Republican congressional candidate Gary Kiehne, a rough-around-the-edges rancher who is one of three candidates in the GOP primary that will decide who will face incumbent Democrat U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick this November, got national attention this week after he repeated a right-wing Internet myth about mass shooters and Democrats.
Becky Pallack of the Arizona Daily Star captured Kiehne's comment at a forum with fellow GOP candidate Adam Kwasman, who represents Oro Valley in the Arizona House of Representatives.
While discussing mass shootings, Kiehne alleged that "99 percent of them have been by Democrats pulling their guns out and shooting people. So I don't think you have a problem with the Republicans."
After the comment got widespread attention over the weekend via Politico, HuffPo, Talking Points Memo and other online sites, Kiehne apologized for getting his facts wrong. In a statement emailed to reporters on Monday, May 19, Kiehne said "the information that I based the comment off of was inaccurate and incorrect."
"Too many politicians today offer nothing but spin and excuses when they say something they shouldn't have," Kiehne said in the statement. "Simply put, I shouldn't have made the comment, and I want to offer my apology for making it without any reservations."
Arizona House Speaker Andy Tobin, one of the other two candidates in the Congressional District 1 race, called on Kiehne to quit the race.
"With his pattern of bizarre and deeply offensive remarks, Gary Kiehne has illustrated that he lacks the temperament, character and basic common sense to not only represent Arizona in Congress, but to even get elected," Tobin said in a prepared statement. "He should exit this race immediately and apologize in full for all of his remarks, not just some of them."
Although he didn't offer any examples, Tobin warned that Democrats could have taped statements by Kiehne that could hurt the GOP's chances of winning the CD1 seat in November.
"All of this raises the question: What other incendiary remarks has Mr. Kiehne made on tape that Democrats are waiting to release if he's the nominee?" Tobin asked. "If he somehow wins the nomination, Mr. Kiehne will not only ensure Ann Kirkpatrick's re-election, but he will be an anchor around the neck of every other Republican candidate in the state, from governor on down.
Kiehne rejected the idea of dropping out of the race and once again turned the focus on Tobin's record as a state lawmaker and recent press reports about Tobin's history of accepting gifts and free trips.
"Unlike Andy Tobin who, when caught red-handed violating state law in the Fiesta Bowl scandal, offered up nothing but weak excuses for his behavior, I've always believed that you should own up to your mistakes," Kiehne said in an email to reporters.
"I'm confident, that when given a choice, the voters would rather have a candidate with the integrity to admit he made a mistake, than a scandal-plagued, carpet bagging, political insider who to this day sees nothing wrong with taking an illegal out-of-state junket to a football game in the Fiesta Bowl scandal and even after getting caught continued to arrogantly take special interest freebies."
PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE WOMAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN
One of the sideshows that accompanied this week's Sunnyside School District recall election involved allegations that Pima County was somehow trying to rig the election.
The charges came from Pima County Supervisor Ally Miller, the Arizona Daily Independent blog, the usual collection of election-integrity activists and some supporters of the Sunnyside recall.
The recall gang accidently let slip a draft of a press release about concerns about the election process and the chain of custody of the ballots.
Here's where it kind of gets interesting. The author of the press release was Lori Hunnicutt, the publisher of the Arizona Daily Independent blog.
Hunnicutt clearly did not want her name associated with the press release.
"I can correct it but you need to send it out ... not with my name anywhere on it!" Hunnicutt wrote to Richard Hernandez, who has been organizing the recall effort.
It's a little odd to see someone with an "independent" news operation writing press releases for one side of the issue—especially when the "independent" news agency is covering the campaign without disclosing their efforts on one side of it.
Hunnicutt told The Skinny that she wasn't involved in the recall but did try to help with the press release.
"I am not involved in the recall. I write, and Richard is doing the best he can on a zero budget," she wrote via email. "I help out just about anyone who needs help having their voice be heard. .... And quite frankly I adore Richard. He is a good and brave man."