Last week, former three-time World Series champion pitcher Curt Schilling indicated that he was considering running in an Arizona congressional district. This week, Mr. Schilling, who pitched for the Arizona Diamondbacks and attended high school and college in the state, said if he does run it will be against Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-Sedona) in the expansive 1st Congressional District that encompasses almost all of eastern Arizona.
Such a move would make sense. The 1st is politically marginal in that it voted for President Trump (48-47%) and has flipped between electing Democrats and Republicans to the House over the past 20 years. Additionally, Rep. O’Halleran has already drawn two Democratic primary opponents, the competition from which could potentially make for an even tighter general election campaign.
Phoenix-based OH Predictive Insights conducted their semi-regular survey of the Arizona electorate (8/13-14; 600 AZ likely general election voters) and again finds a close contest between appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R) and retired astronaut Mark Kelly (D) but, this time, the lead has changed. The OH data finds Mr. Kelly leading Sen. McSally for the first time, 46-41%, in what promises to be one of the most competitive Senate elections in the 2020 cycle.
Sophomore Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-Sedona) already has a Democratic primary opponent to his left, former Flagstaff City Councilwoman Eva Putzova, and now it appears he has one to his right. Former state Senator Barbara Maguire, who also served in the Arizona House of Representatives and is a self-described “conservative Democrat,” announced that she will run for Congress next year and attempt to deny Mr. O’Halleran re-nomination in the August 4th Democratic primary.
The winner can also expect a competitive general election as this is one of the 31 congressional districts to vote for both President Trump and elect a Democrat to the House.
Three-time World Series champion pitcher Curt Schilling confirms that he is considering entering an Arizona congressional race but does not yet specify the district. Mr. Schilling won the Most Valuable Player award in the 2001 World Series when his Arizona Diamondbacks defeated the New York Yankees to win the title. Most of his famous days, however, came when pitching for the Boston Red Sox.
Mr. Schilling, though born in Alaska, was raised in Arizona attending Phoenix metropolitan area elementary and secondary schools. If he were to run for the House, the most logical district would be the 1st, the expansive eastern Arizona politically marginal seat that Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-Sedona) currently represents. A Schilling candidacy would certainly draw national attention, and President Trump is already voicing his encouragement to the former MLB player to run.
President Trump has involved himself early in the Arizona Senate race with a public endorsement yesterday of appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R). Many Republicans believe a divisive primary that McSally came through in 2018 put her in a difficult position for the general election, and in large part is the reason she fell to now-Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D). Mr. Trump’s involvement in the race is designed to help unite the Republicans around McSally so that another counterproductive primary is avoided.
The Democrats, likewise, are coalescing around their leading candidate, retired astronaut Mark Kelly.
Phoenix-based pollster OH Predictive Insights released their latest data from their May 1-2 poll (600 AZ likely voters) where they queried the respondent universe about the impending Senate race between appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R) and retired astronaut Mark Kelly (D). Though we are more than a year before Arizona’s 2020 late August primary, the chances are strong that the aforementioned will be their respective party standard bearers.
According to the OH poll results, the early race again earns toss-up status. The sample breaks 45-44% in Sen. McSally’s favor, which is virtually identical with
the firm’s late February poll giving the incumbent a 46-44% edge.
Safford City Councilman Chris Taylor (R), late last week, announced a congressional challenge to sophomore Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-Sedona) in the competitive and expansive eastern Arizona 1st District. Mr. Taylor is an Afghan War veteran who is the founder of a non-profit organization that helps veterans and others recover from PTSD and addictions.
Democratic former Flagstaff City Councilwoman Eva Putzova is challenging Mr. O’Halleran in the Democratic primary. The Congressman defeated frequent Republican candidate Wendy Rogers, 54-46%, in November to win his first re-election campaign.
Late last year former Flagstaff City Councilmember Eva Putzova announced her Democratic primary challenge to two-term Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-Sedona). This early in the cycle, her campaign appears to be experiencing a weak beginning. Ms. Putzova’s first quarter filing is reported to show only $31,000 raised with just $20,000 cash-on-hand.
Dr. Hiral Tipirneni (D), who twice ran for Congress during the last election cycle in Arizona’s 8th District – once in the special election; once in the regular vote – announced that she is returning to the campaign trail but, this time, in a different venue. Dr. Tipirneni, who recorded just under 48% of the vote in the special and fell under 45% in the regular general against Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Peoria), is now setting her sights on Rep. David Schweikert (R-Fountain Hills) in the adjoining 6th District.
Recently, Rep. Schweikert has come under fire for allegedly using his federal office resources in support of his re-election campaign, a subject of which we may be hearing more soon. The Congressman was re-elected to a fifth term with 55% of the vote in November against a candidate who spent less than $400,000. The 6th, known as a Republican stronghold, is beginning to show trends of becoming more politically marginal. President Trump carried the seat 52-42% in 2016, but that was down substantially from Mitt Romney’s 59-39% margin in 2012.
A surprising announcement came from the Grand Canyon State yesterday afternoon as Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Phoenix) said that he will not run for the Senate next year. The move is a boon to Democrats, as Mr. Gallego acknowledged, because a tough late August primary would have made defeating Sen. Martha McSally (R) much more difficult.
Retired astronaut Mark Kelly now appears to have a clear shot at the Democratic nomination even at this early date, more than a year before the candidate filing deadline. Already raising $3 million for his statewide effort, Rep. Gallego saw that a primary confrontation with Mr. Kelly might well end in a loss for himself, which would mean the end of his congressional career. The Arizona Senate seat may have just moved to number one on the national Democratic target list.
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