Monday, September 28, 2009

Ann Kirkpatrick: The Election of a Lifetime

Ann Kirkpatrick (Democrat) is currently serving as a first term Congresswoman from AZ-01. It’s a well-accepted truism that first term representatives often face difficult reelection campaigns. But after being reelected once, representatives tend to hold on to their seats. Incumbency rates in House elections during the 21st century range from 94% to 98%, according to

The Federal Election Commission reports that as of June 30, 2009, Kirkpatrick had over $422,000 in cash on hand for her next campaign. This puts her head and shoulders and neck and torso above any challenger at this moment. Nonetheless, challengers are beginning to line up. The heavy hitters rumored to be eyeing the race on the Republican side are former Arizona state Senate Majority Leader Rusty Bowers and current state House member Bill Konopnicki. Bradley Beuchamp, former school teacher and lawyer, has a campaign website up and running, as does Paul Goser, Flagstaff dentist and former leader of the Flagstaff Citizens for Flouride Initiative. We have yet to see if any challengers will emerge from within the Democratic Party ranks.

This is a race to watch! The enormity of the district (greater than the size of Illinois or Pennsylvania) and the lack of a central media market make this a difficult district in which to run a campaign. The major question of this election is whether we’re looking at a repeat of 1994 when Republicans swept the mid-term elections and took momentum away from Democrats; or, are we looking at 2004 when Rick Renzi, first term representative from AZ-01, extended his 2002 win over a Democratic opponent by more than 50,000 additional votes and cemented his place in Congress for two more election cycles. If Kirkpatrick wins the 2010 race, she’ll represent AZ-01 for the next decade, at least.

We’ll track the exciting dynamics of this race and report them on High Altitude Politics throughout the election season.

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