U.S. Rep. Martha McSally got good news this week: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced its list of 31 targeted districts this year and McSally’s Congressional District 2 is not on it.
On top of that, national forecaster Larry Sabato updated his list of competitive races and moved CD2 from “toss-up” to “leans Republican.” That’s a few weeks after Stu Rothenberg moved the race from “lean Republican” to “Republican favored.”
CD2, which includes eastern Pima County and all of Cochise County, is basically one-third Democrat, one-third Republican and one-third independent, so it’s a competitive district on paper. But McSally, an Air Force veteran who has out-raised nearly every other member of Congress, is proving to be a formidable candidate, even though she unseated Democrat Ron Barber by just 167 votes.
McSally campaign spokesman Patrick Ptak said that the national Democratic Party machine is “giving up on re-taking her seat.”
“Congresswoman McSally hit the ground running from day one and continues to rack up achievements for her constituents that include successfully protecting the A-10 and getting a veterans jobs-bill signed into law,” Ptak said in a bulletin to reporters. “Given her impressive start and the Democrats' complete 180, it's clear they now consider her unbeatable.”
Good news for the freshman Republican is bad news for the two Democrats who are seeking the seat, former state lawmakers Victoria Steele and Matt Heinz.
The DCCC’s decision to steer clear from CD2 undoubtedly has a lot to do with money. McSally has a lot of it—she was sitting on about $2 million at the end of 2015—while the Democrats don’t. Heinz had raised a relatively respectable $400,000 and still had $300,000 on hand at the end of 2015, but Steele will need to step on the gas to get national Democrats to get engaged: She had raised just under $100,000 and had less than $44,000 in the bank.
And the cold hard reality of cold hard cash drives a lot the decisions made by the DCCC (as well as the National Republican Congressional Committee). They have limited resources and a big map—and at this point, they’re committing those funds elsewhere.
Steele campaign manager Keith Rosendahl downplayed the development.
"I don't think Southern Arizonan's care much about what national political operators are doing in Washington, D.C.,” he said. “The people that I meet with every day are interested in discussing how we are going to protect a woman's right to her own health choices, what can be done to create more stable jobs with living wages and the importance of protecting Social Security and Medicare for generations to come."