on middle class families. Ron has spent a lifetime helping the people of Southern Arizona, and unlike his opponent, you will always know where he stands on the issues."
Over the course of the campaign, McSally has raised more than $3 million and still had a million dollars going into the final stretch. Barber had raised $3.15 million and had just shy of a million dollars at the start of October.
All in all, Barber has had more money to spend, since he has been fundraising longer: He has spent, in total, roughly $2.1 million, while McSally has spent $2.2 million.
But the spending by the candidates has been dwarfed by spending from outside groups. The Cook Political Report rounded up spending by various outside groups in races across the country and revealed that pro-Democratic groups—including the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the House Majority PAC and the Gabby Giffords' Americans for Responsible Solutions—had spent more than $3.5 million in CD2, while groups supporting McSally—including the National Republican Congressional Committee—had spent more than $3.2 million. All in all, the outside groups had poured more than $6.8 million into the race, making it the fourth-biggest district in the nation for independent expenditures.
But coming in ahead, at No. 3, was Congressional District 1, where Democratic incumbent Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick is trying to fend off a challenge from Republican Speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives Andy Tobin.
Outside groups had dumped more than $7.1 million into that race, with about $3 million supporting Kirkpatrick and $4.1 million supporting Tobin.
Tobin could use the extra cash. Between July 1 and Sept. 30, he only raised $479,000, while Kirkpatrick raised $821,000. Throughout the 2014 election cycle, Kirkpatrick has far outraised Tobin—she has collected more than $2.7 million and still had $820,000 on hand as of Sept. 30, while Tobin has raised just over a million dollars.
All that cash tells us one thing: The NRCC saw how narrowly they lost those two races in 2012 and GOP strategists believe that spending a few more dollars this time will flip the seats.
At least one national forecaster is giving Barber a better shot at winning than Kirkpatrick. The D.C.-based Roll Call newspaper moved Barber off the list of the 10 Most Vulnerable House Members—a list he had been on since it debuted for the 2014 midterms last year.
Reporters Emily Cahn and Abby Livingston wrote that Barber remains "in serious political peril."
But they added that Barber was "excluded from the October edition of this list because Democrats and Republicans are surprised by internal polls showing him with a little breathing room ahead of the Republican nominee, Martha McSally."
We've heard similar stories, mostly based on polling that shows McSally having trouble boosting her favorability numbers. While her personal biography is impressive and she can perform well on the stump in front of friendly audiences, McSally still struggles to explain her positions on controversial issues and dodges the press whenever possible.
Still, as the few remaining undecided voters make up their minds, it's certainly possible they will decide their dislike of the Obama administration means they want change—and thus, they may fall into McSally's column.
Meanwhile, taking Barber's place on the 10 Most Vulnerable House Members list is Kirkpatrick. Cahn and Livingston noted that "Kirkpatrick is on this list for two reasons: Republicans got their preferred nominee, state Speaker Andy Tobin, and she's running in a brutal district for any Democrat. Even so, Tobin proved to be a weak fundraiser in the primary. His third-quarter fundraising report will reveal much about the health of his general-election campaign. Democrats are also skittish about Kirkpatrick's voting record in such a conservative district, but there's a general consensus she's a solid fundraiser and a uniquely good fit for the district."
Gov Race Remains Tight
New Poll shows race is neck-and-neck
A new survey by Republican pollster Jim McLaughlin shows the race for governor between Republican Doug Ducey and Democrat Fred DuVal remains tight.
Ducey had the support of 37 percent of voters, while DuVal had the support of 35.8, according to a survey of 500 likely voters taken between Oct. 12-14.
"Doug Ducey has run a dishonest and negative campaign, fueled by millions from out-of-state billionaires, and Arizona voters are reacting with disgust," said Team DuVal campaign manager Bill Scheel in a prepared statement. "The same voters who elected Jan Brewer by double digits and gave Mitt Romney a 9-point win cannot stand Doug Ducey, and things are looking better for Fred DuVal, an education leader who is locked in a dead heat with Ducey."
The survey also showed that 39 percent of the voters were supporting Republican Mark Brnovich in the Attorney General's race, while 32 percent said they were supporting Democrat Felecia Rotellini.
"Zona Politics with Jim Nintzel," airs every Sunday at 9:30 a.m. on KGUN-9. This week's scheduled guests include Democratic gubernatorial candidate Fred DuVal and a panel discussion of the week's news with Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Lea Marquez Peterson and former Pima County Democratic Party chairman Jeff Rogers..