Saturday, February 6, 2016

No good news for the CD2 race: McSally ahead in poll and flush with cash

It's getting hard to be optimistic these days about the chances of taking back the CD2 House seat won by Martha McSally in 2014. In Scriber's estimation, she has two things going for her. First, she's playing her PR about her accomplishments very well. Second, she has amassed a huge war chest.

Start with the money. She out-raised her Democratic rivals Victoria Steele and Matt Heinz in the third quarter of 2015 (reported by the Daily Star).

Filings with the Federal Election Commission show McSally has a $1.6 million campaign war chest.

By comparison, her would-be Democratic rivals, state Rep. Victoria Steele and Former state representative Matt Heinz, had less than $210,000 in the bank combined, the filings show.

That trend continued into the last quarter of 2015. Jim Nintzel at TucsonWeekly/TheSkinny reports on the CD2 race.

To no great surprise, Congressional District 2 Congresswoman Martha McSally continued to sweep up dollars like no one else. McSally reported raising more than $708,000 in the final three months of 2015. McSally is sitting on nearly $2 million as she prepares to fight her first reelection battle here in Southern Arizona.

The two Democrats who want to challenge McSally had wildly different quarters. Former state lawmaker Matt Heinz raised about $203,000 and had more than $305,000 in the bank as the year ended. By contrast, Victoria Steele, who gave up her seat a few weeks ago to concentrate on the congressional run, raised just over $44,000 and had just $43,867 in the bank.

To top that off, the recent poll commissioned by Steele has both Steele and Heinz running behind McSally (story from AZ Public Media).

Democrat Victoria Steele commissioned the poll from left-leaning Public Policy Polling. It compares her to McSally, and Democrat Matt Heinz.

When Heinz and Steele are compared in a primary election poll, the two are tied with 29 percent support each.

In a head-to-head general election match-up, McSally led Steele 48 percent to 39 percent, and McSally led Heinz 48 percent to 35 percent.

There is one bright spot here: McSally is polling at less than 50% in two polls now. Nintzel notes that "An NRCC poll released last year also showed McSally had the support of less than 50 percent of the voters, which is often the a sign that an incumbent is vulnerable."

Nintzel continues.

Those numbers aside, the national prognosticators are putting their money on McSally. Last week, Nathan Gonzalez of the Rothenberg & Gonzalez Political Report moved McSally from the "Lean Republican" column to the "Favored Republican" column. "Republican Rep. Martha McSally is proving to be a tremendous fundraiser and a very tough incumbent for Democrats to dislodge from this competitive district," noted Gonzalez.

CD2 remains a competitive district, roughly split between Democrats, Republicans and independents. McSally won her 2014 race against Democratic incumbent Ron Barber by just 167 votes, but she has been working overtime to build networks in the community to counter some of her more conservative votes, such as her multiple efforts to strip funding from Planned Parenthood or repeal the Affordable Care Act. And all that money she's raised will do two things: Attract money from outside groups on the GOP side and discourage outside groups from the Democratic side from playing in CD2 in the fall, unless they see a legit path to victory for the eventual Democratic nominee.

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