Money and Challengers, Oh My

A glance at the latest lay of the political landscape

Congresswoman Martha McSally continued to demonstrate her fundraising prowess last week, announcing she had raised nearly $750,000 in the first quarter of 2017.

"It's clear to Southern Arizonans that Rep. McSally has a standout ability to get things done and deliver results," said McSally campaign manager Anthony Barry. "She has successfully secured funding for the A-10, advanced key Southern Arizona infrastructure projects, led on national security and border issues, and passed the second highest number of bills in the House in the 114th Congress—to name a few of her accomplishments."

But McSally also spends money at a fast clip. McSally had only $630,000 in the bank at the end of the quarter for her 2018 campaign.

McSally's political opponents continue to focus on unseating the rising GOP star in the highly competitive Congressional District 2. New groups such as Indivisible Southern Arizona and McSally Take a Stand continue to hold regular demonstrations outside her midtown office. And last week, McSally took fire from both the right and the left in the form of TV ads targeting the GOP's stalled efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Save My Care, which is funded by Alliance for Healthcare Security (which is in turn funded by healthcare groups and labor unions), hit McSally with a TV ad highlighting provisions of the Affordable Care Act repeal legislation that crashed and burned in the House of Representatives last month. The ad criticized McSally for supporting legislation that raised premiums, particularly among Americans older than 50, and caused 24 million to lose health insurance (according to a Congressional Budget Office analysis).

Meanwhile, the conservative Club for Growth aired an ad accusing "professional politicians like Martha McSally" of "standing in the way" of an effort to resurrect the healthcare legislation.

Barry said the two ads "reveal what this all really about: politics as usual in Washington. Despite these attacks from all sides, McSally remains resolved and focused on being a constructive voice in the legislative fight for better health care for Southern Arizona, including the most vulnerable in our community." 

McSally is finding support from her political allies. Earlier this week, America First Policies, a political nonprofit aligned with Trump, announced plans to run TV and digital ads supporting her and other Republicans who supported Trump's efforts to push the House healthcare legislation that failed last month.

DJ Quinlan, spokesman for the Arizona Alliance for Healthcare Security, said the ads by America First Policies was another demonstration that McSally was aligned with Trump.

"McSally showed her true colors when she supported a bill that would take healthcare coverage away from 41,000 people in her own community," said Quinlan said in a prepared statement. "She has forgotten that she is supposed to be working for the people of Southern Arizona, not taking orders from Donald Trump."

Meanwhile, former Air Force fighter pilot Jeff Latas, a Democrat who lost a primary for an open congressional seat in 2006, launched an exploratory committee to weigh his chances against McSally, while earlier this week, Prep and Pastry cofounder and current Hotel Congress operations manager Billy Kovacs, who has never run for office, announced he wanted to challenge McSally. And former state lawmaker Victoria Steele, who sought to challenge McSally in 2016 but lost her Democratic primary to former state lawmaker Matt Heinz, is also considering another run in the district.

The other hot rumor in the district has former Arizona congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick relocating to Southern Arizona to challenge McSally. Kirkpatrick gave up her seat in Congressional District 1 to challenge U.S. Sen. John McCain last year.

In other political news: In this year's race to replace retiring Tucson City Councilwoman Karin Uhlich in Ward 3, Democrat Tom Tronsdal, who owns a local fencing company, has filed for matching funds for his campaign. To qualify for matching funds, candidates have to file at least 200 contributions of at least $10 from city residents. Filing for matching funds is generally considered a sign of solid campaign organization.

Tronsdal is facing two other Democrats, former Ward 6 council aide Paul Durham and teacher Felicia Chew, in the August Democratic primary. No Republican has yet entered the race for the open seat, but Libertarian Julian Mazza has filed to run.

Democrat Steve Kozachik, who has sworn off campaign fundraising as he seeks a third term representing midtown Ward 6, has picked up a Republican opponent, architect Mariano Rodriguez.

Candidates continue to make moves for 2018 as well. Last week, attorney Deedra Abboud, who founded and chaired the Arizona chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-AZ) announced her plans to seek the Democratic nomination to challenge U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake in 2018. Flake is also facing a challenge from the right in the form of former state lawmaker Kelli Ward, who lost a primary to Sen. John McCain last year.

Democrat David Garcia, an ASU education professor and former state Department of Education staffer who lost to State Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas in 2014, announced last week he was launching a challenge against Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey.

He is the second Democratic candidate to announce; the first was Noah Dyer, a political rookie who got national headlines, including a "scandal and controversy" page on his website that included the disclosures about his experiences with group sex and making sex tapes, as well as various financial difficulties.

State lawmaker Steve Farley, a Democrat who represents midtown Tucson, is also exploring a run for governor.

Former Tucson City Councilman Rodney Glassman, who ran as a Democrat against Sen. John McCain in 2010, is exploring a run for Arizona Corporation Commission as a Republican.

Republican state lawmaker Steve Montenegro is considering a 2018 primary challenge to Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan, who had been beset by blunders as Arizona's chief elections officer. On the Democratic side, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton and state lawmaker Katie Hobbs are weighing runs for Sec of State.

Earlier this week, David Schapira, a Tempe City Council member and former state lawmaker, announced his plans to run against Douglas for the job of Superintendent of Public Instruction. Douglas is also facing a challenge from Tracy Livingston, a school teacher who serves on the Maricopa Community College Governing Board who has previously served on the Peoria Unified School District Board..