6 Surprising Democratic Candidates Vow to Oust Martha Motormouth McSally


Updated July 4, 2017

The mission to oust right-winger Martha “Motormouth” McSally from her Congressional seat launched this week as a suprising array of Democratic candidates made their pitches to progressive loyalists.

The first candidates’ forum was sponsored by the brand-new McSally Take a Stand PAC. The registration of the PAC, with 1,150 members, is exciting because there is no limit to the donations you can make to it.

Inspiring the attendees, most of the candidates supported Medicare for All. The Arizona Democratic Party State Committee has united in support of HR-676 -Medicare For All — single-payer health care.

Here’s my scorecard (also see the latest Scuttlebutt below).

Dropped out. #1 Alison Jones, a water scientist,  hydrogeologist and past president of the Arizona Geological Society. She works at Clear Creek Associates, a company that does well design, water supply, and contaminated sites investigations. The political newbie was articulate, smart and organized.  She was only candidate with handout materials — hitting all the progressive notes about climate change, humane immigration, sustainable water policy, pro-choice, support the middle class, LGBT rights and sensible gun laws.

She was only candidate with handout materials — hitting all the progressive notes about climate change, humane immigration, sustainable water policy, pro-choice, support the middle class, LGBT rights and sensible gun laws.

I love scientists and she’s assembling a team of them to advise her. It will take a woman to beat McSally. I wish Alison had elected office experience and an existing base.

Best line: “Martha, how can you sleep at night?”

To support her: https://www.facebook.com/Jonesing4AZ/, Phone 520-230-1249, Email: aj4az2@gmail.com

#2 Billy Kovacs, a 30-year old who is the new Operations Manager for the Congress Hotel. The political newbie is tall, articulate, charismatic, handsome and young. His LinkedIn profile shows he has a lot of business experience for a kid. Did I mention he’s young and will attract Millennials who are 25% of the Tucson population?

A diamond in the rough, Billy can ride the wave of new, young volunteers who are flooding the Democratic Party. Before the election, I went to meetings of precinct committeemen and was let down by all the white hair I saw. And I say this speaking as a senior citizen myself. After Inauguration Day, these meetings have quadrupled in attendance and were moved to a bigger location. As Bob Dylan sang in 1963, “Don’t stand in the doorway, Don’t block up the hall, For the times they are a-changin.’” Let’s let the younger people take over.

I wish he had elected office experience and an existing base.

Best line: “We need to reach young people who haven’t seen a Democrat knocking on their doors.”

To support him: https://www.kovacsforcongress.com/, https://www.facebook.com/kovacsforcongress, Email: info@kovacsforcongress.com.

#3 Bruce Wheeler, an experienced legislator who was Assistant Minority Leader in the Arizona state house. He has served from 1975-1978, and 2010-2017. Bruce has done a lot for Arizona, sponsoring 71 progressive bills in the house.

He is the favorite of seasoned precinct committeemen, who are holding house parties for him now.  I can see why: he is for Medicare for All, a fair immigration policy, combating climate change, securing a woman’s right to choose, jobs not jails, stopping dark money, gay rights and eliminating school vouchers.

He quoted Martin Luther King and Noam Chomsky and said hello to Randy Friese from the podium. Friese is Assistant Minority Leader and a shining hope for Democrats. Bruce has been elected three times, and all of his constituency is in McSally’s congressional district.

I just wish he were as exciting as Governor candidate Steve Farley. I wonder if he can beat a female A-10 pilot in the election.

Best line: “We are optimists who can turn this around. CD2 is winnable.”

To support him: http://wheelerforcongress2018.com/, Email: bwheeler48@gmail.com, Phone 520-609-7800.

#4 Mary S. Matiella, a former US Assistant Secretary of the Army (Financial Management and Comptroller), appointed by Obama. She has three key advantages: she’s a woman, a Latina and ex-military.

The daughter of migrant workers who grew up in Marana and Picacho, she told heart-rending stories of a childhood without medical care.

Today she is an alumna of the Eller College, where she earned her MBA in 1976. She was the youngest person in her MBA class, the only woman, and the only minority candidate. She has 33 years of military and federal government experience. She supports free public education, a woman’s right to choose, and labor unions.

Mary has the support of Bill Roe, a longtime leader among Arizona Democrats who is the party’s first vice chair. Tim Steller interviewed her for the Arizona Daily Star.

Best line: “Without free pubic education, we cannot give hope to the children who play in the dirt.”

Support her at: matiella@gwu.edu, phone: 703-321-6447.

#5 Charlie Verdin, an odd guy with no particular points. He is running “to create a better vision of representative democracy.”

Chris Wright

#6 Chris Wright, a guy with a beer belly in a blue t-shirt, gym shoes and white cargo pants. Best line: “I do have a clue.” He just launched a Star Treck Facebook page.

No-shows: Jeff Latas, Matt Heinz, Lou Jordan, Ann Kirkpatrick, Joshua Polacheck.


Randy Friese told me he waiting to see if a strong candidate emerges in the McSally race. If there is, he might run against US Sen. Jeff Flake, who may face serious primary challenges from Trump lackeys like State Treasurer Jeff DeWit, onetime state GOP boss Robert Graham, and wacko crackpot Kelli Ward.

Ann Kirkpatrick has moved to Tucson from Flagstaff and Ron Barber is trying to draft her. She was a Congresswoman from Arizona’s 1st district from 2009 to 2011 and 2013 to 2017.

Tamar Rala Kreiswirth, founder of The Arizona Ground Game (where I am a steering committee member) passionately reminded us that 25% of Arizona Democrats did not vote in the last election. In McSally’s district, there are 122,000 registered Democrats, 116,000 registered Republicans and 104,000 independents and others. TAGG is a grass-roots group that supports precinct committeemen like me by recruiting neighborhood Guides. The Ground Game encourages active citizenship through neighborhood building and public policy education. See AZGroundGame.org.

Richard Elías, a Pima County Supervisor Supervisor is the new Chairman of the Nucleus Club, whose memberships pay the mortgage on the Pima Democratic Party office on E. 1st Street. Meetings are on the second Thursday of the month at the Viscount Suite Hotel, 4855 E Broadway starting at 5:30 pm with cocktails and appetizers. The programs start at 6:00 pm. I fondly remember the late Martin Bacall who always encouraged me to attend the meetings.

Larry Bodine is an elected Democratic Precinct Committeeman in Precinct #238.


  1. Dr. Matt Heinz who opposed Congresswoman McSally in Nov. 2016, has announced another bid:
    For Immediate Release Contact:
    Tuesday, June 13, 2017 David Waid, 602-380-9355


    Citing Washington’s continued dysfunction, Tucson physician Dr. Matt Heinz announced his campaign to challenge Rep. Martha McSally in Southern Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District. Heinz, who ran against McSally in 2016 now holds a four percentage point lead according to recent polling.

    “Washington is broken and it’s not working for Southern Arizona,” said Dr. Heinz. “Martha McSally and her friends in Washington have unified control of the government – but instead of fighting to make things better for everyday Arizonans – McSally has been too busy circling the wagons around Donald Trump.”

    A poll conducted by Public Policy Polling from May 5th-7th, showed Heinz defeating McSally 48%-44%. McSally’s job performance is also underwater, 53% of voters disapprove of the job she’s doing while only 40% approve.

    “As a physician trained in Southern Arizona, I was taught to listen,” said Dr. Heinz. “I hear the fears and hopes of the people I treat. I hear about their lives, and I learn from them every day. Washington has lost its ability to listen. If we are ever going to get America back on track, that has to change, and that change starts right here.”

      • Unfortunately Dr. Heinz lost to Congresswoman McSally by 43,933 votes in Nov. 2016 (179,806 to 135,873). He needs to do much better in 2018, and he as a doctor at Tucson Medical Center will be challenging her vote for the recent AHCA, replacing the Affordable Care Act.

  2. If you can, go see Marry Sally in Tucson. Poor Martha. She voted with Trump 100% of the time. I wonder why her constituents are so mad at her?

    • I guess we both saw that at the same time. Glad to see it’s getting picked up by other websites.

    • From the article:

      “”McSally complained that President Donald Trump and his tweets were creating troubling “distractions” and “it’s basically being taken out on me. Any Republican member of Congress, you are going down with the ship. And we’re going to hand the gavel to Pelosi in 2018, they only need 28 seats and the path to that gavel being handed over is through my seat. And right now, it doesn’t matter that it’s me, it doesn’t matter what I’ve done. I have an ‘R’ next to my name and right now, this environment would have me not prevail.”

      Admittedly, McSally was making these comments as she was asking the bankers to open their checkbooks for her reelection campaign, so it could well be that she was just doing the ol’ fear-mongering-for-dollars act.””

    • More from the article:

      “The environment has changed and some of it changed on January 20,” McSally told the crowd. “There’s just an element out there that’s just, like, so against the president. Like they just can’t see straight. And all of a sudden on January 20, I’m like his twin sister to them. And I’m, like, responsible for everything he does, and tweets and says. And they want me to be spending my time as a pundit. ‘I disagree with that. I agree with this.’ I have a job in the legislature!”

    • More from the article (McSally reveals her (lack of) financial expertise:

      “”As she was talking to bankers, McSally focused on the latest GOP efforts to repeal the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act that regulated banks after the 2007 economic collapse. She characterized Dodd-Frank as a hindrance to banks that needs to be repealed.

      “Within the public, there is often a perception that we had the financial meltdown and then Dodd-Frank was good and it was, you know, saving us from future financial meltdowns,” McSally said. “You guys are all experts in the industry and you know that’s not the truth. Really, what Dodd-Frank did, was it provided additional compliance and legislative regulations and more burdens upon you. It doesn’t actually protect the consumer anymore, it just adds more paperwork and compliance.””

    • McSally is clearly out there trying to build that war chest back up to 7 or 8 million like in 2016.

      Get that money, Girl, you gon’ need it.

    • Isn’t it sad how poor, poor, poor Martha is being blamed for everything Trump does?

      • Given that her voting record is still lockstep with DJT, I don’t think it’s wrong to call her an enabler of the Trump agenda.

        If she wants to earn the title of Mythical Moderate the Lionhearted, she should start voting like it.

  3. did kirkpatrick bring her boots? enough with old party hacks! they tried this bull crap in 2016 running defeated candidates for senate and president. you see how well that turned out. by 2018 mccain will have full blown dementia and be in a nursing home. douche bag will appoint mcsally who mccain wants as his replacement.

  4. You don’t pull any punches, Larry! I wholeheartedly agree with your #1 vote–think Alison Jones would be GREAT–and you make a good point about Billy Kovacs. I was also impressed by Ms Kreiswirth and the Arizona Ground Game–just hope they will work on helping people interact productively with Trump supporters (no simple task.) I think Alison needs to add public education to her list of key issues, and I thought Charlie Verdin made valid points about the 2nd being a swing district and the relationship between a representative and his or her constituents. I’m put off by anti-McSally tactics and name-calling, think it would be more effective to clearly and calmly point out her negatives and articulate and emphasize what the opposition has to offer.

    • We’re close to halfway through 2017. So how does a totally unknown person like Alison Jones, Billy Kovacs, Tamar Rala Kreiswirth, etc… raise enough money to develop name recognition and run against an incumbent who has already proved she can raise close to 8 million for a single election?

      McSally has to be confronted with her record and this has to be done publicly, frequently, and forcefully by the opposition. But it is also true that the opposition must present an alternative vision and do it with conviction. That isn’t “anti-McSally”, it’s reality.

  5. Mary Sally Matiella will be speaking at Democrats of Greater Tucson on June 19. See our calendar listing.

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