The Fix: Arizona

Mark Kelly: Arizona Democrats' dream candidate

Mark Kelly: Arizona Democrats' dream candidate

When Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was critically wounded during an assassination attempt in January 2011, the future of the Arizona Democratic Party's statewide ambitions was put on hold.

Despite Democrats' argument that the state is shifting toward them politically, they still haven't been able to break through in offices other than the U.S. House. Today, Arizona Democrats hold not one statewide office.

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8 Senate candidates whose third quarter reports matter

All eyes in the political world are fixed on tonight’s debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney. But elsewhere, House and Senate candidates are feverishly tallying their fundraising numbers.

The third quarter — the last full quarter before the November election — came to a close at midnight Monday, which means we’ll soon know who raised how much for the stretch run of the 2012 campaign.

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The almost-competitiveness of Arizona and Pennsylvania

The almost-competitiveness of Arizona and Pennsylvania

We’re getting to that point in the presidential campaign when we start second-guessing ourselves about which swing states are, well, swing states.

Just this week, Democrats have started whispering (again) that they might try to expand the map by pursuing red-leaning Arizona, and Mitt Romney said Friday that he expects to win in a blue-leaning state, Pennsylvania.

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Gabrielle Giffords launches Gabby PAC

Gabrielle Giffords launches Gabby PAC

Updated at 3:01 p.m. with comment from Grayson.

Former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and husband Mark Kelly are staying in the political game, launching a new political action committee.

Giffords, who survived a January 2011 assassination attempt that left her with years of rehabilitation ahead, resigned her seat earlier this year but left open the possibility of a return to politics. With the new PAC, dubbed “Gabby PAC,” she allows herself to continue to be a part of the process.

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GOP Senate primaries see businessmen making real strides

Senate Republicans’ slate of candidates this November could have a significant business flavor.

Self-funded businessmen are surging in three key GOP primaries right now in Arizona, Missouri and Wisconsin, and all three appear to have a good shot next month of beating better-known Republicans who have held high-level elected offices.

St. Louis area manufacturing executive John Brunner meets with supporters after announcing his candidacy for U.S. Senate, Oct. 3, 2011, in St. Charles, Mo. Brunner is one of a few Republican businessmen who could win their party’s Senate nomination this fall. (Jeff Roberson — Associated Press)

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The Supreme Court, immigration, and Democrats’ chances in Arizona

Monday’s ruling on Arizona’s controversial immigration law represented a split decision that confused many and was both hailed and lamented by Republicans and Democrats.
Rep. Jeff Flake talks about Mitt Romney's performance following the Arizona Republican Presidential Debate the Mesa Arts Center on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012. (Charlie Leight/The Arizona Republic)

As the two parties wrestle over what it means for national politics, it’s also worth examining the influence (if any) the decision will have on Arizona politics.

Democrats have talked a big game about winning Arizona at the presidential and Senate level, where Sen. Jon Kyl’s (R-Ariz.) retirement has left an open seat this year. Most of that talk holds that the controversy over the Arizona law — also known as “SB1070” — and Obama’s movement on immigration will lead to increased Latino turnout in a 30 percent Hispanic state.

But an equally valid line of argument maintains that the Arizona law, which Republicans have spear-headed, is broadly popular. And as long as the immigration issue is front-and-center, that’s good for the GOP.

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The super PAC election? Not quite

To read the news coverage of late, you could be forgiven for thinking that we’re headed into a campaign in which super PACs will determine the winner. Ten million dollars from Sheldon Adelson here, $1 million from Bill Maher there, and it’s easy to conclude that these new organizations will have the biggest say in the identity of the next president and control of Congress.

But it’s not quite so simple.

In fact, the realities of campaign advertising today still put a premium on candidates themselves — and specifically, on their fundraising.

Comedian Stephen Colbert was given the go-ahead from the FEC last year to launch a super PAC to raise unlimited amounts of campaign cash for the upcoming 2012 political season. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

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Former Giffords aide Ron Barber wins special election for her seat

Democrat Ron Barber, a former aide to Gabrielle Giffords who was injured in the shooting that nearly took the ex-Arizona congresswoman’s life, won the special election to replace her on Tuesday.

With 66 percent of precincts reporting, Barber led Republican Jesse Kelly 53 percent to 45 percent. The AP has called the race for Barber.

The contest was the last congressional special election before November’s general election, leaving both sides to mine the results for clues about what might work in November and who might have momentum on their side.
From left, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Ron Barber and Mark Kelly, Giffords' husband, enter the polling place at St. Cyril's Catholic Church in Tucson, Ariz. Tuesday morning. (AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, Tom Tingle) (Tom Tingle - AP)

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The Gabby Giffords special election, and the limits of the sympathy vote

Voters will head to the polls Tuesday in southeastern Arizona to fill former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’s (D-Ariz.) seat just more than 17 months after she survived an assassination attempt.

Gabrielle Giffords, right, hasn’t been much of an issue in the special election for her old seat. Her former district director, Ron Barber, left, is the Democratic nominee in that race. (Matt York/Reuters)
But while the outpouring of sympathy from that event dominated the news, it’s not expected to play a major role in Tuesday’s results.

Giffords’s Republican-leaning district looks to be neck and neck down the stretch, with neither side ready to predict victory. And both Democrats and Republicans agree that the shooting – in which Democratic nominee and former Giffords aide Ron Barber was also injured – has little to do with the ballots voters are casting.

“There is a group of people extremely dedicated to Gabby who will do anything for her,” said one Arizona Democratic strategist, granted anonymity to discuss a sensitive topic. “But I haven’t seen much evidence that the persuadable universe of folks Barber needs to win are going to be swayed by the shooting.”

Another Democratic strategist put it more bluntly: “Sympathy doesn’t win elections.”

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Jesse Kelly wins GOP nod for Giffords special election

Iraq veteran Jesse Kelly won the Republican nomination in the special election for former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’s (D-Ariz.) seat on Tuesday and will face former Giffords aide Ron Barber (D) in the June 12 race.

Kelly, who fell to Giffords by about 4,000 votes in 2010, turned aside a field of opponents that included state Sen. Frank Antenori, broadcaster Dave Sitton and former Air Force pilot Martha McSally.

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Democrats look to stretch the Senate map in Arizona and Indiana

Senate Democrats looking to expand the 2012 Senate playing field have gotten a boost in recent weeks, with Sen. Richard Lugar’s (R-Ind.)
Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking member Richard Lugar (R-Ind.). (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
problems snowballing and today in Arizona when the primary field cleared for former U.S. surgeon general Richard Carmona.

The Indiana and Arizona races stand out as the two second-tier targets for Democrats this year — after top-targeted seats in Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada — and if they can push them on to the playing field, it will be much harder for Republicans to secure a majority in November’s election.

But just how competitive are those two states?

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Bivens to drop out of Arizona Senate race

Updated at 11:29 a.m. with Bivens’s statement.

Former Arizona Democratic Party chairman Don Bivens is dropping out of the state’s open Senate race, leaving former U.S. surgeon general Richard Carmona a clear Democratic primary.

“The continuing head-to-head competition of our Democratic primary is draining resources that we will need as a party to win the U.S. Senate race in November,” Bivens said in a statement. “While I am confident we would win this primary, the cost and impact on the party I’ve spent my life fighting for could diminish our chance to achieve the ultimate goal: winning in November.”

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Memo to Republicans: Ignore Ron Paul at your peril

Memo to Republicans: Ignore Ron Paul at your peril

Ron Paul isn’t a major factor in either the Arizona or Michigan primaries tonight — he gave his “victory” speech before the polls in either state closed — but a look inside the exit polling in the Wolverine State makes clear why the Texas Congressman remains a relevant factor in the presidential race.

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Why Mitt Romney’s Arizona win matters

Why Mitt Romney’s Arizona win matters

Michigan’s too-close-to-call primary is getting all the headlines tonight but Mitt Romney’s clear victory in Arizona shouldn’t be underestimated.

Why? Because Arizona is a winner-take-all state, meaning that Romney claims all 29 of the state’s delegates with the win. No matter what happens in Michigan neither Santorum nor Romney will come close to winning that many delegates.

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Michigan, Arizona primaries: The Fix Prediction Contest!

Voters are voting! Michigan and Arizona hold their presidential primaries today, the tenth and eleventh states to do so in the Republican presidential race this year.

ROYAL OAK, MI - FEBRUARY 27: Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (L) greets musician Kid Rock during a campaign rally at the Royal Oak Theatre on February 27, 2012 in Royal Oak, Michigan. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Don’t live in Arizona or Michigan but still want to have some skin in the game? Welcome to our Fix Prediction Contest — where you pick the winners and, if you’re right, get an official Fix t-shirt. It’s like gambling but with t-shirts.

In the comments section below, predict the order of finish — with percentages! — for former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum in Michigan and Arizona. As a tiebreaker, offer your prediction for total turnout in Michigan.

Most polls close in Michigan at 8 p.m. eastern time so any predictions made after that time won’t be considered. And you must — let me emphasize must — offer your prediction in the comments section below to be eligible. Predictions sent via email, Twitter and Facebook will not count.

Predict away!

Arizona Republican debate: Winners and losers

Through the first four contests in the GOP presidential race, there were more than 20 debates. For the next 14 contests (at least), there will be only one debate.

That debate was held Wednesday night in Arizona, and its impact on the GOP presidential race will become clear in the days ahead.

Here’s our snapshot of the debate, presented as usual in the form of winners and losers:


* Ron Paul: Who knew the Texas congressman was such an attack dog? While we’ve seen flashes of it in previous debates, he really went after Rick Santorum on Wednesday and got himself plenty of camera time in the process.

The takeaway if you were seeing Paul for the first time: ‘I’m not a politician like these guys. I’m principled.’ He used Santorum as a counter-balance in that effort, and it worked.

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Romney and Paul successfully call Santorum’s conservatism into question

Rick Santorum’s front-runner status in the GOP presidential race is predicated on the idea that he is the consistent conservative alternative in the field.

And that image had some serious holes poked in it at Wednesday’s debate in Arizona.

Mitt Romney and Ron Paul tag-teamed the former Pennsylvania senator much of the night, calling into question his conservatism on issues ranging from earmarks and fiscal policy to his endorsements and even what is often considered Santorum’s most solidly conservative credential — social issues.

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Arizona Republican debate: What to watch for

It’s the last debate before Super Tuesday and perhaps the last debate of the 2012 GOP presidential race.

And there’s a lot at stake. A whole lot.

We’ll be doing a blow-by-blow live blog of the debate starting after 7 p.m. Eastern time (the debate starts at 8 p.m. on CNN).
Republican presidential candidates (L-R) former House speaker Newt Gingrich, former senator Rick Santorum and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney greet each other at the start of a debate sponsored by CNN at the University North Florida on Jan. 26, 2012 in Jacksonville, Florida. Tonight’s debate is the first since then. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

For now, though, here are some storylines to watch:

* Rick Santorum, center stage

Santorum emerged as a frontrunner more than two weeks ago. This is the first debate since then, which means that, for the first time in this entire presidential race, Santorum will no longer be a bit player on the debate stage.

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New poll shows Mitt Romney safe in Arizona, tied in Michigan

Mitt Romney may not be in much trouble in Arizona after all, according to a new poll from NBC News and Marist College, but he’s still got a dogfight in Michigan.

The new NBC/Marist polls in both of the states holding primaries on Feb. 28 show Romney leading Rick Santorum 43 percent to 27 percent in Arizona and 37 percent to 35 percent in Michigan — a margin that falls within the margin of error.

The new polls paint a much brighter picture for Romney than previous polling.

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Why the Arizona debate matters — a lot

Forget March 6; the new Super Tuesday is Feb. 28.

And if Super Tuesday is now Feb. 28, tonight’s debate in Arizona might as well be called Super Wednesday.

New polling shows not only is Mitt Romney’s win in Michigan in serious jeopardy, but so is his edge in Arizona’s primary the same day.
Mitt Romney applauds a 95 year-old World War II veteran during a town hall meeting campaign stop at Eagle Manufacturing Corporation Tuesday in Shelby Township, Mich. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

The CNN/Time/Opinion Research poll out Tuesday showed Romney leading Rick Santorum within the margin of error, 36 percent to 32 percent.

It all makes the stakes for tonight’s debate in Phoenix about as high as they could be for the erstwhile frontrunner.

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Arizona recall: Why Russell Pearce lost

Arizona recall: Why Russell Pearce lost

Most coverage of Tuesday’s night’s recall of state Senate President Russell Pearce (R) in Mesa, Arizona has focused on the fact that Russell authored the state’s controversial immigration legislation.

Pearce was defeated by Republican Jerry Lewis, a charter school executive, in a Republican primary that many may see as a referendum on a harsh immigration law similar to the one signed by Gov. Jan Brewer (R) and challenged by the Obama administration in the courts.

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Arizona Democrats threaten recall elections over redistricting

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) and the GOP-controlled state Senate on Tuesday removed the chairwoman of the state’s bipartisan redistricting commission, after the commission drafted a map that Republicans say favors Democrats.

In response, Democrats are threatening to launch recall efforts against four moderate Republican state senators who gave the GOP the two-thirds majority it needed to execute the move.
Arizona state Senate President Russell Pearce (R) faces a recall election next week, and Democrats are threatening to recall four other GOP state senators after Republicans impeached the chairwoman of the state’s bipartisan redistricting commission Tuesday. (REUTERS/Joshua Lott)

Echoes of public-employee union fights in Wisconsin or Ohio are clearly present in the current Arizons stand-off, but don’t count on a repeat of the large-scale battles that have been waged in those states.

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Redistricting draft map in Arizona favors Democrats

Redistricting draft map in Arizona favors Democrats

(Updated at 11:16 a.m. Wednesday with news that Schweikert may challenge Quayle in a primary for the 6th district.)

The bipartisan redistricting commission in Arizona appears to have given Democrats a big break.

A draft map released by the commission late Monday shores up Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ GOP-leaning district, forces the state’s Republican incumbents into some tough decisions and creates a new 9th district that Democrats will be slightly favored to win.

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