Former Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick has won the Democratic primary in Arizona’s 2nd District, one of the top pickup opportunities for Democrats this fall.
Kirkpatrick, who previously represented the neighboring 1st District, had the backing of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. But she still faced a bruising primary fight thanks to attacks from physician and former state Rep. Matt Heinz, the 2016 nominee. Heinz charged that Kirkpatrick was a carpetbagger who was not liberal enough on issues such as gun control.
But Kirkpatrick was able to fend off those attacks. With 10 percent of precincts reporting, she led Heinz, 41 percent to 31 percent, when The Associated Press called the race.
Kirkpatrick is expected to face Republican Lea Marquez Peterson, the CEO of the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, in November. With 10 percent of precincts reporting, Marquez Peterson led a four-candidate field with 33 percent of the vote, but the AP has not yet called the race.
After three terms representing the more conservative 1st District, Kirkpatrick ran for Senate in 2016, but lost to GOP Sen. John McCain, who passed away Saturday. She was then encouraged to run for the Tucson-area 2nd District to take on GOP incumbent Martha McSally.
But after GOP Sen. Jeff Flake’s decided against seeking a second term, McSally opted to run for Senate, opening up her House seat. She won her primary Tuesday night.
Democrats view the 2nd District as a top target this year, since Hillary Clinton carried it by 5 points in 2016. The district was also previously represented by Democrats Gabrielle Giffords and Ron Barber, a former Giffords aide who succeeded her after she was seriously injured at a shooting at a constituent event in Tucson. Barber encouraged Kirkpatrick to run for the seat, and Giffords endorsed her as well.
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