Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick’s challenge to Republican Sen. John McCain impacts our ratings of two races in Arizona.
Up to this point, McCain was considered a heavy favorite for re-election to a sixth term, in part because the senator has proven to be a tough campaigner. Moreover, Republicans have carried The Grand Canyon State in the last four presidential elections, and Democrats haven’t won an Arizona Senate race since 1988. But Kirkpatrick could be a formidable foe who is credible enough to attract attention from donors beyond Arizona and from Democratic outside groups.
There is still plenty of time for the race to evolve, including other Democrats potentially jumping in and a potential primary challenger to McCain, but the race looks more competitive than it was before Kirkpatrick’s announcement.
Kirkpatrick leaves behind a very competitive House seat that will be challenging for Democrats to defend. Mitt Romney won the 1st District 50 percent to 48 percent in 2012, and McCain won it 51 percent to 48 percent in the 2008 presidential race.
Kirkpatrick won re-election last cycle in the face of a challenging electoral environment. But her challenger, state Speaker Andy Tobin, barely made it through the late GOP primary and had difficulty raising money.
Since Kirkpatrick announced early Tuesday, the candidate fields to replace her have barely started to form. And there is a chance the shape of the district could change in response to the upcoming Supreme Court decision .
But without Kirkpatrick running for re-election, we’re changing the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call rating from Leans Democratic to Tossup .
Related: Kirkpatrick to Take On McCain in 2016 Moving Parts Complicate Democrats' Challenge to McCain The Survivor: How Kirkpatrick Held On In 2014 Life on Mars, Or Arizona's 1st District Roll Call Race Ratings Map: Ratings for Every House and Senate Race in 2016 Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.