(Reprinted from The Phoenix Business Journal)
Two key Arizona congressional races are leaning towards Republican challengers, according to recent polls and election projections. Both GOP challengers have the backing of Sarah Palin and are courting tea party voters as they look to unseat Democratic incumbents Ann Kirkpatrick and Harry Mitchell.
Tea party dentist Paul Gosar leads Kirkpatrick in their rural Arizona race. A recent poll by by The Hill newspaper in Washington gives Gosar a 46 percent to 39 percent lead on Kirkpatrick.
That has resulted in Real Clear Politics (a political news website) to move the race from a toss-up to “leaning Republican.”
The rural district includes Flagstaff, Sedona, Casa Grande, Prescott and Payson.
Kirkpatrick won the seat in 2008 in an open election that occurred when incumbent Republican Rick Renzi did not run for reelection. Renzi was indicted on tax and corruption charges. He denies wrongdoing and that case is ongoing.
Real Clear Politics also pegs the race between Tempe congressman Harry Mitchell and challenger David Schweikert as leaning towards the latter. Mitchell won the Republican-leaning district in 2006. He beat Schweikert in 2008.
The few polls done on that race show it as a close contest, though Mitchell is below 50 percent in the surveys. Kirkpatrick is also below 50 percent in her race. Incumbents sitting below the 50 percent line in preelection polls are traditionally thought to be vulnerable on election day.
As the Democratic incumbent, Mitchell voted for President Barack Obama’s health reforms but has bucked the party line on taxes. The Mitchell campaign pointed out Monday that the former Tempe mayor leads in a couple of polls.
A third Arizona race between U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Tucson and tea party conservative Jesse Kelly is listed as a toss-up by Real Clear.
Palin also backs Schweikert and Kelly.