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WINGED VICTORY

The A-10 Warthog survived another near-death experience when U.S. Rep. Ron Barber, D-Ariz., pushed an amendment through the House Armed Services Committee that reversed an earlier plan to park the combat planes at the Air Force boneyard and keep them ready in case they might be needed someday.

During last week's markup of the National Defense Authorization Act, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon, R-Calif., pitched the idea of mothballing the A-10 but Barber—who serves on the Armed Services Committee—spearheaded an effort to pass an amendment that prevents the military from defunding the jet in fiscal year 2015. Barber's amendment passed the committee with the support of 25 Democrats and 16 Republicans.

Barber planned to meet with members of the Senate Armed Services Committee last week to push similar language in their legislation.

"We will continue this fight in the weeks to come," Barber said in a press release. "We will continue it together as a community in Tucson and I will continue to bring the fight to Washington alongside my colleagues in the House and Senate, Republican and Democrat alike."

Barber's likely GOP opponent, Republican Martha McSally, initially blasted Barber via a press release after McKeon's plan to mothball the A-10 emerged early in the week.

"It is unrealistic to say we are going to mothball this plane, stop the training pipeline, lose all the close air support capabilities, and then ever reverse that decision in the future," McSally said. "This latest attack on the A-10 is just more proof of why Southern Arizona needs new representation in Congress."

Barber spokeswoman Ashley Nash-Hahn said that Barber "has built a Tucson coalition of business leaders, military veterans, and Republican senators such as John McCain and Kelly Ayotte, who are working together to fight for the A-10."

"Martha McSally needs to stop treating this issue like a little chess move in her political campaign, and join with us to do the right thing for our national security and our local economy," Nash-Hahn said. "This should be bigger than politics."

After Barber's amendment passed, McSally adopted a less partisan tone.

"I am pleased to see House Armed Services Committee members join in the cause to save the A-10,"McSally said in an email to the Weekly. "Unfortunately, there remains a long-term threat to the A-10 and Davis-Monthan, which is leaving our national security, our troops and our local economy hanging in limbo."

BENGHAZI BUCKS

Arizona House Speaker Andy Tobin, a Republican from Paulden who is in a three-way primary for the chance to challenge Democratic U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick in Congressional District 1 this fall, got a little heat from one of his GOP opponents after he raised the specter of Benghazi in a fundraising email last week.

"Twenty months after the terrorist attacks on Benghazi, which left four Americans dead, the White House is still covering up vital information about what happened that night," Tobin wrote in the email. "If you remember, Barack Obama was in the midst of campaigning for re-election. Coincidence?"

The message went on to ask contributors to "donate what you can to my campaign!"

Politico noted that Tobin's pitch comes against the advice of House Select Committee on Benghazi Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., who told the gang on MSNBC's Morning Joe last week that he has "never sought to raise a single penny on the backs of four murdered Americans."

Rancher Gary Kiehne, who is one of the other two Republicans in the CD1 GOP primary, used the episode to once again portray Tobin as a career politician and claim the outsider image for himself.

"Is Tobin apologetic or contrite?" Kiehne wrote in his email. "Of course not. After all, this is a career politician who after getting caught up in the Fiesta Bowl scandal, refused to even think about paying the money back."

Tobin spokesman Craig Handzlik brushed off the controversy in an email to the Tucson Weekly.

"Arizonans and Americans will never get answers on this issue if Nancy Pelosi is speaker of the House again," Handzlik said. "This race will determine if that happens. Our campaign is committed to ensuring there is a check and balance on the Obama administration, which Ann Kirkpatrick is not providing."

State Rep. Adam Kwasman (R-LD11), the third Republican in the GOP's CD1 primary, said the Benghazi fundraising was not his biggest problem with Tobin's campaign.

"I'm far more concerned with Tobin's authorship of his own Obamacare expansion bill, his support for Common Core PARCC testing and the fact that he doesn't even live in CD1 than his tactic to fundraise off of the Benghazi tragedy," Kwasman said in an email.

In other CD1 news: Tobin announced that 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney is coming out for a fundraiser at the end of May. Romney endorsed Tobin last month.

CORRECTION

Last week's column reported that keeping a representative of the agricultural community on the Pima County Fair Commission was key to ensuring that the county receive tens of thousands of dollars from the Governor's Office in support of the fair. No such requirement exists. The Skinny regrets the error.

Find early and late-breaking Skinny at The Range, our daily dispatch at daily.tucsonweekly.com.

Jim Nintzel hosts AZ Illustrated Politics, which airs at 6:30 p.m. Fridays on KUAT Channel 6. The program repeats at 12:30 a.m. Saturday.

More by Jim Nintzel

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