Friday, February 19, 2016

Possible third Democratic candidate for Arizona CD2

In CD2 primary, Heinz and Steele may be joined by another candidate - state Rep. Bruce Wheeler. Here are snippets from Tim Steller's column this morning.

... the key strengths and weaknesses of the two candidates seem to be opposite.

Heinz has proven to be a strong fundraiser, reporting about $389,000 in contributions as of Jan. 31. But much of that support comes from fellow physicians around the country, people who share his profession but not his district. Locally, he’s not that popular.

Steele has proven a poor fundraiser, raising about $98,000 in the same period, about a quarter of Heinz’s haul. Yet she has broad local support that could be essential in any run against McSally.

These weaknesses have not escaped the notice of state Rep. Bruce Wheeler. The Tucson Democrat previously considered running for the seat, then abandoned the idea. Now he’s considering it again.

The reason?

“I don’t think either one of them can beat McSally,” Wheeler told me Thursday from the state Capitol.

There are two big reasons that make McSally a tough challenge, as former Pima County Democratic Party chair Don Jorgensen pointed out.

“It’s an uphill fight because she has a war chest. She’s been effective in running a two-year campaign since she was elected. She has avoided the ideological extreme during her two years.”

In other words, she’s been a pretty good member of Congress. And on Jan. 31, she reported $3.2 million in campaign contributions, along with $1.6 million in expenses.

So what would convince Wheeler, a long-time legislator and City Council member, to think he can challenge an incumbent with such advantages?

He told me it all turns on what happens March 1. That’s Super Tuesday, the day 12 states have presidential primaries or caucuses. If Donald Trump or Ted Cruz remain the strong favorites to win the nomination after those results come in, Wheeler will likely jump in, he said.

His thinking: A Trump or Cruz candidacy will prove disastrous for the Republicans, and the Democratic presidential candidate could well carry candidates further down the ticket to victory.

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