The following post is an assessment of the potential Republican Primary candidates in Arizona’s Congressional District 5. In Nov 2006, Congressman J.D. Hayworth lost the seat in the General Election to Democratic State Senator, Harry Mitchell by a vote of 93,815 to 101,838. Currently, the voter registration stands at 87,394 Democrats to 139,057. It is almost guaranteed that the next congessman elected in Congressional District will be the winner of the Republican Primary in September, 2008.
GOP Candidate Assessment – Congressional District Five, Arizona
We’re still more than 16 months away from the next primary election and already Republican insiders are spinning at high speed regarding potential candidates in CD 5, which is currently held by Democrat Harry Mitchell. There has been a lot of chatter (including some wild accusations and downright misinformation) flying around Arizona-based blogs.
So, let’s review the list of potential candidates and some information about them in as straightforward a manner as we can. We’ll go alphabetical so as not to face accusations of favoring anyone.
Solid conservative with a stellar voting record on most counts. Although CD 5 has only a portion of LD 18, it is a portion in which Mark happens to live. Mark is very well respected by conservatives, but frustrates the more libertarian-leaning with his willingness to use government for social conservative outcomes. His membership in the Unification Church (better known as Moonies) could be a weakness because it is easy to shoot at someone’s religion when you don’t know much about it. A bigger weakness will be the money game. He has never had to raise more than $30K for his legislative races. A serious candidate will need to raise that much about every ten days.
General issues: Dems attack his religion and his hard-right voting record.
Susan has run twice for Congress and lost (first to Salmon, then to Flake). She is well-known in Scottsdale and well-respected. She currently serves on the Central Arizona Water District Board which manages the Central Arizona Project. Smart and savvy, her weakness in a Republican primary is her position on life – she is pro-choice.
General issues: Dems attack her as a has-been and for being a lobbyist. Strong social conservatives could take a pass, which would hurt.
Most insiders are saying that Hallman will not run. But, as a smart guy elected in the heart of CD 5, until he publicly says no, it’s a possibility.
General issues: Hallman would fare pretty well against Mitchell, however, he’d take heat for “abandoning” Tempe to run against one of it’s own.
Jeff is termed out for Corporation Commission so running for something makes sense. He is not known as a hard charging conservative, but takes whatever he is doing very seriously.
General issues: Dems try to make hay out of his votes on the Corp. Comm. Try to hit him on carpet-bagging.
Laura has the advantage of being a pro-life woman in a potential field of mostly men. While she lost her last race in the “Democrat sweep,” her loss was much more narrow than either Hayworth or Kyl within the confines of LD 17. She won nearly 30 precincts in LD 17, while Kyl won about 10 and Hayworth didn’t win any. That portends some potential strength in the middle of Mitchell’s base. With a 16 point Republican advantage in the district, she could capitalize on her name ID and goodwill within the district. As with most of the candidates, she has never had to raise the kind of money that will be required of this race. Major advantage is that she has represented the majority of the current CD 5 as a result of serving in the legislature during a round of redistricting.
General issues: Dems attack her as a two time loser. Overreach and come across looking mean for attacking a woman. Attack her for being pro-life.
Thanks to his role as a radio talk show host, Tom likely has the most name ID of anyone contemplating running. Of course, that can be a double-edged sword. Who knows if anyone has kept tapes of all the hours of radio Tom has down over the years. Some of his stuff has been over-the-top (as is necessary for radio entertainment) but he is a thoughtful guy who is very smart. He’s run and lost (in the same primary as Bitter-Smith) to Flake which may or may not play a factor. Downside, his dad is G. Gordon Liddy. Upside, his dad is G. Gordon Liddy. In the end, more upside (money), than downside. The unknown factor in this is that his mother is battling breast cancer and he has always put family first.
General issues: Dems dredge up some of the outlandish things Tom has said on the radio.
Relatively unknown (or forgotten) to most rank-and-file Republicans, Mike was a losing candidate to Doug Wead and Phil MacDonnell in 1992 primary in the old CD 6. (Wead went on to lose to Karen English in the general) Meyer has long wanted to run again, and he may see this as his best shot. He is involved in the health care industry, so he’ll be competent on those kinds of issues.
General issues: Dems attack Meyer for not favoring universal health care.
Sean is a long-time staffer of Congressman John Shadegg starting in 1994 as Shadegg’s campaign manager. One of the more experienced campaigners among the potential candidates, he will face the age-old issue of whether the manager can be the candidate. His major strengths will be his conservative credentials and his ability to raise money, which he has done with Shadegg for years. In addition to his campaign experience in Arizona, he has helped some major players including Pat Toomey (now Pres. of Club for Growth) who ran against Arlen Specter (PA) in a primary and Tom Coburn (OK), the most conservative member of the U.S. Senate. And, he would almost certainly have the support of Shadegg, who last cycle raised a whopping $900K for the NRCC (much of which was spent to defend Hayworth) and gave away another $300K to Republican candidates. Major weakness for Sean, zero name ID among the voters.
General issues: Dems attack Noble for being a right-wing nut who has worked for the likes of Shadegg, Coburn, Toomey and Munsil. They try to hit him for carpet-bagging.
Jim is well-known and well-liked with insiders. While his career has mostly been in Washington, D.C., he is a native Arizonan and hails from CD 5 where he attended high school and ASU. No question that he knows the inner-workings of Congress better than anyone else, but that will likely cut both ways in a primary. Voters want a competent Congressman (who, unlike Mitchell, can find the bathroom in less than three months) but primary voters will be wary of the insider status – particularly since his specialty has been the Appropriations Committee. He will likely be able to raise pretty good money and is rumored to have some of his own that he could put in if need be. However, he also has no name ID.
General issues: Dems try to claim that Ogsbury’s history with the appropriations committee and being a lobbyiest makes him a part of the “culture of corruption.”
Matt has told various insiders that he is not likely to run. However, if he did jump in, he’d have instant frontrunner status because of his name ID and ability to raise money. The other potential candidates are praying that he takes a pass.
General issues: Dems attack Salmon for being too partisan (forgetting that their guy was the Democrat Party Chairman) and for being a lobbyist for the same firm that employed Abramoff years earlier.
David, former State Legislator and current County Treasurer, has been running for this seat, in one way or another, since the day he lost to J.D. Hayworth in the primary in 1994. He is smart, ambitious and one of the hardest working people in politics. And his new bride is said to be just as motivated as he is, which is a huge deal in a Congressional race. He likely knows more detail about the district than anyone else, which demonstrates, to some degree, one of his weaknesses – he is a bit geeky, but in a charming way. He is a solid conservative (he actually ran to the right of Hayworth in 1994). Little known factoid: Sen. Karen Johnson was his assistant when he served as the Majority Whip in the state legislature.
General issues: Dems (and the New Times) attack Schweikert for his role in the LD 20 recount and for not releasing the ballots to the Senate. Dems have an universal heart attack when they realize they are taking the same position as Sen. Jack Harper.
That’s the potential field. Yes, I’m sure I’ve missed someone and there are probably others who no one has talked about yet. Here are my predictions on how this plays out.
Anderson – ultimately does not run. The money mountain is too daunting.
Bitter-Smith – a wild card, but I would guess she doesn’t run.
Hallman – decides the risk is a little steep when he can likely coast to re-election as Mayor of Tempe, therefore keeping him viable for future runs.
Hatch-Miller – if history is a guide, he’ll talk about it, mull it over, and decide against. He would also have to move (although I don’t think the whole carpet-bagger claim is much of an issue – just ask McCain, Franks and Renzi – who all moved into their districts to run).
Knaperek – strong likelihood that she runs. Timing seems to be right, and she has a unique set of strengths no one else has. If she can raise the money, she’s the one to beat.
Liddy – still young enough to seek office later. With a young family and a sick mother, probably decides against.
Meyer – probably runs because time does not stand still.
Noble – young family, has to move, no natural base of support. With Renzi’s trouble, Noble’s name has been floated by some insiders for CD 1 because he grew up in the White Mountains and is a Mormon – two potential advantages in that district. Likely doesn’t run.
Ogsbury – all signs point to a run for Jim. He is a thoughtful guy who wouldn’t take the steps he has already taken if he wasn’t very, very serious. And, real Arizona men wear bola ties – which Jim proudly does, so watch for a resurgence (which will make Sen. Jake Flake very happy.)
Salmon – doesn’t run.
Schweikert – it would take an act of God to keep David out of this race.
If my predictions play out, Knaperek and Schweikert battle for the conservative vote, and Ogsbury tries to gain a plurality with the rest. Meyer will be a small factor, but with three men and one woman, I’d give Knaperek the edge in that scenario.
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