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Arizona Races

House Outlook for 2008

Will the GOP Swing the Pendulum Back?

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Arizona (01) (Open Seat)

Outlook: Leans Democratic


November 18, 2008 Update:

Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick won the district handily by 56% to 40% to take over indicted Republican Rick Renzi’s seat. Kirkpatrick defeated her rival Sydney Hay to become the first Democrat to serve the district in its 10 year history.

September 16, 2008 Update:

Neither Ann Kirkpatrick nor Sydney Hay impressed in securing their respective party nominations, but now the match for Arizona’s first district is set and both campaigns can concentrate on the general election. Kirkpatrick, long considered one of the Democrats best recruits, only mustered 47 percent against lesser known candidates Mary Titla (32) and Howard Shanker (18), and Hay, the presumptive GOP nominee, barely scraped by the underfunded challenge of Sandra Livingston 40-36.

Going into the general election, Kirkpatrick retains the advantage due to her strong fundraising and a 25K Democratic voter registration advantage. However, the frontrunner’s primary hiccup may reveal a window of vulnerability through which Hay can ride the coattails of John McCain and pull what would be one of the bigger upsets of 2008.

June 13, 2008 Update:

With the passing of the filing deadline, the speculation is over. Republicans will now settle for Sydney Hay to take on likely Democratic nominee Ann Kirkpatrick. By the DCCC’s count, eight prominent Arizona Republicans turned down chances to run for the seat, yet another example of the GOP’s candidate recruitment woes.

While the district leans Democratic in party registration, Bush won 51% and 54% of the district’s votes in his 2000 and 2004 presidential campaigns. While the GOP will have the Arizonan Senator John McCain atop their ticket in 2008, with a big fundraising gap down ballot (Hay has raised less than half of Kirkpatrick’s $660,000 total) and a weaker than expected candidate, can they still hold this seat?


Background

With the retirement of embattled incumbent Rick Renzi, this seat isn’t just open: it’s WIDE open. Renzi, currently finishing up his third term, is one of almost 20 Republicans giving up his seat in 2008, but for Renzi the reason is his alleged involvement in a less-than-squeaky-clean land transaction.

Candidates from both sides of the aisle have emerged to succeed Renzi. The Democratic frontrunner is state legislator Ann Kirkpatrick who garnered support from the DCCC and EMILY’s List and has proven to be a capable fundrasier. To win the nomination Kirkpatrick must overcome the challenges of former TV broadcaster Mary Titla and Howard Shanker whose strong ties to Apache and Navajo communities respectively hold political weight in the most heavily Native American congressional district in the country. Republicans are left without a strong candidate after the surprise withdrawal of state representative Bill Konopnicki, who may well reenter the race. For now, policy advocate Sydney Ann Hay is the only one filling the primary void, but potential Republican candidates cannot delay if they hope to retain the seat in November.

Candidates

Ann Kirkpatrick – Democrat – current state legislator, speaks fluent Navajo
Website

Howard Shanker – Democrat – attorney
Website

Mary Kim Titla – Democrat – publisher and broadcaster, born and raised on San Carlos Apache Reservation
Website

Sydney Ann Hay – Republican – policy advocate
Website

Arizona (03)

Outlook: Leans Republican


November 18, 2008 Update:

John Shadegg managed to hold off Democrat Bob Lord’s 3.4 million dollar campaign, winning by a 12 percent margin to continue his eighth term in the district.


Background

Rep. John Shadegg will face a well-funded challenger this year, despite his supposedly safe seat. Democratic attorney Bob Lord has over $630,000 in his coffers, which has forced Shadegg to call in the big guns, Arizona’s Senators John McCain and Jon Kyl, to shore up his bank account which posted a balance of $940,000 at the end of March.

Even though the Arizona primary date isn’t until September, neither Shadegg nor Lord has a primary opponent, so their matchup is already set in stone. This race isn’t yet on anybody’s list of most competitive races, but Lord’s fundraising abilities are causing Shadegg to redouble his efforts, as he should.

Candidates

John Shadegg (I) – Republican – current Congressman
Website

Bob Lord – Democrat – attorney
Website

Arizona (05)

Outlook: Leans Democratic


November 18, 2008 Update:

Democrat incumbent Harry Mitchell beat challenger David Schweikert and was re-elected to the district by a 9 percent margin. Mitchell picked up the seat two years ago when he ousted Republican J.D. Hayworth.

September 16, 2008 Update:

Former Maricopa County Treasurer David Schweikert narrowly bested a crowded primary field to claim the GOP nomination and will go on to face Representative Harry Mitchell in November. Schweikert can credit his two point victory to the Club for Growth whose early endorsement delivered the fundraising and independent advertising necessary to fend off the late entrance of city councilor Susan Bitter Smith. Although Schweikert gives Republicans the best hope of pulling the upset, he emerges from the primary at a severe financial disadvantage to Mitchell and licking the wounds of Bitter Smith’s attacks. Odds are this district will never give Mitchell an easy reelection, but don’t expect this year to be the one that sends the freshman from Arizona packing.


Democratic incumbent Harry Mitchell may find himself in yet another dogfight in Arizona’s 5th Congressional District. Mitchell won the seat in 2006 from Republican incumbent J.D. Hayworth, and won by a modest 5 percent. In a district that went 54-45 for Bush in the 2004 presidential e
lection, any Democrat is going to have his hands full.

Mitchell stands to gain from the Republicans having to resort to a crowded primary to sort out their nominee. Just by the nature of primaries, much of the airing of dirty laundry could be done within the Republican primary, saving Mitchell the money and negativity. This district should remain in Democratic hands, but it will take a concerted effort from Mitchell.

Candidates

Harold Mitchell (I) – Democrat – current Congressman
Website

David Schweikert – Republican – former county treasurer
Website

Jim Ogsbury – Republican – attorney, former Congressional staffer
Website

Laura Knaperek – Republican – former state legislator
Website

Mark Anderson – Republican – state representative
Website

Susan Bitter Smith – Republican – lobbyist and former city councilor
Website

Arizona (08)

Outlook: Likely Democratic


November 18, 2008 Update:

Freshman Democrat Gabrielle Giffords retained her seat in the 8th district with a comfortable 12% win over opponent Tim Bee.

July 29, 2008 Update:

Arizona state senate president Tim Bee has had some difficulty adjusting to the bright lights of a competitive Congressional campaign. Touted as one of the GOP’s top recruits, Bee hoped to unite the fractious wings of the Arizona Republican party and draw over the Democrats and independents he had worked with in the statehouse. However, in the past couple of months, Bee’s buzz is beginning to fade.

First, Bee angered Arizona conservatives for backing a Democratic budget deal that expanded state spending. Then, Bee veered in the opposite direction, drawing backlash from Democrats and social moderates over his support of a same-sex marriage referendum. In the fallout from the marriage debate, the district’s fiercely independent former Representative Jim Kolbe has rescinded his support, a move which crippled last cycle’s Republican nominee.

Bee’s lone bright spot has been fundraising—banking nearly $400K over the second quarter. He’ll need all of that money and more if he’s to overcome a 59 to 35 deficit in a Giffords poll (Bee’s own poll shows only a 7 point gap). Odds are, Bee will regain his footing and go on to give Giffords a run for her money, but these early stumbles show just how challenging running for Congress is, even for a savvy veteran like Tim Bee.


After prevailing in a tough Democratic primary, Representative Gabrielle Giffords received a free pass to Congress when district Republicans nominated the starkly conservative, anti-immigration advocate Randy Graf. This time, however, Giffords will be in for a fight against state senate president Tim Bee.

Bee, who was courted by the NRCC and a host of Arizona politicians, is the best possible candidate the party could field in this moderate swing district. Through his service in the statehouse, Bee enjoys support from Republicans, Independents, and even moderate Democrats. Unlike Graf, Bee has been endorsed by the district’s former Representative, Jim Kolbe, as well as Senators McCain and Kyl.

Meanwhile, Giffords has been preparing for a tough reelection ever since entering the Congress. Giffords’ fundraising is strong—over $1 million raised in 2007—and her votes on funding the Iraq War have helped to craft a moderate image, consistent with the district’s leanings. Because Arizona’s ”Resign-to-Run” law prevented Bee from entering the race before January, Giffords should be well prepared for a formidable opponent and ready to earn the seat she was given in 2006.

Candidates

Gabrielle Giffords (I) – Democrat – current Congresswoman
Website

Timothy Bee – Republican – state Senator
Website