Outside spenders zeroing in on Congressional District 2 contest

2014-04-20T00:00:00Z 2014-05-27T14:19:27Z Outside spenders zeroing in on Congressional District 2 contestBy Joe Ferguson Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Over the course of a few days, a Beltway-based super PAC helped Martha McSally  raise $109,000 in campaign donations.

Records filed with the Federal Elections Commission last week show a joint fundraising committee known as Winning Women brought in dozens of deep-pocket donors willing to give the maximum amount to the presumed GOP nominee.

Although the maximum contribution is $2,600 for the primary election and another $2,600 for the general, a handful of donors went ahead and gave her the full $5,200 without waiting for her to actually win the four-way Republican primary, which is still six months away.

Deputy campaign director Kristen Douglas  said the retired Air Force colonel was hand-picked by the group, which was formed to support promising female candidates.

“Sometimes the best man for the job is a woman. That is why I fully intend on replacing Congressman Barber on Election Day,” McSally said.

Political action committees haven’t ignored the incumbent Democrat either, with Rep. Ron Barber  receiving support from a number of Democrat-controlled leadership PACs, union-affiliated groups and organizations that traditionally back Democrats, including left-leaning groups like the National Education Association and NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Both Barber and McSally saw significant donations since formally announcing their respective campaigns. Collectively, the pair have raised $2.8 million in campaign donations in this cycle. The other three Republicans in the race reported just slightly over $13,000 in contributions combined.

Slightly more than a third of money collected by the Congressional District 2 front-runners have come from political action groups, not individuals.

In the last three months alone, Barber has taken in $157,032 in donations to his re-election campaign from various groups.

A significant boost — $182,236 — came into McSally’s campaign coffers came from similar political groups supporting Republicans, including Rep. Paul Ryan’s Prosperity PAC.

Both Republicans and Democrats agree CD2 is one of the most politically competitive districts in the entire country, attracting significant investments from political parties as well as outside groups.

The expansive Congressional District 1, which spans from northwest Tucson to the Utah border, is also considered competitive, but fundraising lags behind.

The four candidates — three Republicans and an incumbent Democrat — raised a combined roughly $655,000 in donations in the last three months, with Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick leading the way, raising $321,881.

Republicans Andy Tobin raised $148,834, including money from a joint fundraising committee with McSally; Gary Kiehne raised $166,642 and Adam Kwasman raised $28,170.

In Congressional District 3, incumbent Raúl Grijalva raised more than $42,000 and has almost $110,000 in the bank, while his only announced Republican opposition, Gabriela Saucedo Mercer, is operating at a deficit.

The $2.8 million figure raised in CD2 also does not include more than a million dollars in political advertising poured into local airwaves. The ads largely focused on CD1 and CD2, although at least one campaign gave support to the third Democrat in the Arizona congressional delegation, CD9 Rep. Kyrsten Sinema. 

The LIBRE Initiative, for example, is expected to spend $700,000 on the series of issue ads attacking Democratic lawmakers over their continued support of the Affordable Care Act.

A similar ad, paid for by Americans for Prosperity, ran late last year attacking Barber and Kirkpatrick.

The House Majority PAC has reportedly spent more than $565,000 on “non-candidate issue ads” running in Tucson and the Phoenix markets since the beginning for the year.

Another PAC supporting Democrats, Center Forward, spent at least $270,000 on ads supporting Barber and Sinema earlier this year.

Contact reporter Joe Ferguson at jferguson@azstarnet.com or 573-4346. Follow him on Twitter@JoeFerguson

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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