All’s fair in love, war and politics and the gloves are off in the Congressional District 2 race, at least in the seven-way fight for the Democratic nomination next month.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee put its thumb on the scale last week when it partnered with former Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick’s campaign on a television ad touting her opposition to GOP tax cuts and cuts to public health programs.
The ad cements the worst kept secret in local political circles, that national groups including the DCCC were ready to support the former Flagstaff Democrat in her bid for Martha McSally’s seat here in Tucson.
It isn’t news that the group whose primary mission is to back Democratic House candidates is involved in CD2 — they’ve been active in years past —but picking Kirkpatrick nearly two months before the primary is unusual.
It isn’t unheard of, though, as the DCCC has backed a handful of candidates across the country ahead of the primary.
One of Kirkpatrick’s rivals — emergency room physician Matt Heinz — says the DCCC’s decision amounts to trying to buy an election.
“When will the Kirkpatrick campaign learn that you can’t buy Southern Arizona?” said Heinz campaign manager Brian Robinson. “You’d think by now Ann would realize that voters want authentic representation, not a career politician backed by D.C. insiders.”
Heinz recently financially backed a failed court challenge that asked a Maricopa County judge to weigh in on whether Kirkpatrick had misled residents on nomination paperwork that stated she lived in Tucson.
Questions about Heinz’s donor list
Every viable campaign has a little black book of donors.
In a red state like Arizona, keeping a long list of names of people willing to back Democrats is a little harder, which has spawned many strategies from ground-up grassroots approaches to swapping or even buying lists from other races.
The one thing that the Federal Election Commission does not allow, however, is to swipe names and addresses from your political rival and hit them up for cash.
Members of Ann Kirkpatrick’s campaign team have accused the Heinz campaign of doing just that, asking why vital donors, as well as family members of campaign workers, got a letter from former Sen. Dennis DeConcini asking them to donate to the doctor’s campaign.
Heinz campaign manager Brian Robinson shrugged off the suggestion, saying that the campaign used a number of strategies to build its donor list, including using names that the Heinz campaign got in 2014 when it swapped records with Kirkpatrick’s Senate campaign.
Rodd McLeod, a spokesman for the Kirkpatrick campaign, said that statement doesn’t hold up, as some donors contacted would not have been part of any list, including the 2014 donor sheet.
Looking for a CD2 GOP debate? So are we
In the next month, the seven men and women vying to be the Democratic nominee in Congressional District 2 will participate in at least three debates.
The details are still being sorted out, but they include a forum organized by the Pima County Nucleus Club, Moms Demand Action and Represent Me AZ.
Another is still in the planning stages, to be held in Cochise County. This follows at least four debates that most of the Democrats have participated in since the beginning of the year.
How many have been planned for the four Republicans vying for the CD2 GOP nomination in the next month?
Yep. I said it. A goose egg. Zip. Zilch. Nada.
One campaign said there is a debate planned for Aug. 23 — just a few days before the primary and weeks after early ballots have been sent out.