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McSally’s 2016 Challenger Announces House Run

Physician Matt Heinz lost to Arizona Republican by 14 points

Arizona Rep. Martha McSally is a Democratic target in 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Arizona Rep. Martha McSally is a Democratic target in 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Tucson physician Matt Heinz announced Tuesday he would once again challenge Rep. Martha McSally, after losing to the Arizona Republican last year.

McSally won that race by 14 points, even while Hillary Clinton was carrying the 2nd District by 5 points, according to calculations by Daily Kos Elections. In his announcement, Heinz, a former Democratic state representative, signaled that, in 2018, he could attempt to tie McSally to President Donald Trump.

Martha McSally and her friends in Washington have unified control of the government — but instead of fighting to make things better for everyday Arizonans — McSally has been too busy circling the wagons around Donald Trump,” Heinz said in a statement.

This would be Heinz’s third attempt for the seat. He briefly ran in a special election in 2012 to replace former Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

The district is once again a Democratic target, though McSally, a former Air Force Pilot, has proven to be a formidable contender since she was first elected in 2014.

McSally is a member of the National Republican Congressional Committee’s Patriot Program, which includes some of the House GOP’s most vulnerable members. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the contest Leans Republican.

Despite his loss last year, Heinz, in his campaign announcement, referenced a recent poll conducted by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling of nearly 1,000 voters that showed him 4 points ahead of McSally. The survey had a 3-point margin of error.

McSally may also be recognizing that a more nationalized midterm environment could harm Republicans running for re-election next year.

“Any Republican member of Congress, you are going down with the ship,” she said in a recent private meeting with bankers, according to Tucson Weekly. “I have an ‘R’ next to my name and right now, this environment would have me not prevail.”

McSally voted for the GOP health care bill last month, which has made her the target of digital ads by Democratic groups.

Heinz will not have the Democratic primary to himself. A handful of candidates have already filed, including small-business owner Billy Kovacs. Former Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, who represented the 1st District for three terms before vacating her seat for an unsuccessful Senate run, has been listed among potential contenders since she recently moved to Tucson. State Rep. Randy Friese could also jump in the race, though he told the Arizona Daily Star that he is also considering challenging GOP Sen. Jeff Flake.

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