Kirkpatrick and Hay vie for seat

 
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The two main competitors fighting to represent Arizona’s 1st District in the House of Representatives are Democratic candidate Ann Kirkpatrick and Republican candidate Sydney Hay.

Kirkpatrick won the recent Democratic primary with nearly 15 percent more votes than runner-up Mary Kim Titla. The Republican primary was more competitive, with Hay edging-out Sandra Livingstone by less than 2,000 votes. District 1 encompasses all of Flagstaff and more than half of Arizona; it is one of the 10 largest districts in the United States.

Hay, a former Kansas teacher who is currently an executive at an Arizona mine, first ran for Congress back in 2002. She was defeated in the Republican primary by 1st District incumbent Rick Renzi, who was a close companion to John McCain. Renzi reclaimed the district in 2004 and 2006. But in November 2007, Renzi announced he would not be seeking reelection because he was being federally investigated. In February, Renzi was indicted on 35 charges of money laundering, extortion and illegal profiteering. Hay immediately announced her candidacy and now has a chance to finish what she started six years ago.

Kirkpatrick, a former state prosecutor, previously represented Arizona’s 2nd District from 2004 to 2007. She resigned from her seat in 2007 to take on Renzi in the 1st District. But with Renzi not running, and the Democrats presumed to regain control of the House and Senate, Kirkpatrick is considered the odds-on favorite.

Zac Petkanas, the communications director for Kirkpatrick, said the sheer difference in votes bodes well for her candidate. Petkanas noted that Kirkpatrick handily won the Democratic primary while Hay, who was a last-minute entry, barely squeaked past Sandra Livingstone. She also cites that District 1 is the most moderate district in Arizona, which is traditionally conservative.

Hay is also optimistic about her chances, though she cites her financial woes as a concern. 

“With only five, six weeks left, we are in a very close race,” Hay said. “We do not have the funding that the Democrats have. A few years ago, we lost a lot of donors and supporters because of the way our party was behaving. And rightly so — too many Republicans lost their way and stopped standing for what Republicans should stand for.”

Fred Solop, a professor in the Politics and International Affairs Department at NAU, said the race is still up for grabs.

“This congressional contest is an open seat,” Solop said. “We are in the middle of an enormous economic shift. The market is in its worst shape in 70 or 80 years, and it is still too early to tell who that will benefit.”

One reason for the gap in campaign financing is that the National Republican Congressional Committee opted not to fund Hay’s campaign.

“At this time, it appears that Kirkpatrick has a very strong base,” Solop said. “She has outraised Hay three to one, and where the Republicans may be hesitant to spend money, the Democrats have much greater resources. Kirkpatrick seems to be able to run a district-wide election, so she is definitely at the advantage. But anything can happen.”

Solop said the Republicans may be investing their money in other races they deem more significant. Whatever the reason, Kirkpatrick has a $2 million to zero advantage in terms of party funding, which troubles Hay’s spokesman, Roy Tyler.

“We still have our prayers that somehow they will hear and answer and send us some money,” Tyler said in an interview with the Associated Press.

“Let me promise this,” Hay said. “If the (Republican National) Congressional Committee gets involved, this race will absolutely be about the issues. We have had enough distractions already; we need to focus on what really makes Ann or I the best candidate.”

As for NAU voting results, there were four District 1 precincts that were on-campus only. And in those precincts, Sandra Livingstone captured the most votes with four, beating out Sydney Hay’s two votes.

The contest was even closer on the Democratic side, where Ann Kirkpatrick edged out Howard Shanker 13-12. Shanker was assisted by chalk “Vote for Shanker” messages that littered the campus on the day of the voting. Ultimately, Kirkpatrick still received more votes at NAU.

Two other candidates are vying for the District 1 seat: Independent Brent Maupin and Libertarian Thane Eichenauer.

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