The U.S. Senate race between Sen. Martha McSally and Democratic challenger Mark Kelly is promising to be one of the most lively—and most expensive—in the country this year, with control of the U.S. Senate hanging in the balance.
So far, Kelly is leading the polls. Last week, another survey from Arizona-based polling firm OH Predictive Insights showed McSally trailing Kelly by 9 percentage points, but most surveys have put the race closer and we'd still call it a toss-up, especially since the COVID-19 outbreak is already scrambling campaigning and—if it's still spreading by the time Election Day rolls around in November—it could have a big impact on who gets out to the polls. Nonetheless, it's hardly good news for McSally, who is only in the Senate because Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey appointed her to the office in 2018 to finish out the late John McCain's term after she became the first Republican to lose a Senate seat in Arizona in 30 years.
McSally is making herself as visible as she can as the COVID-19 outbreak paralyzes the nation's economy, but she's got two big liabilities: 1. She has a lousy record on healthcare, having repeatedly voted to repeal regulations that prevent insurance companies from discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions (which is true no matter how many times she says it's not), and 2. She remains tightly tied to President Donald Trump and has sidestepped numerous opportunities to criticize his handling of the outbreak, instead choosing to focus her ire on China. (There's a strategy there as Kelly has done consulting work in China in the past so Team McSally sees that as a weak point.)
Kelly is also clobbering McSally on the fundraising front. Last week, Team Kelly revealed the former NASA astronaut had raised more than $10 million in the first quarter of 2020. Meanwhile, Team McSally reported raising $6.2 million—a respectable haul, but far behind Kelly. At the end of March, McSally had raised nearly $19 million for her race and had $10.2 million in the bank, while Kelly raised more than $31 million and had nearly $20 million in the bank.
(Yes, McSally technically has a primary challenger in Republican Daniel McCarthy, but she has nothing to fear from the Makeup Eraser dude, who spent his campaign time last weekend shaking hands with people who are protesting Arizona's stay-at-home order. McCarthy raised a pathetic $26,364 from contributors for his quixotic campaign while loaning it nearly $210,000 that has been almost entirely spent, leaving him with just about $12,000 on hand as of March 31. Daniel, that's got to be the most wasteful $200,000 you've ever spent.)
Meanwhile, here's how the other federal races are shaping up in Southern Arizona based on campaign finance reports that cover activity through March 31:
• In Congressional District 1, which includes Oro Valley and Marana as well as much of rural eastern Arizona, Flagstaff and the Navajo reservation, incumbent Democrat Tom O'Halleran is facing a challenge in the Democratic primary from Eva Putzova, a former Flagstaff City Council member.
As to be expected, O'Halleran had a big fundraising edge over Putzova through the end of March. O'Halleran had raised more than $1.6 million for his campaign and still had more than a million bucks in the bank, while Putzova raised $186,533 and was down to roughly $40,000 in the bank.
This is one of the most competitive congressional districts in the country, but the Democrats have managed to hold it since it was created for the 2012 election cycle. This year, three Republicans are battling for the chance to be the party's nominee in November.
The presumptive favorite in the GOP contest is Tiffany Shedd, an attorney with a family farm in Eloy. But she has competition from first-time candidate and attorney Nolan Reidhead of Oro Valley, as well as political newcomer and veteran Doyel Shamley.
Shedd had raised more than $446,000, including $66,140 she lent the campaign. She had roughly $180,000 on hand at the end of the reporting period. Reidhead had raised just over $80,000, including more than $18,000 from his own pocket and a $15,000 loan he loaned the campaign, and ended the reporting period with about $30,000. Shamley, meanwhile, isn't exactly a powerhouse in the fundraising department; he'd raised a paltry $3,170, but he's been very frugal, having spent just $109.80, leaving him with $3,060 in the bank.
• Like AZ-01, Arizona's Congressional District 2—which includes Tucson, the Catalina Foothills and rural areas stretching into Cochise County—is also one of the most competitive in the country. Democrats won the district with Ron Barber in 2012, McSally took it for the Republicans in 2014 and 2016, and current incumbent Ann Kirkpatrick took it back for the Democrats in 2018. Kirkpatrick, who took a six-week leave of absence earlier this year to enter recovery for a drinking problem, is up against Democratic challenger Peter Quilter, an attorney who is making his first bid for public office.
Quilter told The Skinny he was motivated to run in part by Trump, but also because he believes the voters in Congressional District 2 want to see more from their representative.
"President Trump has embarrassed us, demeaned us and placed our Democracy in a kind of peril we have never seen before," Quilter said. "But it's not only him. It's our voters. Our voters in AZ-02 are hungry for their representative in Congress to do more than just manage constituent services and the status quo."
Kirkpatrick has raised more than $1.2 million for her campaign and had $690,000 at the end of the reporting period, while Quilter, whose campaign-finance report hadn't been uploaded as of our print deadline, told The Skinny that he'd raised more than $14,000 and had a little over $1,000 on hand.
Four candidates are vying the AZ-02 GOP primary: Brandon Martin, who came in second in the four-way 2018 primary; Joseph Morgan, who was briefly a conservative columnist for the Arizona Daily Star and a radio host and who now works at Pima College; Noran Eric Ruden, the owner of a local termite and pest control company; and Shay Stautz, a former lobbyist for the University of Arizona.
Stautz had raised more than $242,000, including roughly $137,000 in contributions and $105,000 he lent the campaign. Ruden had raised more than $235,000, but only about $27,000 came from contributors; Ruden had kicked in more than $108,000 in contributions and loaned the campaign another $100,000. He'd spent about $80,000, leaving him with $155,000 at the end of the reporting period. Martin had raised more than $98,000 without dipping into his own wallet and spent roughly three-fourths of that, leaving him with about $26,000 in the bank. And Morgan was bringing up the rear, having raised about $24,000. Morgan had spent most of that, having just about $1,100 in the bank as of March 31.
• In Congressional District 3, Congressman Raul Grijalva faces no primary opposition, but he does face a Republican Daniel Wood, a Marine veteran who is making his political debut. Grijalva, who rarely faces a serious challenge in his heavily Democratic district, had raised nearly $475,000 and had roughly $176,000 left in the bank at the end of March. The FEC had no campaign finance report for Wood.