As you already know, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is running for re-election in 2016. Democrats, however, aren’t giving him a free pass -- or letting him rest on his laurels.
As it happens, Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ) announced today she will officially challenge him when his number's called. And while the state is certainly favorable terrain for the five-term incumbent (although, in fairness, perhaps McCain should start fearing his own party more so than Democrats) the race is already starting to heat up.
“I am announcing my candidacy for the United States Senate,” Kirkpatrick told supporters today in a campaign video. “I respect John McCain’s service to our nation, I just believe our state’s changing. Arizonians should have a real choice who they send to the United States Senate.”
“I’m not naïve,” she added. “I know that Washington insiders are already trying to dig up dirt. But having grown up here, a little mud on my boots is part of life.”
Somewhat unexpectedly, however, Rep. Kirkpatrick overcame the red tsunami in 2014, thus winning her bid for re-election. But it seems factors beyond her control are inducing her to unseat McCain in 2016, despite her obvious talent for winning close (and GOP-friendly) elections (via Roll Call)
Kirkpatrick, 65, won re-election last fall in this district against all odds, defying a GOP wave that felled fellow moderate House Democrats. She has strong ties to the district’s Native American population, which made her uniquely able to carry the seat.
A case is also currently pending with the Supreme Court, which heard arguments earlier this year on whether the state’s congressional district lines — drawn by an independent redistricting commission —are unconstitutional. If the court throws out the current congressional map, Arizona’s districts are almost certain to become more favorable to Republicans, imperiling members such as Kirkpatrick.
A-ha. So politically, running for McCain’s seat might just be the best way for her to stay relevant, and keep her congressional career alive. We'll see.