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Kirkpatrick Challenger Apologizes for Linking Democrats With Mass Shooters

Kirkpatrick could face one of several Republicans in November. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Kirkpatrick could face one of several Republicans in November. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A Republican challenger to Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick apologized Monday for saying over the weekend that most mass shooters are members of the Democratic Party.  

In his initial Saturday comment, rancher Gary Kiehne stated that “if you look at all the fiascos that have occurred, 99 percent of them have been by Democrats pulling their guns out and shooting people,” according to The Arizona Daily Star .  “So I don’t think you have a problem with the Republicans.”  

His campaign released a statement apologizing for the comment:

“This past weekend, I made a comment about the political affiliation of perpetrators of gun violence in the heat of a debate. I’ve since learned that the information that I based the comment off of was inaccurate and incorrect. I’ve always believed that when you make a mistake, you should own up to it. Too many politicians today offer nothing but spin and excuses when they say something they shouldn’t have. I’m not going to do that. Simply put, I shouldn’t have made the comment, and I want to offer my apology for making it without any reservations.”

Arizona’s 1st District, which President Barack Obama lost by 2 points in 2012, could potentially feature one of the most competitive House races in the country. Still, Kirkpatrick’s chances rest partly on the quality of candidate that emerges in the Aug. 26 GOP primary. State Speaker Andy Tobin and state Rep. Adam Kwasman are also running.  

Shortly after Kiehne’s apology, Tobin released a statement calling on Kiehne to withdraw from the race, citing both these comments and previous remarks as evidence Kiehne “lacks the temperament, character and basic common sense” necessary for the job.  

Mass shootings hit close to home in the sprawling 1st, which abuts the Tucson-based 2nd District — home of former Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, one of 12 individuals wounded in a 2011 shooting in which six people were killed. Now-Rep. Ron Barber, a Democrat who succeeded Giffords, was among the wounded.  

Kiehne brought in more money than his two primary rivals in the first quarter of this year, thanks in part to a $100,000 personal loan . Kiehne has loaned his campaign $200,000 since last fall.  

Kirkpatrick far outpaced the Republican field in fundraising in the same period and reported more than $1 million on hand.  

The primary is late in the season, on Aug. 26. The race is rated Tilts Democrat by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.