The Skinny

Absolutely Unacceptable

There's no excuse for threatening to shoot U.S. Rep. Martha McSally

Think what you will about Congresswoman Martha McSally—and we've certainly been critical in these pages when it comes to some of her recent votes, including that atrocious health care reform—but there's no way that anyone should be threatening to kill her for doing her job.

But in recent days, TUSD campus monitor Steve Martan was charged in federal court with with threatening to murder McSally after he left phone messages on her office phone saying he wanted to shoot her. This is simply unacceptable.

While he's yet to be convicted of anything, Martan does not appear to be real smart about how he went about this alarming harassment. The Tucson Sentinel reported this week that Martan was busted after his phone number showed up on McSally's caller ID; in an interview with Sentinel editor and publisher Dylan Smith, Martan said he made the calls after drinking and he was sorry he did it.

This is an issue that hits home for us, given what happened on Jan. 8, 2011, to former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and 18 other people who were shot during Giffords' Congress on Your Corner event.

Or, as McSally district director C.J. Karamargin—who was working as a press aide to Giffords when Tucson's mass shooting went down—said in a statement to the press:

"Threatening to shoot a member of Congress between the eyes and stating that her days are numbered is sickening. It is especially sickening here in southeastern Arizona because we know, perhaps better than any congressional district in the country, what happens when threats of violence become acts of violence. The January 2011 shooting of Giffords was followed by a national discussion about the importance of civility and respectfulness in our public debates. The vicious threats made against Congresswoman McSally are a sobering reminder of just how important that discussion continues to be. We can disagree about issues and policies. We should have robust debates about the future of our country. But threats of violence cross a clear line."

Giffords herself weighed in on the incident.

"No matter where you live or what job you have, you have a right to feel safe in your community, at your workplace, and in your home," she said in a prepared statement. "The threats of violence made against Congresswoman McSally are reprehensible and deeply disturbing. Civil discourse and civic engagement are hallmarks of our democracy, but threats and intimidation should never be tolerated. It's up to all of us—especially those with the power to strengthen the laws that protect us—to work together and prevent violence from prevailing. I commend the FBI and local Tucson authorities for responding swiftly to these threats and for keeping our community safe."

Survey Says

New polling suggests that McSally is facing a serious drop in voter approval

A new pair of Public Policy Polling surveys suggest that Congresswoman Martha McSally may be in some trouble in highly competitive Congressional District 2.

A couple of caveats before we dig into the results: This is early in the cycle and polls, at their best, are a snapshot in time. And both surveys are from Public Policy Polling, which has given false hopes to Democrats in this part of the world and elsewhere on more than one occasion in recent years. (In fact, when we asked Team McSally campaign manager Anthony Barry about the surveys, he just sent back three links to PPP surveys that showed Hillary Clinton beating Donald Trump in Florida, North Carolina and several other "firewall" states—and we all know how that turned out.

All that said: The first survey of 628 Congressional District 2 voter done on May 8 on behalf of Save Our Care, an organization that is opposing the efforts to replace Obamacare with the GOP's alternative, shows that only 35 percent approved of McSally's job performance, while 56 percent disapproved. As a comparison, the survey showed that President Donald Trump has an unfavorable rating of 56 percent and a favorable rating of 40 percent.

When asked whom they'd vote for if the election were held today, 50 percent said they'd vote for a generic Democrat, while 43 percent said they'd vote for McSally.

At least some of the unhappiness appears to be coming from McSally's support for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, which may have become more popular in the district as Republicans have moved to dismantle it; 47 percent of those surveyed said they approved of the ACA, while 38 percent said they disapproved of it. When it comes to the GOP's proposed replacement, the American Health Care Act, only 30 percent approve of it, while 57 percent disapprove.

The second survey, conducted on behalf of Democrat Matt Heinz (who was clobbered by McSally by 14 percentage points in November 2016), has slightly better approval/disapproval numbers for McSally than the Save Our Care PPP survey (40 percent approval/53 percent disapproval) but also sets up both Heinz and former congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick—who is considering a move to Tucson to both be closer to her family and a possible run against McSally—in head-to-head matchups against McSally.

Both Heinz and Kirkpatrick has the support of 48 percent of those surveyed, while 44 percent said they'd vote for McSally.

Zona Politics with Jim Nintzel airs 6:30 p.m. Fridays on the Creative Tucson network, Cox Channel 20 and Comcast Channel 74. This week's guests are Pima County Supervisor Ramon Valadez and Andy Slavitt, the former head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid in the Obama administration.