Former state Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D), favored to win the open 1st district over government relations executive Sydney Hay (R), has further solidified her frontrunner status by picking up some key Native American endorsements.
Retiring Rep. Rick Renzi (R), who was indicted on more than 35 corruption counts earlier this year, was able to win three elections in the district in large part because he was able to secure the support of the districts Native American population.
That is why the backing Kirkpatrick has received from Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley Jr., San Carlos Apache Chairman Wendsler Nosie and White Mountain Apache Chairman Ronnie Lupe is considered so crucial.
The San Carlos Apache Tribal Council and I, as Chairman, endorse Ann Kirkpatrick for her knowledge, wisdom, and understanding of rural areas and their unique interests, Nosie said in a statement released by the Kirkpatrick campaign.
The sprawling, northern and eastern Arizona 1st district leans Democratic. But the Democrats who populate the area tend to be conservative on social issues, making the region fertile ground for Republicans.
With less than three weeks to go until Election Day, Hays ability to harness support among these conservative Democrats remains unclear.
Hay, who lost the GOP nomination fight to Renzi in 2002, was not the first choice of Republican Congressional recruiters in the 1st district.