The National Republican Congressional Committee is diving head first into the Congressional District 1 race.
The NRCC will spend $900,000 on air time for TV ads that will begin airing in September in what the organization says is just the start of its investment to make sure Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick doesn’t get elected.
Kirkpatrick is facing opposition in the Aug. 28 primary from Wenona Benally Baldenegro but is the favorite to win. She’ll likely face Republican Jonathan Paton in the Nov. 6 general. He’s the favorite against Gaither Martin and Patrick Gatti in his primary.
“This significant investment is not the extent of our involvement, just the beginning,” said NRCC spokesman Daniel Scarpinato. “Republicans are committed to reminding Arizonans why they fired Ann Kirkpatrick two years ago, namely her vote to gut Medicare in order to fund ObamaCare.”
Kirkpatrick was elected to Congress in 2008, serving one term in the old Congressional District 1 before being defeated in her re-election bid in 2010 by Republican Paul Gosar. During her time in office, Kirkpatrick voted for the 2009 economic stimulus package, as well as the 2010 Affordable Care Act, also known as ‘Obamacare.’
The NRCC backing helps Paton stay competitive with Kirkpatrick in the money race. New campaign finance reports show Kirkpatrick has a wide lead on Paton in fund-raising.
Kirkpatrick raised $92,463 from July 1 through Aug. 8, giving her $826,099 cash on hand. Paton raised $51,305 in that period, leaving him with just $127,512 in his campaign coffers.
The district’s electorate also leans Kirkpatrick’s way. There are nearly 30,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans in the new CD1, which includes parts of 11 counties from as far south as Oro Valley and Marana and north to the Arizona-Utah state line.
“Republicans will need big bucks to cover up their plan to turn Medicare into a voucher system,” said Jennifer Johnson, spokeswoman for Kirkpatrick. “And Paton will need all the help he can get — his numbers reflect the lack of support in our district for a carpetbagging payday-lending lobbyist.”
Paton is making his second run for Congress. In 2010, he lost to Republican Jesse Kelly in the Congressional District 8 primary.
In this year’s CD 8 special election, the NRCC spent more than $1 million on TV and radio ads and mailers in an attempt to help Kelly defeat Democrat Ron Barber to complete the term of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Kelly, however, lost by 7 percentage points to Barber.
Stay tuned to the Pueblo Politics blog throughout 2012 for news, updates and information about Arizona politics. You can follow Arizona Daily Star reporters Brady McCombs and Becky Pallack on Twitter.