Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Midterm Madness: Arizona's 1st Congressional District

(Charlie Cook is currently calling eight House races toss-ups for 2014. Seven of these are held by Democrats and only one by a Republican. Let's look at these races, starting with the Arizona 1st.)

Republican Paul Gosar represented this district going into the 2012 election. Due to redistricting, however, which made it slightly less friendly to the GOP, he chose to run in the Arizona 4th. Without an incumbent in 2012 the seat was considered a toss-up. Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick, who held the Arizona 1st from 2009 to 2011, ran against Republican Jonathan Paton. 

Kirkpatrick won the election on Nov. 6, 2012 with 48.8 percent of the vote compared to Paton's 45.1 percent. A Libertarian candidate Kim Allen got 6.1 percent. 

For 2014, Kirkpatrick is listed as one of seven early targets by the National Republican Congressional Committee, due to the fact that the district is among the seven most Republican districts currently held by Democrats. 

In 2012, Romney received 50 percent of the vote compared to Obama's 48 percent in the district.

From the Democratic side Kirkpatrick is a member of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's Frontline Program, which helps the most vulnerable incumbents. 

Kirkpatrick lost in a midterm election in 2010 and will likely be vulnerable again in the midterm in 2014. Charlie Cook notes that she benefited from a high Native American turnout in 2012 and a decent Hispanic turnout, and a relatively weak opponent in state Sen. Jonathan Paton. 

Although Kirkpatrick won by almost 4 percent, a Libertarian candidate got 6 percent, which could well have been the difference between winning and losing, though direct transfers from one candidate to another are not a given. 

 All things considered, particularly with a stronger Republican candidate, Kirkpatrick is extremely vulnerable. 

Interestingly, Roll Call noted this week that the list of Republican challengers is remarkably short. 

The only name emerging thus far is Adam Kwasman, a 30-year-old freshman state legislator who Republicans fear lacks the experience to win. 
So why are no other names emerging? Kirkpatrick, a perennially strong fundraiser, is among several incumbent Democrats who have already raised more than $300,000 early in the election cycle, putting any challenger in catch-up mode. 

Another issue that could work against Republicans is that Arizona has a very pronounced tea party-vs.-the establishment divide. The GOP would like you to think these factions can play nice to beat a Democratic, but it's never been that easy

One to watch. 

(Cross-posted at Phantom Public.)

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