In governor's race, Brewer endorses Smith, while Palin endorses Ducey
It was a big week for endorsements in the the Aug. 26 Republican primary for governor: Former Mesa mayor Scott Smith landed the support of Gov. Jan Brewer, while Arizona Treasurer and primary frontrunner Doug Ducey countered with the endorsement of none other than Sarah Palin, queen goddess of the right wing.
Brewer endorsed Smith at an event at the Chicago Cub's spring training facility in Mesa, which was considered one of Smith's big wins during his six years as mayor.
"Our next governor must tell Arizonans the truth about where we stand and be able to make the tough choices to move our state forward," Brewer said. "As mayor of Mesa, Scott Smith has proven he will be honest with Arizonans and bring people together to face our greatest challenges."
It's not all that surprising that Brewer endorsed Smith, although it is a bit perplexing that it came so late in the game and after early ballots had dropped. Smith is the only candidate in the race to support Brewer's controversial expansion of Medicaid to anyone below 133 percent of the federal poverty line, which was supported by the business community and the healthcare lobby because it went a long way toward ensuring that hospitals and clinics could remain open, but was opposed by many conservative Republicans because Obamacare.
Brewer's nod comes as some polls show Smith picking up steam—and as Team Ducey increasingly turns its firepower in his direction. Ducey and Smith have been trading accusations about their records in business in recent weeks. (See "Business Dispute," Tucson Weekly, Aug. 7.)
Team Ducey blunted some of the impact of Brewer's endorsement by releasing an endorsement of Ducey by Palin, who praised Ducey for believing in "private enterprise, the dignity of work, limited government and the possibilities of freedom," as well as the right to carry a gun and a strict opposition to abortion. "Right on," Palin wrote in a prepared statement.
The Palin endorsement tops a long list of supporters for Ducey, including former U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl; current U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz; Christian conservative and anti-gay, anti-abortion crusader Cathi Herrod; Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio; and former Arizona governors Fife Symington and Jane Dee Hull.
By comparison, Smith has the endorsement of a bunch of current and former mayors, as well as some county supervisors and former Maricopa County attorney Rick Romley.
In CD1 race, U.S. Chamber endorses Tobin, U.S. Rep. Schweikert endorses Kiehne, Malkin endorses Kwasman
In the three-way GOP primary to pick a nominee to challenge Democratic Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick in the sprawling Congressional District 1, all three candidates picked up high-profile endorsements in recent days.
• Arizona House Speaker Andy Tobin landed the endorsement of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce this week.
"In today's economy, it is critical that members of Congress provide strong support of free enterprise and leadership for policies that will return America to its full growth potential," U.S. Chamber National Political Director Rob Engstrom said in a prepared statement. "We're proud to stand with Andy Tobin .... Andy has a demonstrated record of promoting Arizona jobs, and in this race is the clear choice to lead on policies that will boost economic growth, create jobs and get our country back on track."
• State Rep. Adam Kwasman, last seen on the Colbert Report after he mistook a bus of laughing YMCA campers for sad refugee children, has landed the endorsement of conservative flamethrower Michelle Malkin, who said in a rather generic statement that Kwasman was "a state representative and economist by training who has a strong record on fiscal issues, the Second Amendment, education, life, and illegal immigration."
Kwasman also brought out his old pal Jesse Kelly, the hard-right, reality-challenged flamethrower who lost a 2010 congressional race to Gabby Giffords and 2012 special election to Ron Barber, to rally the troops last week up at the Oro Valley Country Club. Kelly undoubtedly still has fans up there, but given that he left town—twice!—after losing congressional races, he might not hold that much sway among voters who care about Southern Arizona.
• Rancher Gary Kiehne landed the endorsement of Phoenix Congressman David Schweikert, who called Kiehne "exactly the kind of conservative leader we need in Congress" in a prepared statement.
"As a businessman and rancher in Arizona's first congressional district, Gary understands the issues facing his district and our state," Schweikert added. "I'm confident that Gary will never waver in his commitment to stand up to the big-government liberals in Washington who want to continue to grow the size, cost, and reach of government."
It should be noted that Kiehne's political consultant, Chris Baker, also works for Schweikert.
Congressional District 1 is a mostly rural district along the eastern edge of the state that includes Oro Valley, Marana, Flagstaff and the Northern Arizona Native American reservations.
Meanwhile, in Southern Arizona's Congressional District 2 race, U.S. Rep. Ron Barber announced the endorsement of more than 100 educators over the weekend, including TUSD board members Adelita Grijalva, Kristel Foster and Cam Juarez; Sunnyside School Board President Daniel Hernandez (the former intern for Gabby Giffords who rushed to her side after she was shot on Jan. 8, 2011); and a collection of teachers and union activists.
"Ron is a passionate advocate for education, particularly STEM subjects," said John Fife, president of the Amphi Education Association. "Ron is working to make sure Southern Arizona has an educated workforce that will attract businesses while also ensuring our schools produce the next generation of innovators and job creators."
Barber's likely Republican opponent, Air Force veteran Martha McSally, announced she had been endorsed by the Arizona Restaurant Association.
"Our restaurateurs believe Martha McSally understands the critical needs of our industry in Arizona," said ARA President and CEO Steve Chucri. "Unlike many in Washington, she understands the need to work together to enable our business owners to grow and hire more workers—something Arizona desperately needs. Martha is an independent leader who would protect small businesses, fight government overreach, expand economic opportunity, and help create jobs across the state."