Oct. 30, 2017 — Sen. Jeff Flake’s (R) announcement Wednesday that he will not run for re-election has ignited a flurry of political activity in Arizona about who now might enter the newly open 2018 Senate race. Decisions are already being made, with many quickly saying they won’t run for the seat.
A great deal of attention surrounds 2nd District US Rep. Martha McSally (R-Tucson) for obvious reasons, because she is likely the best Republican candidate on paper, but the congresswoman has yet to make a public statement about running for the Senate. Published reports, however, quote sources close to her as saying she is being “inundated” with supporters urging that she run.
Winning her first congressional election in 2014, a 161-vote victory over then-Rep. Ron Barber (D-Tucson) that proved to be the closest congressional result in the country that year, and then racking up 57 percent support over former state Rep. Matt Heinz (D) last year even though Hillary Clinton was scoring a five-percentage point win in her southeastern Arizona congressional district makes Rep. McSally a proven political commodity. As a freshman House member, she raised an eye-popping $7.7 million for her first re-election effort. This year, ranking high on Democratic target lists and drawing eight announced opponents including former US Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Flagstaff) who moved to Tucson right after losing to Sen. John McCain (R) in the 2016 election, Rep. McSally already has accumulated over $1.45 million for her next campaign.
Oct. 24, 2017 — The 3rd Quarter Federal Election Commission US House disclosure reports are available, and they provide valuable clues as to which campaigns could become first-tier efforts next year. The Daily Kos Elections Page once again completed their quarterly analysis, which became the major source for this column.
Thirty-five incumbents and two challengers have already raised more than $1 million for the current election cycle. Another seven (six incumbents; one challenger) have crossed the $900,000 mark in current cycle receipts.
Most of the million-dollar incumbents are in projected competitive primary or general election campaigns.
Arizona two-term incumbent Rep. Martha McSally (R-Tucson) is again raising and spending huge amounts in the early going. She has gathered $2.8 million, a great deal of which comes through expensive direct mail, hence her cash-on-hand total is $1.453 million. Her potential leading Democratic opponent, former 1st District Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Flagstaff) who has re-located to Tucson in order to challenge McSally, is showing only $269,000 on hand in comparison, but that is the largest amount among the five Democrats filing disclosure reports in this district.
July 25, 2017 — Arizona former US Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Flagstaff) has completed her political transition to Tucson. Over the weekend, the former congresswoman and US Senate candidate announced that she will enter the very crowded Democratic primary in the AZ-2 Congressional District.
The move had been anticipated since Kirkpatrick had re-located from her home in Flagstaff to Arizona’s second largest population center and never ruled out entering the 2nd District race when questioned about doing so. Yet, even her path to the Democratic nomination is a difficult one, not to mention facing GOP Rep. Martha McSally (R-Tucson). Rep. McSally scored an impressive 57-43 percent re-election victory last November even though Hillary Clinton carried the district, 50-45 percent.
Already in the 2018 Democratic field are former state Rep. Matt Heinz, who lost to McSally as last year’s party nominee, ex-state Rep. Bruce Wheeler, former Assistant US Army Secretary Mary Matiella, businessmen Billy Kovacs, Charlie Verdin and Jeff Latas, and retired Air Force colonel, Lou Jordan.
Oct. 24, 2016 — With the presidential race appearing just about wrapped up, the Senate races are taking the center stage for competitiveness. Some of the races are changing.
The first section identifies competitive races that now appear set:
Arizona – Sen. John McCain (R) now looks to be a strong bet for re-election, as he leads Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Flagstaff) in all polling. Additionally, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) has pulled its media money, sending it to other states.
Illinois – Sen. Mark Kirk (R) appears in no position to overcome the strong Democratic trends that he faces. Therefore, Rep. Tammy Duckworth’s (D-Hoffman Estates) advantage should hold through Election Day, and she will become the new senator when the Congress convenes in January.
Iowa – Veteran Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) continues to cement his lead over Lt. Gov. Patty Judge (D). Neither party is emphasizing the race and the only October poll recorded (Des Moines Register/Selzer & Company; Oct. 3-6; 642 likely Iowa voters) again projects Sen. Grassley’s lead as approaching 20 points (53-36 percent).
Sept. 30, 2016 — Now that all political contests are in full campaign mode, we can report new numbers on five of the most hotly contested House race conversion opportunities for both parties.
One of the few truly swing congressional districts in the country, the expansive eastern Arizona 1st District is again the site of what should be a toss-up political contest. With Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Flagstaff) vacating the seat to run for Senate, the resulting general election matchup between former state Sen. Tom O’Halleran, who served a portion of his time in the legislature as a Republican, and controversial Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu (R) will be interesting to watch.
While Mitt Romney carried the 1st by a margin of 50-48 percent, a new Global Strategy Group survey (Sept. 22-25; 400 likely AZ-1 voters) finds Hillary Clinton topping Donald Trump, 46-43 percent. The same sample then yields a 45-38 percent O’Halleran lead.
The seven-point Democratic congressional margin equals what the GSG found in August, but the electorate has shifted. While more Republicans now support Babeu, Independent voters are trending toward O’Halleran.
A Democratic victory here, however, merely holds one of the party’s 188 seats and does not cut into the Republican majority.
Sept. 2, 2016 — It is clear that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is in a more precarious political position the day after his primary than the day before. On Tuesday, the veteran Arizona senator recorded only a 52-39 percent victory over his top challenger, former state Sen. Kelli Ward. Two other Republican candidates, Alex Meluskey and Clair Van Steenwyk, received a combined 9.1 percent of the GOP primary vote: 5.5 percent for Meluskey and the remainder for Van Steenwyk.
But Tuesday’s underlying numbers illuminate what is likely a greater McCain vulnerability for the fall campaign against 1st District Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Flagstaff): a weak Republican base.
Looking at the state’s 15 counties, Ward actually defeated McCain in three of them, Cochise, Navajo, and Mohave. Additionally, the senator only carried Apache County by 75 votes. Together, this suggests McCain is doing poorly on the Indian reservations, which is not unusual since the region is a Democratic stronghold, but these votes came from within his own party.
Aug. 31, 2016 — A look at overnight primary results:
Veteran Sen. John McCain (R) won his re-nomination campaign last night in Arizona, but with a lesser majority than expected. McCain topped former state Sen. Kelli Ward, 52-39 percent, which proved worse than his GOP primary margin six years ago (56 percent). Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Flagstaff) was unopposed on the Democratic side. The rather tepid McCain victory last night increases her chances in the general election.
Sen. Marco Rubio rebounded strongly from his failed presidential campaign with a 72 percent victory in his statewide Republican primary yesterday. More than 1.4 million Republican voters cast ballots in Florida’s nomination contest. Businessman Carlos Beruff, who spent more than $8 million of his own money on his campaign, finished a distant second with only 19 percent support.
Sen. Rubio now advances to the general election to face, as expected, Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Jupiter) who won his Democratic primary with 59 percent of the vote. Controversial Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Orlando), who was close early in the campaign, fell to only 18 percent, just ahead of also-ran candidate Pam Keith, an attorney and Navy veteran (15 percent). About 300,000 fewer Democrats than Republicans participated in the primary election. Sen. Rubio has been consistently gaining momentum, so he begins the general election as the slight favorite.
Aug. 29, 2016 — Arizona and Florida voters go to the polls tomorrow in what has become the most important of the late summer primaries.
Today, we cover Arizona and half of the competitive Florida campaigns. Tomorrow, the remaining Sunshine State races will be updated. Resulting from the court-ordered mid-decade redistricting changes and an unusually large number of open seats, competition is developing in no less than 17 of the state’s 27 congressional districts. Both states also host critical Senate contests.
• Senate: Sen. John McCain (R) is seeking a sixth term after originally winning in 1986, four years after his initial election to the House. What was thought to be a potentially competitive Republican primary at the outset seemingly fizzled when McCain drew a lesser primary opponent. For a time, it appeared that either Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Mesa) or Rep. David Schweikert (R-Fountain Hills/Scottsdale) might enter the statewide contest, but neither chose to do so. In fact, Rep. Salmon would later decide to retire altogether.
Former state Senator Kelli Ward, who resigned her position in order to spend her full energies in challenging McCain, has raised about $1.5 million, but it would likely require more in the way of resources and outside support to deny the veteran incumbent and former Republican presidential nominee a re-nomination victory. Expect Sen. McCain to do better than his 56 percent Republican primary performance in 2010.
Aug. 22, 2016 — Several analysis articles have appeared in the last few days indicating that the House majority might well be in play for the Democrats. Is this reality, wishful thinking, or just a partisan rhetorical ploy to engage the party base?
To re-cap, the Republicans have their largest House majority since the 1928 election, currently standing at 247-R to 186-D, with two Democratic vacancies. In order for the Democrats to secure even a one-seat majority, they would have to re-elect incumbents and candidates in all 188 of their current districts and then convert 30 Republican positions.
Initially, not all 188 Democratic seats are secure. In fact, at least one is surely coming the GOP’s way. After the court-mandated mid-decade redistricting operation in Florida, the 2nd District became a virtual Republican gimme seat. Freshman Rep. Gwen Graham (D-Tallahassee) choosing not to seek re-election guarantees a Republican victory.
May 20, 2016 — A new Public Policy Polling survey (May 13-15; 896 registered Arizona voters, 443 likely Republican primary voters) provides further evidence that the Arizona Senate race will attract a great deal of attention in the fall campaign. If this data is accurate, then the Aug. 30 Republican primary will be noteworthy, too.
According to the results, five-term Sen. John McCain (R) holds only a 42-36 percent lead over Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Flagstaff) in the general election pairing. Though the ballot test presents an ominous sign for McCain, this data is actually better for him than an April Behavior Research Center study. That poll found he and Rep. Kirkpatrick tied at 42 percent.
But this PPP survey, for the first time, shows McCain becoming potentially vulnerable in the Republican primary. The senator has four Republican primary challengers, including former state Sen. Kelli Ward.
According to the primary ballot test question, McCain would only lead the GOP field with 39 percent, followed by Ward who registers 26 percent support. Adding all of the minor candidates together totals an additional nine percentage points, with 27 percent undecided. If McCain and Ward are isolated in a one-on-one contest, the two are actually tied with 41 percent apiece.
May 9, 2016 — Arizona Sen. John McCain (R) said late last week that he is “worried that [Donald] Trump as the GOP nominee puts his own seat in play”. Later in the day McCain partially walked back his comments by saying he would vote for Trump.
McCain’s observation about his own re-election status is both right and wrong. He’s correct in detecting that his seat is competitive this year, and a sleeper race for the Democrats, but erroneous in attributing the reason to Donald Trump’s impending national presidential candidacy as the Republican nominee.
The Arizona Senate race may well be in play, but it has been trending that way for some time and before Trump became a serious fixture in the presidential campaign. In surveys dating back to mid-January, McCain was seen as dropping into a virtual tie with Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ-1), his presumptive general election opponent.
The Behavioral Research Center tested the Grand Canyon State electorate in January and again in April. In between, Arizona-based Merrill Polling also fielded a survey (March 7-11). Two of the three polls found McCain leading Kirkpatrick by just one point. The other found the pair tied.
April 19, 2016 — Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) scored another victory in a Republican state convention system that features no direct voting. Like North Dakota and Colorado, Wyoming has historically chosen its delegates through the state convention process, and did so again over the weekend.
Earlier in the process, county caucuses chose 12 of the state’s 29 national convention votes. On Saturday, the state convention delegates elected the remaining 14 national delegates. The final three are the Republican National Committee members: the state GOP chairman, the national committeeman, and national committeewoman.
The end result is 23 delegates for Sen. Cruz versus one for national front-runner, Donald Trump. The others remain uncommitted or attached to other candidates. But, Wyoming is one of the unbound delegations, meaning the members can still change their votes unless subsequent party directives and rules enforce pledged loyalty.
According to the GreenPapers.com political information website, Trump now leads Cruz 758-558 in the national delegate count. This means Trump needs another 479 votes to clinch the nomination. To win on the first ballot, Trump would have to claim just over 62 percent of the outstanding 769 Republican delegates.
April 15, 2016 — Jacksonville area Rep. Ander Crenshaw (R-FL-4) has announced he will not seek a ninth term in office, thus ending a congressional career that began with his initial election in 2000.
He becomes the 44th House member not to seek re-election in 2016, and the 29th Republican, making this the third consecutive election cycle with an abnormally large number of open seats. In 2012, 63 districts were open; 2014 saw 48 campaigns without an incumbent running. Normally, open seats number in the 30-35 range. Crenshaw’s unexpected retirement means that seven of Florida’s 27 US House seats will be open for the coming election.
Previously, the 71-year-old lawmaker served in the Florida state House and Senate for a combined total of 14 years. In 1992, Crenshaw became the first Republican in almost 120 years to be elected as president of the Florida state Senate. He is a member of the House Appropriations Committee and chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government.
Feb. 15, 2016 — The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee released its early primary and secondary target lists for the 2016 campaign, which is a rather curious grouping. It is already clear that the House Democratic leadership sees no path to the majority in this election, at least during this campaign period.
With the Republican advantage at 247 (once former Speaker John Boehner’s western Ohio seat is filled in special election) to 188, the Democrats would need a net gain of 30 seats just to obtain a one-seat majority. The fact that their primary and secondary target list includes only 24 races suggests that they are nowhere close to putting enough seats in play to seriously challenge the Republican leadership structure.
On the primary list of 16 candidates, two seats are already under Democratic control, CA-24, the Santa Barbara seat of the retiring Rep. Lois Capps, and the FL-18 district of Rep. Patrick Murphy who is running for the Senate. Therefore, what they believe are prime opportunity races number just 14.
Nov. 17, 2015 — The Rocky Mountain Poll, from the Behavior Research Center (Oct. 24-Nov. 5; 577 registered Arizona voters), brings us the Arizona Senate race’s most recent snapshot both for the Republican primary and Sen. John McCain’s (R) general election pairing.
Though the sample period of 13 days is unacceptably high, therefore creating a large polling error factor, the results at least provide us a reference point from which to begin serious monitoring of this campaign.
According to the results, Sen. McCain leads Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ-1) by an uncomfortably small margin, 37-31 percent, just a six-point spread. From McCain’s perspective, the poll’s most troubling aspect is his general election support figure topping out at only 37 percent. This could tie back to the large error factor, and because the pollsters gave the uncommitted/undecided response equivalent status to voicing a preference for one of the two major party candidates. In fact, 32 percent of the respondents said they are undecided. Therefore, not choosing a candidate became an easy and acceptable response.