Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D)
Arizona 1st District
Beyond Phoenix, Arizona is a vast state of stunning beauty: the awe-inspiring Grand Canyon, the subtle pastel hues of the Painted Desert, the sheer cliff walls of Canyon de Chelly, the still waters of Lake Powell, the mountainous pine forests around Flagstaff, and the rust-and-rosy red rocks of Sedona. It is also has man-made landmarks: The celebrated U.S. 66, now mostly superseded by Interstate 40, the old gold mining camp of Prescott, home since 1888 of America’s oldest annual rodeo. Jerome, a mining town built improbably on hillside stilts, has been reborn as an artist colony. There are old copper mining towns like Globe.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
All of these places are in the 1st Congressional District of Arizona, which includes over half the state and is larger than Pennsylvania. It covers most of northern Arizona, except for Mohave County and the Hopi Indian Reservation and a narrow band of land connecting them. It reaches south to the northern edges of the Phoenix and Tucson metro areas. The 1st is the home of the nation’s largest Indian population, and a full 20% of its residents identify themselves as American Indians. There are several reservations here—Fort Apache, San Carlos, Zuni—but by far the largest is the Navajo Nation. (The Hopi are excluded because they have a long and angry boundary dispute with the Navajo and agreed to be part of the 2nd District). Most of the Navajo are in Apache County, with the rest in Navajo and Coconino counties. They have a history of fiercely contested tribal elections and considerable social problems. Unemployment has run close to 50%, nearly 60% of dwellings are without phone service, and 30% are without running water or electricity. Alcoholism and drug abuse remain rampant, and there is little economic development.
The 1st District was designed to be closely divided between the two parties, but today is solidly Republican in presidential elections. The copper mining counties of Greenlee, Graham, and Gila are historically Democratic and still register that way, but they tend to vote Republican. Apache County, with its Navajo majority, is heavily Democratic. Coconino County includes the college town and growing retirement mecca of Flagstaff, part of the Navajo Reservation, and Sedona, where the Army drove the Apaches off the land in the 1870s after gold was discovered; it is increasingly Democratic. Yavapai County is heavily Republican. It includes Prescott, where conservative icon Barry Goldwater always began his Arizona campaigns. President Bush won the district easily in 2004 with 54% of the vote, and Arizona native son John McCain won it similarly with 54% in 2008.
Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D)
Elected: 2008, 1st term.
Born: March 14, 1950, McNary .
Education: U. of AZ, B.A. 1972, J.D. 1979..
Family: Married (Roger Curley); 2 children.
Elected office: AZ House, 2004-07.
Professional Career: Coconino dep. co. atty., 1980-81; Pima Co. dep. atty., 1981-85; Practicing atty., 1985-1990; Sedona city atty., 1990-91; Instructor, Coconino Comm. Col., 2005.
The congresswoman from the 1st District is Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick, whose 2008 election came after the fall from grace of incumbent Republican Rick Renzi, who was indicted in an alleged extortion scheme.
|Ann Kirkpatrick (D)||155,791||(56%)||($1,997,089)|
|Sydney Hay (R)||109,924||(39%)||($675,723)|
|Brent Maupin (I)||9,394||(3%)||($30,467)|
|Ann Kirkpatrick (D)||26,734||(47%)|
|Mary Titla (D)||18,428||(33%)|
|Howard Shanker (D)||8,056||(14%)|
|Jeffrey Brown (D)||3,376||(6%)|
Kirkpatrick was born on the White Mountain Apache Nation reservation in eastern Arizona and grew up speaking both Apache and English. After earning a law degree from the University of Arizona, she worked as a prosecutor for the Coconino County attorney’s office, specializing in drug crime cases. She later served as the city attorney of Sedona. In 2004, Kirkpatrick ran for the Arizona House of Representatives in state District 2. At the time, conventional wisdom held that a non-Native American could not be elected in the district, where two-thirds of the registered voters were Native Americans. But this did not deter Kirkpatrick from challenging incumbent Rep. Sylvia Laughter, a Navajo and political independent. Kirkpatrick campaigned door-to-door and took advantage of Arizona’s Clean Elections law, which provides candidates with public money if they agree to limit contributions from private donors. Voters responded to her efforts. In her two terms, Kirkpatrick worked to provide Indian tribes with money to build communications infrastructure and lobbied the U.S. Justice Department to rescind state election laws that she contended disenfranchised Native Americans.
When allegations of misconduct by Renzi surfaced in early 2007, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee identified the seat as one of its top targets. Kirkpatrick saw an opportunity. She resigned from the Legislature in July 2007 and began campaigning for the Democratic nomination. Renzi opted not to seek re-election and was eventually indicted for extortion and other charges relating to a land deal that allegedly benefited one of his former business partners.
In addition to help from the DCCC, Kirkpatrick was endorsed by the national fundraising group EMILY’s List. The fundraising prowess that she demonstrated in two state elections and her appeal among rural voters made her a formidable candidate. She won a four-way Democratic primary with 47% of the vote, and the DCCC reserved $1.7 million for advertising for the fall campaign.
On the Republican side, the national and state parties were unable to convince former state Senate President Ken Bennett or state Rep. Bill Konopnicki to get into the race. Anti-tax activist Sydney Hay became the frontrunner for the nomination, but she barely defeated former State Department employee Sandra Livingstone in the Republican primary. The Arizona GOP opted not to aid Hay’s campaign. In the general election campaign, Kirkpatrick outspent her 3-to-1. In a swing district that voted for both President Bush and Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano, Kirkpatrick’s more moderate views resonated with voters. She carried six of the district’s eight counties and soundly defeated Hay 56% to 39%.
In the House, Kirkpatrick got seats on the Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs, and Small Business committees. She said her priority is improving infrastructure in her district, including expanding basic services such as electricity, running water, telephone and Internet access.