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Political Buzz – June 2012


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,


The political world is buzzing with the possible reemergence of Gabrielle Giffords on the political scene. According to The Hill newspaper and the Huffington Post, Giffords is getting ready to launch Gabby PAC in the coming months. That announcement came at a Washington, DC fundraiser featuring Giffords.

The former member of Congress reportedly may also have a spot on the program at the Democratic National Convention in August. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, the Democratic national chair, is one of Giffords closest friends. The convention will nominate President Obama for a second term. The President visited Giffords in the hospital last year after she was shot.

Before all of those events, Giffords will make an appearance at a get out the vote rally at the Rialto Theater in Tucson.


Republican Jesse Kelly’s statements in the 2010 congressional campaign have come back as a major attack point for Democrats in the race to fill the vacancy in CD8.

Kelly often said, in 2010, that he supported privatizing, phasing out, and eliminating Social Security and Medicare, but that he wanted to protect those receiving benefits already.

Democrat Ron Barber, his supporters from the party, and Political Action Committees have run and rerun those Kelly quotes this year, but a new one popped up today.

The House Majority PAC, a Democratic super PAC, is attacking Kelly in a new ad, using this quote from a 2010 campaign event:

“…And now she stands there with that smile and pretends to be some kind of hometown hero. She’s a hero of nothing,” Kelly says in the ad.

The narrator says the quote is from 2010, and the year is on the screen with a transcription of the quote as the viewer listens to Kelly say it.

John Ellinwood, Kelly’s campaign spokesman in 2010 and again this year, would only respond in a written statement.

“This race is about Ron Barber's support for ObamaCare and Obama's Cap-and-Trade energy tax and we will remain focused on the issues important to the families of Southern Arizona,” Ellinwood wrote.

What do you think of the ad? Watch it here:

Jesse Kelly CD8 Ron Barber,


I’ve been a political reporter for 20 years so election season is one of my favorite times on the calendar. But the Special Election for Congressional District 8 is different. Because not only do I get a front seat to the campaigns, but I also live in the district and the race appears to be a close one.

I am on the early voter list that means my ballot arrived weeks ago. I am not affiliated with either party so that means the postal worker who comes to my house six days a week has a hefty job. Nearly every delivery has at least one political mailer and often two or three. Some of those mailers tell me the foibles of Republican Jesse Kelly while other pieces tell me the problems with Democrat Ron Barber. Some of the mail is sent to my wife, another political independent, targeting what the campaigns determine to be womens’ issues. The mailers come from the campaigns, the state political parties, and even outside groups.

As a political reporter I think getting these mailers delivered right to my house are a great service. I don’t have to go any further than the curb to see the latest campaign messages. The staff at Arizona Public Media also brings mailers to our political team so we get to see them all.

The registration in CD 8 is split nearly in thirds between Republicans, Democrats, and third party/no party voters. Republicans enjoy a slight lead in registration but most political observers say it is the independents who will carry the day in CD 8. This weekend backed that up.

On Friday night, a nice man knocked on my door. He identified himself as from the Democratic Party and just wanted to remind me to vote. He had my name and address on a list and was working his way through the neighborhood. On Saturday, a nice woman with a Jesse Kelly sticker on her blouse pulled up to my house, with the same style list as the man the night before, also to make sure I voted. After a brief conversation, she got back in her car and drove away. She stopped a few houses down and knocked on the door. No doubt to make sure another one of my neighbors had voted.

I’ve lived in my neighborhood for four years but this is the first time I’ve received visits from a campaign worker, let alone drop ins from both parties, reminding me to vote. It looks like the campaigns are expecting a close race so don’t forget to vote.

CD 8 Jesse Kelly Ron Barber election,

About Political Buzz

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