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Political Buzz – 2012


Three congressional candidates in Southern Arizona are getting noticed by the national parties in Washington.

Congressional District 1Republican Jonathan Paton and Congressional District 2Republican Martha McSally have both been named “Young Guns” by the National Republican Congressional Committee.

That designation means that both Paton and McSally have reached certain benchmarks set out by the NRCC. Those goals include fundraising.

Meanwhile Congressional District 1 Democrat Ron Barber has been named a “Frontline” candidate by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. That group is actively fundraising for Barber on its web site.

The CD 1 and CD 2 races in Southern Arizona are both garnering plenty of national attention with both major parties spending money for advertising in the districts.

Your Vote 2012: The AZPM Election Center


Tucson Unified School District board members Miguel Cuevas and Mark Stegeman say pro-Mexican American Studies groups are violating their privacy by staging protests outside of both of the board members’ homes.

The two are asking the groups to be more civil, saying their positions as board members should not subject their homes and workplaces to such protests and what the two are calling harassment.

The Tucson Unified School Board voted in January to eliminate Mexican American Studies courses, after the state deemed the courses in violation of state law. If the district had continued offering the courses, it faced loss of some state funding for being in violation of the state law.

Since the decision to eliminate the courses, former MAS students and supporters of the program have protested the decision in a variety of ways, including chaining themselves to the dias during a scheduled board meeting, resulting in a delay of the meeting.

Cuevas says in a news release that this week, the groups showed up outside his home. In the news release, Cuevas says he lives with his grandparents and the protesters “terrified” his grandmother and his father had to return to the home to tell the protesters to leave.

A similar incident happened at Stegeman’s home, and he says it is not the first time. Last year protesters showed up and interrupted a course he was teaching at the University of Arizona, he says in the release. Stegeman is a member of the Economics faculty at the UA.

Stegeman was president of the school board for the first half of 2012, and Cuevas was voted board president after Stegeman stepped down from that post to return to being a regular board member.

Mexican American Studies Mark Stegeman Miguel Cuevas TUSD,


Gov. Jan Brewer is endorsing Jonathan Paton for U.S. House in Congressional District 1.

While Paton is familiar to Southern Arizonans from his run for congress in district 8 in 2010, he's got three other Republicans to beat before he would move on to the general election to face the winner of the Democratic primary.

She made the endorsement this week, writing, "As a State Senator, Jonathan was a leader in the fight for smaller government, less regulation and lower taxes. He provided a key vote in support of SB 1070, and he stands with Arizona in our fight for a safe and secure border. Like me, he is committed to a strong economy, quality job growth and better schools for our children."

Paton faces Republicans Patrick Gatti, Gaither Martin and Douglas Wade, and the latest campaign finance reports show he has out-fundraised all of them.

On the Democratic side, Ann Kirkpatrick seeks to win the seat back after losing it in the 2010 cycle, she faces Wenona Benally Baldenegro.

Wenona Benally Baldenegro Patrick Gatti Ann Kirkpatrick Jonathan Paton Gaither Martin Doug Wade Jan Brewer,


U.S. Rep. Ron Barber has been assigned to two Congressional committees his office says are important to Southern Arizona.

He'll serve on the House Armed Services Committee and the House Homeland Security Committee. Barber's predecessor, and former boss, Gabrielle Giffords also served on the Armed Services Committee before she resigned from office in January.

The assignments are one component of a busy week for Barber. He was sworn in to office Tuesday and later took his first vote on legislation, he spent the rest of the week working in Washington, and he's planning to hold his first public event in the district Saturday morning.

That event is a nod to the popular "Congress on Your Corner" meetings Giffords held, and is the first since the shooting Jan. 8, 2011 at an event with the same name.

Gabrielle Giffords Ron Barber,


Martha McSally, a Republican seeking election to the U.S. Congress in Southern Arizona, announced today she's accepted the resignation of campaign communications director Sam Stone.

Stone was recently accused of reaching out to help the campaign for Democrat Ron Barber before he won election against Republican Jesse Kelly. The story, first reported in Politico, is that Stone contacted a Barber campaign staffer at a public event days before the special election which Barber won.

According to the report, Stone offered advice on how Barber could beat Kelly earlier this month, but Stone denies that, saying only that he talked to Barber staffers and "exchanged pleasantries."

Today, McSally issued a statement on Stone's resignation, referring to staff conduct, but didn't directly reference the alleged contact with Barber's campaign.

"Members of my campaign team are representatives of who I am, what I stand for and why I am running for Congress," McSally said in the emailed statement.

"Because of that, my communications director, Sam Stone, has resigned his position with the campaign effective immediately. Sam was a valuable member of our campaign and helped us go from zero to 25% in just 68 days during the Special Election in April," McSally wrote. "We need to reform Washington and change who we send there. The people of Arizona deserve the best from its elected leaders and candidates, and I will give it to them."

McSally faces Mark Koskiniemi in the Republican Party primary in CD2.

Democrats Barber and Arizona Rep. Matt Heinz compete for their party's nomination.

The primary election is Aug. 28, and the winners from each party compete in the Nov. 6 general election for a two-year term in Congress.

CD2 Mark Koskiniemi Martha McSally Matt Heinz Ron Barber,


Democrat David Ruben is dropping out of the U.S. Senate race.

He was to be the only person running against Democrat Richard Carmona in the statewide primary, after former state Democratic Party chairman Don Bivens bowed out of the race earlier this year. Ruben makes no mention of his exit from the race on his campaign website, but told the Arizona Daily Star and the Arizona Republic he didn't think his signatures would hold up to a challenge.

That paves the way for Carmona to raise money and continue campaigning unopposed until the Republican primary Aug. 28 is decided. That primary is already contentious between U.S. Rep. Jeff Flake and businessman Wil Cardon. Two other Republicans join them on the ballot, Bryan Hackbarth and Clair Van Steenwyk.

Another potential ballot change comes in Congressional District 1, where Republican Jonathan Paton announced today he is challenging Republican Gaither Martin's signatures. Paton filed a lawsuit alleging Martin incorrectly filled out petition forms and that more than half of the signatures he gathered to qualify for the ballot are invalid, according to a news release from the Paton campaign.

If Paton's challenge to Martin's candidacy is successful, he will still face a primary election with Republicans Patrick Gatti and Douglas Wade in the large district that spans from Oro Valley and Marana in Southern Arizona, to the state's northern border with Utah, including the city of Flagstaff.

CD1 David Ruben Jonathan Paton Martin Gaither Richard Carmona,

About Political Buzz

News, commentary, analysis from the AZPM political team: Christopher Conover, Andrea Kelly, Michael Chihak.