Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick Announces U.S. Senate Bid

Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick will run against John McCain for the U.S. Senate in 2016.
Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick will run against John McCain for the U.S. Senate in 2016.

Ann Kirkpatrick, a moderate Democrat and Arizona congresswoman, announced on Tuesday that she would run against John McCain for the U.S. Senate in 2016.

In a video published this morning, Kirkpatrick says she'll take on challenges from education to the economy, and mentions her famous rival by name.

"I respect John McCain's service to our nation," she says. "I just believe our state's changing. Arizona should have a real choice who they send to the U.S. Senate."

Kirkpatrick, raised on an Indian reservation in northeast Arizona, has cultivated support in the Native American communities and in typically right-wing rural Arizona. In recent years, she's gained favor with conservatives in her congressional district for her support of the Resolution Copper Mine. As our article on the mining project near Superior reported last month, Kirkpatrick told New Times that the mine will help working families across Arizona and suggested its benefits outweigh the impending destruction of a popular recreation area.

She made headlines earlier this year by attacking the solar-energy companies SunRun and SolarCity, joining a group of fellow Republicans in Congress to send a letter to the Federal Trade Commission asking for investigation into "potentially deceptive sales tactics."

Kirkpatrick's also not a peacenik-type of Democrat. She claims to oppose most gun-control suggestions. On May 15, after the National Defense Authorization Act of 2016 passed the U.S. House, Kirkpatrick touted her "yes" vote as beneficial to the state by ensuring funding for the A-10 Warthog and EC-130H Compass Call aircraft. 

But Democrats would be able to count on her for most issues. She's pro-choice on the abortion question, supports spending more money on public schools, and stands solidly behind Obamacare.

Kirkpatrick served in Congress for two years after being elected in 2008, then lost to Republican Paul Gosar in 2010. Legislative redistricting was kind to the congresswoman, and voters re-elected her to office in 2012 and 2014.

Kirkpatrick says in her video that opponents may try to dig up mud on her — and that's one reason she's holding on to her old cowboy boots.

Maybe it takes a maverick to beat a maverick: McCain, a Vietnam veteran who's been an Arizona senator since 1986, is known for his occasional nod toward liberal issues. Last year, the Arizona Republican Party censured McCain because his voting record supposedly wasn't conservative enough. McCain announced last year he'd be running for his sixth term in 2016, when he's 80.

McCain already has one potential female challenger — from his own party. Arizona State Senator Kelli Ward, a Republican who wants local authorities to arrest any federal agents who try to limit gun rights, says she wants to take on McCain because he's too soft on illegal immigrants.

Like McCain, Kirkpatrick has previously said she wants a border-security fence between Arizona and Mexico.

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