Arizona Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick was endorsed by EMILY’s List on Tuesday – a nod that could provide the Democrat with a financial boost and extra organizational support as she challenges Republican Sen. John McCain for re-election next year.
Stephanie Schriock, president of EMILY’s List, said in a statement the group's endorsement comes with the support of 3 million members who are “excited to stand with Ann Kirkpatrick and to help her get the U.S. Senate working for women and families in Arizona and across the country.” “Ann Kirkpatrick has always put the needs of Arizonans first – cutting through gridlock to create jobs, advocating for veterans, and championing policies that give women and families a fair shot,” Schriock said. “Extreme Republicans depend on John McCain to advance their agenda of failed policies, but Ann doesn’t back down from a tough fight and she knows how to win.”
The Arizona Senate race is rated Leans Republican by The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report /Roll Call. But Marcy Stech, a spokeswoman for EMILY’s List, said the group views the state as more competitive in a presidential election year – particularly with a candidate like Kirkpatrick who she said is “building a solid operation” to challenge McCain.
"I'm thrilled to have the endorsement from EMILY's List and am glad they agree that Arizonans deserve a senator who isn't entrenched in Washington and puts Arizona first," Kirkpatrick said in a statement.
EMILY's List, a group that advocates for Democratic women in elected office, is the latest Washington-based group to help Kirkpatrick in her run against McCain. While the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has yet to endorse Kirkpatrick, it is spending money against McCain – lumping the fifth-term incumbent in with a digital ad campaign targeting eight Republican senators over their support for legislation that would defund Planned Parenthood.
Caitlin Legacki, a principal at Precision Strategies who has helped elect Democratic women such as Sens. Claire McCaskill in Missouri, Kay Hagan in North Carolina and Jeanne Shaheen in New Hampshire, said an endorsement from EMILY’s List is among the “most important indicators” for success – a fundraising boost and “a sign of strength for candidates: You know with that endorsement comes incredible resources and support that, frankly, very few other groups can provide.”
During McCaskill’s 2012 re-election effort, EMILY's List assisted her long before Republican opponent Todd Akin's "legitimate rape" gaffe which flipped McCaskill's chances of winning the race at a time when she was seen as one of the most vulnerable Democrats in the Senate.
“There was an episode where five different groups went on the air attacking Claire, and we were just getting hammered – there's no other way to put it,"Legacki said. "EMILY’s List was the first group to come in and run ads to neutralize those attacks and they were nothing short of a lifesaver at a time in the campaign when very few other groups were equipped to help at the level we needed.”
In addition to McCaskill's race, EMILY’s List is supporting Democratic women in Senate campaigns in California, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Nevada, as well as Sen. Patty Murray’s re-election campaign in Washington.