Former Major League Baseball pitcher Curt Schilling, who had been speculating that he might enter the 1st District Republican primary in order to challenge Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-Sedona) in the general election, has now ruled out becoming a candidate. Though he indicated two weeks ago that he was leaning toward running, comments he made over the weekend about being interested in managing or coaching at the major league level was a clue that he had already made up his mind not to run.
Already, four Republicans are in the race: Safford City Councilman Chris Taylor, Williams Mayor John Moore, attorney and 2018 congressional candidate Tiffany Shedd, and attorney Nolan Reidhead. Mr. O’Halleran also faces two formerly elected Democrats in his primary, ex-state Sen. Barbara McGuire and former Flagstaff City Councilwoman Eva Putzova. The 1st District is politically marginal and one of 31 Democratic seats that voted for President Trump in 2016.
Attorney Nolan Reidhead became the fourth Republican to declare his candidacy in the swing and expansive 1st District located in eastern Arizona. All eyes, however, are actually on former Major League Baseball pitcher Curt Schilling (R) who has confirmed that he is considering the race. While he made public comments two weeks ago suggesting his entry into the race was imminent, he is also now reportedly telling baseball officials and insiders that he would like to get back into the game either as a manager or coach. Therefore, his status remains fluid.
In addition to Mr. Reidhead, Safford City Councilman Chris Taylor, attorney and former congressional candidate Tiffany Shedd, and Williams Mayor John Moore are announced GOP candidates. Former state Senator Barbara McGuire and ex-Flagstaff City Councilwoman Eva Putzova are challenging Rep. O’Halleran in the Democratic primary.
Both Sen. Martha McSally (R) and retired astronaut Mark Kelly (D) released their 3rd Quarter financial numbers yesterday. The two went 1-2 last quarter in terms of money raised, and it appears they may do so again for the current financial disclosure period. Mr. Kelly reports campaign receipts of over $5.5 million, with a cash-on-hand figure of $9.5 million. Sen. McSally pulled in just over $3 million and has $5.6 million in the bank. These are astonishing large numbers this early in a smaller domain. Texas Sen. John Cornyn (R) is reporting similar results, but his state is four times the size of Arizona, thus putting both Kelly’s and McSally’s fundraising prowess into perspective.
Change Research also tested the tight Arizona Senate campaign (9/27-28; 856 AZ likely voters; 396 AZ likely Democratic primary voters) and, like three other pollsters who have tracked this race in 2019, finds a statistical tie. Change projects retired astronaut Mark Kelly (D) to be leading appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R), 47-45%, which is consistent with five other polls conducted throughout the year. Four of the previous five found margins of 0 to 2 percentage point separation, while only one, the OH Predictive Insights August poll, found a five-point Kelly advantage. We can expect this race to remain in toss-up mode all the way to Election Day 2020.
Change Research, Emerson College, and the Public Policy Institute of California tested three major states for the Democratic presidential primaries and found razor thin margins in two. The exception, Arizona (Change Research; 9/27-28; 396 AZ likely Democratic primary voters), finds Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) topping the field with 35% support, followed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) with 19%, former Vice President Joe Biden’s 15%, and Mayor Pete Buttigieg recording a 13% preference figure. According to these numbers, Arizona is one of Mr. Biden’s weakest states while Mr. Buttigieg returns to double digits.
The two others are virtual three-way ties. The Public Policy Institute of California (9/16-25; 692 CA likely Democratic primary voters) sees Sen. Warren barely in first place with 23% of the responding sample, compared to Mr. Biden’s 22%, and Sen. Sanders’ 21%. The result portends another disappointing performance for Sen. Kamala Harris in her own state as she records only 8% support.
Little polling has been done in Ohio, but Emerson College reversed the trend and just completed a test of the Buckeye State Democratic electorate (9/29-10/2; 353 OH likely Democratic primary voters). They also find a close contest with Mr. Biden claiming first place with 29%, and Sens. Sanders and Warren nipping at his heels with 27 and 21% preference factors.
A new Democratic poll, from the Bendixen & Amandi International firm for the Arizona Sheet Metal Workers union (9/9-12; 520 AZ registered voters), again produces similar results to previously published data. The Bendixen data finds appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R) and retired astronaut Mark Kelly (D) tied at 42% apiece. Clearly, this campaign is going to be a premier national US Senate contest with both candidates raising millions of dollars and seeing no more than a point or two separating them from its inception.
The Republican leadership in at least four states is moving toward canceling their primary or caucus, and instead simply awarding all of their delegate votes to President Trump. The states seriously weighing the option include two of the “First Four,” South Carolina and Nevada, the electorates from which are scheduled to vote in February. Kansas and Arizona are the other two states. Others could then follow their lead.
This act is not particularly unusual. Several states in both parties have previously canceled primaries when their party held the Presidency. Such happened for Presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama. The leaders argue that party funds spent to help administer the primary election or caucus meetings would be better spent in the general election to support their candidates.
Skincare company CEO Daniel McCarthy (R) earlier this week announced that he will challenge appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R) for the Republican nomination in next year’s August 4th Arizona primary. Mr. McCarthy, a Trump campaign activist, is planning to attack McSally from the right. It is presumed he has the ability to self-fund.
Ms. McSally had trouble with the late 2018 Arizona primary, which was scheduled three weeks later than the 2020 version, and many believed the rough intra-party campaign contributed to her general election defeat at the hands of then-Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D). It remains to be seen if this challenge will develop but, in preparing for a race against retired astronaut Mark Kelly (D), it would no doubt help Sen. McSally to become a consensus candidate.
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.
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