Fresh on the heels of the signing of the $1.9 trillion COVID relief package, Arizona Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick announced last week she will not seek a sixth term in 2022.
The congresswoman represents Southern Arizona's District 2, which includes midtown Tucson, eastern Pima County and Cochise County.
Kirkpatrick, 70, was first elected in CD2 in 2018. She previously represented districts in Northern Arizona between 2008 and 2016. (She lost in the 2010 Tea Party wave and came back two years later after redistricting created a different district.) She left Congress in 2016 to unsuccessfully challenge the late Sen. John McCain and then relocated to Pima County to run for Congress.
Kirkpatrick also took a leave of absence last year to seek recovery for alcohol addiction.
Kirkpatrick's departure is sure to set off a scurry of potential candidates on both sides of the aisle but with redistricting on the horizon, the future boundaries of the district for the 2022 election cycle remain to be seen. Further clouding the water is the likely addition of a 10th congressional district, so who knows what the map will look like in Southern Arizona?
Nonetheless, open congressional seats don't come along that often and it's the great golden ring in local politics. Among the potential candidates:
• Pima County Supervisor Matt Heinz, who has run several times for a congressional seat (including a race against Kirkpatrick in 2018). Heinz has just won a seat on the Pima County Board of Supervisors, knocking out Ramon Valadez in the Democratic primary. If Heinz leaves the Board of Supervisors, maybe Ramon could get his old job back!
• Pima County Supervisor Steve Christy has long harbored ambitions for Congress. After the 2020 election, Christy is the only Republican left on the Board of Supes. Given his Trumpian approach to politics, he probably won't be building too many bridges with his Democratic colleagues, so all he can do is lose a lot of 4-1 and grumpily complain. If the other option is a congressional run, why wouldn't he jump ship? It's not like he needs the job. And if Christy quits the Pima County Board of Supervisors, maybe Ray Carroll, the former District 4 supervisor who is now serving as a Green Valley justice of the peace, could get his old job back!
It's like we're getting the band back together.
• Physician and state lawmaker Randy Friese is close to the team that sent Gabby Giffords, Ron Barber and Mark Kelly to D.C., which would give him a big boost if he decided he was ready for the big time.
• Tucson Mayor Regina Romero isn't going to challenge her patron, Congressman Raul Grijalva, and we hear Raul wants to see daughter Adelita (now doing double duty on the Pima County Board of Supervisors and the Tucson Unified School District Board) take the seat when he's ready to step down. Now that Democrats are back in the majority, Grijalva has hopes that much of his agenda on issues such as protecting the Grand Canyon, stopping the Rosemont Mine and passing some major immigration reform can actually get passed.
But if the maps are drawn just right, Romero could have a path to victory in a Democratic primary in a different district than Raul's Southern Arizona fiefdom. That said, the rumor that she is going to tapped for a deputy secretary spot in the Department of Housing and Urban Development got a lot more oxygen last week when Grijalva told radio host Bill Buckmaster that Romero was a top contender for the gig. That could be a great move for Romero, but quitting the mayor's job to take a DC job and then quitting that to return home a year later seems pretty hinky.
• Republican Joseph Morgan, a Trump true believer who spent a lot of time in the wake of last November's election delivering false prophecies of how Trump would defeat Biden through heretofore unknown laws granting him the power to seize a second term, came in third in the three-way GOP primary for CD2 in 2020, but still harbors congressional ambitions. Morgan said on social media last week that he was superior to the other candidates considering a run in 2022, but he hadn't made up his mind as to whether he'd run.
Let the games—and the fundraising—begin!