The National Republican Congressional Committee put some weight behind two Arizona candidates this week as part of their “Young Guns” program.
However, the lack of news about another Republican — Congressional District 1 candidate Andy Tobin — might signal a problem for the current state House speaker.
On Tuesday, the NRCC announced retired Air Force colonel and Republican Congressional District 2 candidate Martha McSally was a “contender” for the coveted Young Gun designation.
The NRCC also said Congressional District 1 candidate Gary Kiehne was “on the radar,” the first stage of the three-tiered program on the same day.
However, the Republican political committee was silent on Tobin — a rival to Kiehne — who has been “on the radar” since November.
The Young Guns program is open to any candidate who applies with the NRCC.
Daniel Scarpinato, the press secretary for the NRCC, said they don’t take sides in primaries.
“NRCC’s Young Guns program allows us to work with all Republican campaigns and ensure the eventual nominee is prepared to take on the Democrats in November,” Scarpinato said.
At least one of those metrics — campaign donations — might explain why McSally has advanced to “contender” status.
The CD2 candidate has raised $740,944 since launching her campaign, while Kiehne has raised $267,673, and Tobin has raised $235,120, according to records filed with the Federal Election Commission.
Kiehne put $105,000 of his own money into his campaign, demonstrating his ability to quickly raise funds in the competitive congressional district.
Tobin, 55, is likely to see thousands of dollars — if not more — come indirectly to support his campaign today, courtesy of a $500-a-plate private political fundraiser. House Speaker John Boehner is the honored guest.
The fundraiser will benefit a new political-action committee recently formed by Tobin and McSally.
Filings with the Federal Election Commission reveal relatively little about the “McSally Tobin Victory Committee.” Neither campaign returned calls seeking comment.
Scarpinato said the metrics the NRCC uses for each congressional district race vary, and noted the committee could promote other candidates to “contender” status at any time.
Carolyn Cox, the chair of the Pima County Republican Party, feels the fact that Tobin has not advanced in the program since November could be a sign that the campaign is struggling.
A spokesperson for the Kiehne campaign said they are pleased with getting on the NRCC’s radar, but are primarily focused on introducing the Northern Arizona candidate to CD1 residents.
Those concerned about whether Tobin’s age has anything to do with not advancing should know the term “Young Gun” may be a bit of a misnomer.
One of the candidates to receive the label from the NRCC back in 2012 was a Colorado Republican running for Congress named Joe Coors. He was 71 years old.