Billy Kovacs

Shortly after announcing he would run as a Democrat for the congressional seat held by U.S. Rep. Martha McSally, Billy Kovacs spent the next several hours explaining that he wasn’t a Republican.

Kovacs, the operations manager of Hotel Congress, stressed in a statement to the Arizona Daily Star that he had been a registered Democrat since 2008.

The Arizona Department of Motor Vehicles made a clerical error last year, he said, changing his registration in August, formally making him a Republican. Kovacs said he wasn’t aware of the issue until he was asked about his party registration by the Star.

“I am a registered Democrat,” he said.

“This error was part of a systemic-wide issue at the DMV that affected countless others in Southern Arizona last year. The secretary of state has corrected this error in my party affiliation.

“I am dismayed this happened to me as it did to countless others last year.”

The campaign has since turned over the document he submitted to the DMV, showing he indicated he was still a Democrat and did not want to change his party registration.

However, Kovacs wasn’t always a registered Democrat. He registered as a Republican in 2006, election records show.

He registered as a Democrat in October 2008, shortly before the election of President Barack Obama.

In his announcement Monday, Kovacs said he wanted to run for the Congressional District 2 seat because McSally, a Republican, has refused to stand up to President Trump.

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“Donald Trump and his administration’s policies and rhetoric are divisive, un-American and offensive. Congresswoman McSally is complicit, and her pledge to be an independent voice has turned out to be a false promise,” he said. “With her 100 percent support of President Trump’s agenda, she has proven herself to be nothing short of a rubber stamp for a president whose policies crush working and middle-class families in Southern Arizona.”

Kovacs has worked in Cochise County at his family’s vineyard in Pearce and cofounded Tucson eatery Prep and Pastry.

He joins a crowded field of Democrats who want to challenge McSally in the general election next year. Other candidates who have filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to run for CD2 include William Foster and Charlie Verdin.

Jeff Latas, who ran for the Democratic nomination for Congress in Southern Arizona in 2006, has also indicated he is considering a run for the seat.

Contact reporter Joe Ferguson at or 573-4197. On Twitter: @JoeFerguson


Joe has been with the Star for six years. He covers politics as well as the city of Tucson and other municipalities in Southern Arizona. He graduated from the UA and previously worked for the Arizona Daily Sun.