Recently, former Mayor of Tempe and State Senator Harry Mitchell was enduced into entering the Congressional race against J.D. Hayworth in Arizona’s District 5. Though some were sore about the way the recruitment was handled, the result is that the competitiveness of the CD 5 race has been upgraded from a ‘safe Republican’ to a ‘leans Republican’. In an election year that may well be characterized by catagory 5 voter anger at the GOP majority, such a district, which has seen demographic changes that has brought it within reach of Democrats, might see a surprise win.
As is sadly the case, such upsets don’t happen without a significant investment of capital, both the political and financial kinds. Harry was brought into the race already having a great deal of the former, but it was not certain whether he could turn that into the latter.
Mitchell’s fundraising for the first quarterly report of his campaign plainly demostrates that he is doing very well in the money race against Hayworth. Mitchell raised over $213,000, all of it in just the last month of the quarter. If Mitchell’s pace accellerates in the next quarter, as I suspect it will, look for a squeaker come election day. Meanwhile Mitchell has spent very little, his major outlays being to put up a website and to hire a fundraiser. Mitchell is focusing on what’s important early on.
Mitchell’s fundraising compares favorably to Hayworth’s take for the quarter of $277,000 as an incumbent, with an established fundraising base, over the course of the whole quarter, not just a few weeks at the end. Of course, Hayworth now has almost 700K on hand, and it won’t be hard for him to pickup PAC money just for the asking. Money troubles won’t be Hayworth’s problem; translating dollars into votes with Mitchell hammering on his record will be his trouble.
Mitchell is showing the ability to convert political capital in dollars that it will take to turn out an incumbent like Hayworth. When combined with Hayworth’s odious voting record, extreme right wing views, snuggling up to the Minutemen, and his odious book on immigration, it might be enough for Mitchell to give Democrats another win in Arizona this year. With opposition to Renzi in once winnable CD1 collapsing, wins in CDs 8 and 5 are even more critical to give Democrats 2 of the 15 seats needed to take back the House – more than our share by any measure.