From Roll Call, written by Abby Livington -
Republican state Rep. Adam Kwasman announced today an exploratory committee to challenge Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz., a top target for the House GOP in 2014, according to a press release from his new campaign.
Kwasman is the first Republican enter the 1st District race this cycle, but it is likely other GOP candidates will chase the seat as well. He was also the subject of a recent Roll Call story on potential Republican challengers for Kirkpatrick.
His exploratory website is here.
As the article mentioned, Kwasman may be the first GOPer in the CD1 race, but he won't be the last. In fact, 2014 should be an outright brawl on the GOP side of the ballot, with CD1 being at the top of the card.
Kirkpatrick is viewed as the most vulnerable D, with a competitive and heavily rural district. As such, a laundry list of Rs are looking at that race; one of those rumored to be looking is AZSOS Ken Bennett. He's also rumored to be looking at a run for governor. Since there will be an R primary for both offices, he may just go for the one with the one he thinks is the most winnable.
Assuming that both Bennett and Kwasman go for CD1, I expect at least two more "name" candidates to at least strongly consider jumping into the CD1 race, with "name" meaning "current or recent officeholder", two lesser-known but viable candidates, and two "tilting at windmills" candidates.
Kwasman may have one serious issue working against his candidacy - based on the way he has conducted himself in office and the way his (exploratory) campaign has started, he is running as a generic knee-jerk Republican. He could be running in any other district in the state, or even the country. Somebody with strong ties to the rural part of the district might be able to easily turn him aside.
Ties like the ones possessed by Kirkpatrick.
The next target on the R hit parade will probably be the CD4 seat currently held by Republican Paul Gosar. AZ House Speaker Andy Tobin, term-limited out of the AZ House, is said to be mulling this one. Gosar is still seen as a carpetbagger in the district, vulnerable to a challenger with a strong base of support in the district.
Based on current voter registration numbers, CD4 will almost certainly remain in the hands of the Republican party. The only real question is which R will occupy the office.
After that are seats held by Democrats in two competitive districts.
CD9 is currently held by Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema, who already has three announced R challengers, two of whom also ran in 2012. Vernon Parker and Wendy Rogers have signed on for a return engagement. Newbie Andrew Walter, whose claim to fame thus far is that he was a QB for the ASU football team a few years back, is also in the race. The seat is attainable for the Rs, but Sinema was and is a strong candidate. It will take a combination of factors to defeat her. They will need a mix of Sinema messing up, the R candidate (whoever that may end up being) running a near-perfect campaign, and a national environment that is conducive to R victories. In short, a wave. Not necessarily one of 2010 proportions, but a solid one.
And given that, historically, the mid-term elections of a two-term president's second term usually see Congressional gains by the party that isn't the president's, this third factor seems more likely than not to come to pass.
Given Sinema's strength as a candidate, the race probably won't see a "big name" R, but one or two (or three or four) lower-profile Rs with some game who are willing to take a gamble. The bigger name Rs will look for a surer thing.
After that one comes a district that, while competitive enough that the Rs won't give it a free pass, is going to take pretty near everything going right for the Rs for them to have a serious chance at taking the seat.
Currently held by Congressman Ron Barber (D), CD2 shows a slight R edge in voter registration numbers, making it look like it is ripe for a takeover. However, Barber is a strong candidate in an area where the Democrats are very energetic and involved, leading to high D turnout at the polls.
So far, just Martha McSally, the 2012 R nominee and loser in the general election, has signed on for the race. It's likely that other Rs will get in CD2 race, but each of them will probably have some serious baggage weighing down their candidacies.
One interesting note: with Kwasman's announcement, it becomes official that though all will be running for office, none of the current LD11 legislators will be running for reelection to their current offices next year, and term limits aren't involved.
State Rep. Adam Kwasman - going for Congress.
State Rep. Steve Smith - going for the state senate.
State Sen. Al Melvin - going for governor.
Doesn't mean much - LD11 is still a tough nut for Democratic candidates to crack (doable, but very tough), but it's still interesting.
In a political geek sort of way. :)