Arizona: Bee Formally Buzzes Into Race With Giffords

Posted January 18, 2008 at 6:23pm

State Senate President Tim Bee (R) was scheduled on Saturday to make his 2008 candidacy for the 8th district official, giving the National Republican Congressional Committee a much-needed boost in its Grand Canyon State recruiting efforts.

Bee, who launched an exploratory committee during the second quarter of 2007, enters the race having raised more than $300,000 to date, according to his campaign. He is seen as the only Republican in the GOP-leaning, Tucson-area district who has a shot at ousting freshman Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D).

Giffords was successful in 2006 at presenting herself as a moderate Democrat — and with a war chest of more than $1.1 million as of Sept. 30, she will not be easy to beat. However, Republicans are hopeful that Bee can get it done.

One key advantage for Bee could be the fact that former Rep. Jim Kolbe, the popular Republican who held the 8th district for nearly two decades, is acting as Bee’s campaign chairman.

Kolbe, a moderate himself, declined to endorse Giffords’ 2006 opponent, former state Rep. Randy Graf (R), whom he believed to be too far to the right. Kirkpatrick Gets Backing From Giffords in Primary

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D) has endorsed 1st district candidate Ann Kirkpatrick (D), who resigned her state House seat last year in order to get a jump on her 2008 Congressional bid.

Arizona’s resign-to-run law requires state lawmakers to resign their seats if they want to run for Congress, unless they hold off on their campaign until the year of the election.

Giffords’ decision to boost Kirkpatrick should add to her frontrunner status in the Sept. 2 Democratic primary. The 1st district is being vacated by retiring Rep. Rick Renzi (R).

Kirkpatrick is facing former television anchor Mary Kim Titla and attorney Howard Shanker in that contest. Kirkpatrick has far outpaced her rivals in fundraising and is the clear choice of the Democratic establishment.

The Republicans, meanwhile, keep hearing “no” from their preferred candidates. Sydney Hay, who ran for the seat in 2002 but lost the GOP nomination to Renzi, is running. But the candidates the Republicans wanted — former state Senate President Ken Bennett and state Rep. Bill Konopnicki among them — have all said no.
— David M. Drucker