Kovacs Shines and Kirkpatrick Gets Booed at CD2 Congressional Candidates Forum

Candidates Billy Kovacs, Mary Matiella, Matt Heinz, Barbara Sherry, Bruce Wheeler, and Ann Kirkpatrick.
Candidates Billy Kovacs, Mary Matiella, Matt Heinz, Barbara Sherry, Bruce Wheeler, and Ann Kirkpatrick.

The CD2 Congressional candidate forum on July 19 was a classic Democratic assembly, with at least 450 attendees including hecklers, cheering and booing, and horrendous audio.

The PAC RepresentMeAZ organized the event at Tucson High School and gave out report cards about the candidates. The results will be posted soon on Facebook. At the last event, Bruce Wheeler was the crowd favorite, and I’m guessing this time it may be Billy Kovacs.

Sure enough, Billy Kovacs was the audience favorite at the July 19th candidate forum. Second place went to the winner of our last Forum, Bruce Wheeler. candidate report card

Kovacs, Maria Matiella, Bruce Wheeler, Barbara Sherry and Matt Heinz staked out ultra-progressive positions, leaving a beleaguered and defensive Ann Kirkpatrick as the odd person out.


  • All the candidates agreed to support the winner of the August 28 primary. Mail-in ballots will be sent to voters on August 1.
  • The audience groaned as Kirkpatrick and Heinz sniped at each other. See videos and attack ads in the comments section at https://goo.gl/6QtjfHI have no tolerance for candidates who go negative against fellow Democrats.
  • All the candidates supported federal legalization of marijuana except Kirkpatrick. Why, Ann, why must weed be outlawed as a Schedule 1 drug?
  • The candidates — except for Kirkpatrick — took the radical, left-wing position to abolish ICE, the internal immigration enforcement agency. Arizona Star columnist Tim Steller called this “a loser of a political position.”
  • All but Kirkpatrick supported Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, for calling the president’s remarks “cowardly and shameful” when he bowed to Putin.
  • Regarding impeaching the president, supporters were Kovacs, Matiella, Sherry, and Kirkpatrick — but not Heinz or Wheeler.
  • Most of the candidates wore teal ribbons for Sexual Assualt Awareness.

Who can beat the Republican?

CD2 candidates Kovacs Matiella Heinz

The unspoken issue is who can beat Republican Congressional favorite Lea Marquez-Peterson, who has amassed a war chest of $509,067 of cash on hand. Money matters in an election and Kirkpatrick has $836,927 in cash and Heinz has $493,797 in cash. Read Kirkpatrick & Heinz Lead in CD2 Congress Fundraising, Marquez-Peterson Catching UpThe GOP considers Kirkpatrick to be the front-runner.

Kovacs connects

But that didn’t matter to the partisan crowd at the candidate forum. Kovacs appeared to connect with the audience, drawing repeated applause, especially for opposing the militarization of the Mexico border.

“I don’t think we should increase the Border Patrol. If we want to stop the flow of migrants, we have to support South American countries, taking the diplomatic solution, and increasing foreign aid to those countries to stabilize those counties,” Kovacs said. “We shouldn’t send MS-13 gang members back into those countries because it destabilizes their countries.”

Kovacs called for campaign finance reform, saying, “If this is not changed in this country, a lot of these things will be pushed back. We need to make sure the representation comes back to the people and not to corporations. I signed a pledge from day 1 of my campaign that I will not take corporate money.”

Regarding mass incarceration, Kovacs said, “We need to get corporations out of the federal penal system. If we want to address economic inequality, we need to help the 230,000 people who are felons in Arizona and can’t get a job. We also need to address the bail system to make sure it is at a level where people can afford bail. It should be based on income.” He added a crowd-pleaser, “Republicans aren’t pro-life, they’re pro-birth. You can tie education outcomes to recidivism, that what mass incarceration does.”

CD2 candidates Barbara Sherry, Bruce Wheeler and Ann Kirkpatrick

Wheeler emphasizes affordable healthcare

Wheeler opposed the border wall, calling it, “an expensive, divisive, racist system that does not reflect the values of America. I grew up in South America, and I understand this from a personal point of view.”

He called for making healthcare affordable for all Americans. “We spend $3.2 trillion on healthcare —  the highest per capita of any nation on this globe. Yet 27 million Americans are uninsured. Corporations must pay their fair share. There should be a 6.2% income-based health care premium paid by employers.” Wheeler supports Medicare for All.

He favored strengthening the Dodd-Frank law and ending Trump’s tariffs. “We’ve seen Wall Street dominate the Republican party and make inroads into the Democratic party. That is why those Democrats voted to water down Dodd- Frank. In 7 years, Obama had economy turned around, and now a narcissist president is taking credit —  when he is the biggest threat to the economy, particularly with the tariff war that separates us from our allies and the second largest economy in the world — China. That will have a devastating consequences.”

“When the tax cut was passed in December by the Republicans, it added a $1.1 trillion deficit. They have a master plan — you know they’re coming after Medicare and Social Security — with cuts already in Medicare.”

He was the only candidate to mention climate change. “The existential thing in front of us now is climate warming, and the federal budget does not do anything for sustainability. It still has a $52 billion subsidy for fossil fuels, and that is an abomination that must be ended.”

He opposed mass incarceration. “We’re investing in prisons instead of education. Imagine a world that that is turned around.”

“The US has highest per capita and numerical total of incarceration in the world. This is a travesty that must be addressed. Republicans believe in draconian mandatory sentencing. As a result, Arizona has 62,000 Americans in prison. Since 1992, that is a 171% increase. We are the leader in the privatization of prisons. It’s an abomination that a prison would profit from incarceration. I have fought this in the legislature and will fight this in Congress. Arizona has a $1 billion corrections budget — 11% of the state budget. The state is spending over $50,000 per prison inmate, compared to $7,000 per pupil. It robs us of our youth, our beauty, and our values.”

Matiella goes a step further

Mary Matiella and Kovacs agreed on many points, such as opposing the militarization of the border and fighting income equality. She agreed with Wheeler on opposing mass incarceration. But she went a step further each time:

“Mass incarceration is a personal issue for me. I have had many close relatives that have gone to prison for almost nothing. The one word I didn’t hear, the real reason for mass incarceration, is racism. Brown people are in jail at much higher rates than others because they don’t have the money to defend themselves.”

“Another thing is that we need to decriminalize what put them into prison, we need to decriminalize marijuana.  It’s not as dangerous as alcohol, but it’s to put people of color into prison. Among African Americans, 1 in 3 is incarcerated in their lifetime. What is wrong with that picture? It’s poverty, it’s racism. We have to hold justice system accountable for that.”

“We have to train children in preschool, in neighborhoods, and in churches, to start telling people that just because a person is different, it doesn’t mean you have to fear them. We need to have social education where we become more mindful and train the population to be more mindful, and not to be afraid of people who look different and act different, because in their hearts, they are like us.”

“What hurts our economy is income inequality,” Matiella said. “Over last 40 years, wages have not kept up with inflation. The people hurt the most are the younger generation. They have college debt, they can’t afford to buy a house, and can’t buy a car. In order to reverse income equality, we need a minimum wage of $15. These folks have to pay rent, but they can’t even pay rent. Let’s give them a salary that’s aligned with their efforts. Right now, the profits are staying at the top. You have CEOs making 300 times the average employee. That is wrong.”

Kirkpatrick booed and heckled

The audience booed Kirkpatrick for her apparent support of ICE, for her attack mailers and ads against Heinz, and she was heckled repeatedly. (Personally, I think hecklers should be ejected. There is no place for this abusive behavior in the Democratic party.)

Regarding the Mexico border, she said, “I’ll tell you what doesn’t work and that’s a wall. 30% of the economy in Southern Arizona comes from Mexico. We have to pass comprehensive immigration reform so that the Border Patrol can focus on criminal activity. I’m a former prosecutor and I have zero tolerance for drug cartels and criminals. I introduced legislation that would say if you’re hired and employed in this country, you have legal status and have a choice to get green card or citizenship.”

As for the unpopular Rosemont mine proposal, she said, “I took a public position opposing the Rosemont mine. I’m not closed to all mining. It’s appropriate in some places. I’ve long opposed uranium mining in Grand Canyon, and the current administration proposing it.”

She defended support of the Oak Flat land swap for the Resolution copper mine in 2016. “When (Senator John) McCain and (Republican Rep. Paul) Gosar were going to pass it, I inserted myself into plan to include environmental compliance before the land swap could take place. This took the sacred Apache site out of the legislation and said we must have consulations with the tribe to protect Oak Flat. The tribe wanted to continue to harvest acorns there and that was put in legislation. There is a lot of misunderstanding about that legislation. President Obama signed it because it had those protections in it. That area has richest copper deposit in the world, but I made sure it was mined while protecting the environment, protecting the people and keeping it sustainable. That’s in fact what happened.”

Kirkpatrick addressed her former support for the NRA, saying, “We have to stop the NRA. When Gabby (former Congress member Gabby Giffords) was shot and injury, and the judge (federal Judge John Roll) was killed, I re-evaluated my position and changed my mind and the way I vote. I supported legislation to increase background checks, to keep guns away from people on terror watch list, and supported legislation to kept guns away from domestic abusers.”

Heinz called for incremental steps towards Medicare for All, taking the profit motive out of healthcare, strengthening Dodd-Frank banking protections for consumers, opposing a balanced budget amendment, and opposing the NRA.

Sherry said she supported the Dodd-Frank law, taxing rich people more among other things. As before, she really didn’t express any coherent thoughts. For example, she said, “I’m the unknown candidate. I marched in anti-Vietnam War protests We’re headed into a dark place. We’ve got Kavanaugh waiting in the wings.”




  1. Kirkpatrick made “Newsweek”…


    Arizona democratic candidate Ann Kirkpatrick, who is running in the state’s 2nd Congressional District, was booed multiple times during a debate Thursday night when she gave answers in support of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

    Answering questions alongside five of her democratic primary opponents, Kirkpatrick was first booed after the moderator of the debate asked which candidates would support “ICE agents without any increased oversight.”

    Kirkpatrick was immediately booed by the crowd after she was the only one to raise her hand, according to a heavily edited video of the event.

    Not once…

    Not twice…


    Her website does not mention a policy stance on ICE, which has seen increased calls for the agency to be dissolved by an “Occupy ICE” movement. Several prominent Democrats like Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand and Bernie Sanders have called for abolishing the agency, along with 19 high-profile ICE agents and leaders who signed a letter asking Homeland Security to eliminate the agency.


    • And…

      I received another mailer (second in less than two weeks) from Ann Kirkpatrick attacking Matt Heinz for “voting with the NRA” in a further attempt to project her own history as an enthusiastic NRA supporter on to Mr. Heinz.

    • And back in 2010, Ann Kirkpatrick defends SB1070 and talks about the border @1:50, boasts A rating from NRA @3:58.

    • This is from July 5, but I didn’t know about this until now. So, it’s not just an “endorsement”. The DCCC is pumping money into the campaign of the candidate who already has the most money, two months ahead of the primary. They really think they can buy this…

      National Dems back congressional candidate Ann Kirkpatrick with TV ad
      By Joe Ferguson Arizona Daily Star Jul 5, 2018

      All’s fair in love, war and politics and the gloves are off in the Congressional District 2 race, at least in the seven-way fight for the Democratic nomination next month.

      The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee put its thumb on the scale last week when it partnered with former Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick’s campaign on a television ad touting her opposition to GOP tax cuts and cuts to public health programs.

      The ad cements the worst kept secret in local political circles, that national groups including the DCCC were ready to support the former Flagstaff Democrat in her bid for Martha McSally’s seat here in Tucson.

      It isn’t news that the group whose primary mission is to back Democratic House candidates is involved in CD2 — they’ve been active in years past —but picking Kirkpatrick nearly two months before the primary is unusual.

      It isn’t unheard of, though, as the DCCC has backed a handful of candidates across the country ahead of the primary.


    • It is not unusual for the congressional campaign committees to pick a “winner” before the primary. That’s why I never give them any of my money. They should not try to influence the outcome of a primary. Backing Ms Kirkpatrick is an easy call for the DCCC because she is a House “alumna ,” and has the support of another former House member. Give it a rest and ignore DCCC until after the primary. Regarding abolishing ICE, give that a rest too. Here are three reasons:
      1. If ICE didn’t exist it would have to be created. It needs to be reformed, and it’s leadership needs to be cleaned out. It was wrong for the ICE employee union to back Trump in the election, and probably a violation of the Hatch Act which is supposed to preclude the participation of government employees in partisan politics. A house cleaning is long overdue. Lots of ICE officers seem to enjoy the more repressive activities the Turmp Administration hasthrust upon them.
      2. The “abolish ICE movement” just waves a white flag in front of Trumpkins and gives them a reason to support him. Why should we give them any help?
      3. A careful investigation by a House of Representatives under Democratic control will quickly put ICE on a shorter leash, doing what they’re supposed to do; but it wont happen if the Dems don’t win enough seats.
      Lets keep the long game in mind. The important election is in November. The Dems must win the House. Even George Will has said that! Andwe need to make sure that the Dems take the CD2 seat.

      • Certainly it is the responsibility of the DCCC to identify competitive districts and make sure there are electable Democratic candidates. But when electable candidates who actually live in the district step up, then the DCCC doesn’t need to make the pick, and they should support the people’s choice after the primary. The national Democrats rammed Hillary down our throats, and that should have been a lesson learned.

        On abolishing ICE, I think that the people who organize, moderate, and attend these Democratic candidate forums tend to be progressive Democrats and political junkies. The issues they address in these forums are not necessarily going to be the most important issues for most voters going into the election. In fact, with the rate at which Trump et al are trashing the country, it’s hard to say right now what voters will be most concerned about on election day.

        You’re right, of course, that the most important thing right now is to vote out the Republicans.

  2. Having been out of Arizona for a few weeks, I appreciated the update in the CD2 Democratic race. It’s good to know that we have good alternatives to Ms. Kirkpatrick. I will be happy to support her if she wins the primary, but my primary vote will go elsewhere. Remember we really need to flip this seat and get the House back in responsible Democratic hands. However the Democratic party needs some revitalization in both membership and leadership in Congress. We really need to get out there and support our favorite candidate in the primary, but be ready to work like hell for the Democratic nominee in the fall. He or she will need every Democratic vote and a lot of independent votes to flip the district.

  3. Kovacs was indeed the crowd favorite on July 19 candidate forum per Represent Me AZ comment on FB: “For those who are interested, the results of our very scientific audience survey are in. The winner for our July 19th Candidate Forum was Billy Kovacs! Congratulations, Billy. The audience appreciated your well thought out answers to our questions. 2nd place went to the winner of our last Forum, Bruce Wheeler. Thank you also to Mary Sally Matiella, Dr. Matt Heinz for Arizona, Barb Sherry and Ann Kirkpatrick who endured a fiesty crowd to allow CD2 voters have access to the Candidates in order to make the most informed choice.
    We want to thank all of the people who helped to put together our Candidate Forum, including the audience and of course the Candidates.
    Bob Phillips and the Veterans For Peace Tucson Chapter 13 for always so graciously making us feel safe and cared for.
    Jorgiana Jake for donating her time and equipment to provide the projection of Candidates on the screen.
    Libby Tobey, Shannon Riggs Jennifer Koenen Radler, Jennifer Tobey Hodges, Stephanie Ped, Travonne Smith and her daughters, Scout Radler, Gail Kamaras, Bonnie Heidler, Mike Heidler, Shelley Edson, Brenda Wexler whose volunteering made the event run so smoothly! We could not do what we do without you!!
    Bill Yohey, Brendan Griffin, and Luis Oquendo for standing in the hot & muggy grounds to direct people to the parking lot and auditorium.
    Adena B. Lees and Kristyn Randel for keeping the time!
    Lawinna McGary for tweeting.
    Also, the members of the press who continue to write about the Candidates and Forums – Dylan Smith & Paul M. Ingram of the TucsonSentinel, Joe Ferguson of the Arizona Daily Star, Ronald J. Hansen of the The Arizona Republic, Danyelle Khmara of the Tucson Weekly. Also to blogger Larry Bodine from Blog For Arizona.
    As we continue to strive for accurate, accessible and transparent representation of our District and State, we are humbled by your service to your community.
    Please stay tuned in the coming week for the announcement of our Twitter Town Hall roll out!”
    Your Represent Me AZ Board
    Marion Chubon
    Lizzy Mb Berman
    DeeDee Koenen
    Jenni Pagano
    Bryna Koch

  4. 1. Is Ya still in the race ? No comment on his not being there

    2. I was at 2 prior forums. Can’t that group find a better moderator? He is trrrible.

  5. Very good summary, and much appreciated. I think we need to not miss the importance of what Mary Matiella says about racism.
    I also, personally, disagree with you about hecklers. Heckling is free speech, as long as it stays verbal.

  6. I agree with Mr. Bodine that Billy Kovacs is likely to be voted the crowd favorite this time. He’s a very charismatic young man, has good progressive values, and he gave several thoughtful, well-articulated answers. If he were to make it all the way to Washington DC, I think CD2 would be just fine.

    It’s interesting that Billy sat at one end of the table and Ann Kirkpatrick at the other, because they are polar opposites in many ways.

    Quite frankly, I see no reason to vote for Ann Kirkpatrick and not just because she’s an outsider handpicked by the Democratic leadership.

    Most of her answers were weak and her Mean Girl attacks on Matt Heinz were not befitting a legislator. (Ex: “Do we have a real doctor in this campaign?”) She also tried to project her own NRA history on to Mr. Heinz who responded, “I’ve treated gunshot wounds.” Ka-pow!! To be honest, I didn’t track all the sniping, but it did seem to me that Matt played more defense than offense.

    (to be continued)

    • Continued…

      Providing healthcare to all of our citizens is one of the most important issues for Democrats. Ann K’s solution to the problem is to let people buy into Medicare at any age. Keep the VA and Indian Health Services the way they are. Okay, that’s fine. But she doesn’t want to touch employer provided insurance that covers 140 million Americans.

      Well, that kind of blows up the idea of Medicare for All or any form of universal coverage. In fact, that kind of guarantees that things will remain as they are, a profit driven healthcare system controlled by private insurers. And the 27 million who are still uninsured can somehow “buy into Medicare.”

      I won’t enumerate all the disagreements I have with Ann Kirkpatrick’s answers. Suffice it to say that I see her as Republican-lite.

      But I have to say that I was actually surprised when she brought up her “reason” for switching from an enthusiastic NRA supporter to whatever she is now.
      Her sudden enlightenment on this issue occurred when her friend Gabrielle Giffords got shot. It finally happened to someone she knew.

      I would have thought that AK would have stopped saying this by now, but apparently she is unaware of how offensive it is. It is as though all the people who got shot before Gabrielle Giffords didn’t matter to her. Good grief, how can anyone be so tone deaf and so insensitive?

      I really hope she loses this primary.

        • Hi, John,
          My describing Ms. Kirkpatrick’s politics as Republican-lite was not intended as a smear, certainly not in this context. Conservative Democrats are often referred to that way.

          How do you describe liberal Republicans? Oh, wait. There aren’t any. (Now there’s your swipe.) 🙂 🙂

  7. Good article, Mr. Bodine, I have some thoughts about the candidate forum (as you might imagine) which I will perhaps share later.

    For now I just want to applaud Represent Me AZ for the terrific work they are doing for CD2 Democratic voters by organizing and presenting these forums. Thank you for all you do, @RepresentMeAZ. Y’all are so good. 🙂

  8. I don’t understand Kirkpatrick’s statement on Rosemont Mine. She “took a public position opening it?” Could you clarify? I care about this issue.

    Thanks for covering this!

    • My apologies for the typo! I just corrected it to read “opposing the Rosemont mine.”
      I run my articles through spell-check, Grammarly, have my wife proofread them, and read a printout before I publish an article, and still mistakes happen. Argh.

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