The race to fill the open congressional seat in Arizona’s sprawling 1st Congressional District has become an expensive one, with nearly all of the money coming from elsewhere.
Democratic former Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick has raised more than $1.3 million since launching her campaign to regain the seat she lost in 2010.
And Republican Jonathan Paton has collected $543,000.
But a closer inspection of their campaign finance reports reveals that only a small slice of their swollen war chests has come from within the district those candidates hope to represent.
Of the campaigns’ itemized contributions, which track those greater than $200, only 1 percent of Paton’s contributions — and only 10 percent of Kirkpatrick’s — comes from inside the expansive rural district.
The low median income in CD1, particularly among the Native American communities that comprise a quarter of the district’s population — and the fact that successful congressional campaigns typically require hundreds of thousands of dollars — were cited by the campaigns as at least partially explaining the high out-of-district contributions.
Paton, who only recently moved into the district from Tucson and whose funding has come mostly from Tucson, Phoenix, Scottsdale and Paradise Valley, pointed out that CD1 was hit especially hard by the recent recession.
“Believe me, lots of people want to help us,” Paton said. “The bottom line is the economy has fallen more in rural Arizona than any other part of the state.”
At many campaign events in the district, Paton said he’s received lots of low-dollar contributions, which do not get tallied in campaign reports by location, and which are compiled in bulk as “unitemized” contributions.
“People give me whatever support they can, whether that’s $10 or $20,” Paton said, far below the $200 threshold to create an itemized campaign finance record.
Given the reporting guidelines, there is no way to track whether the campaigns are receiving lots of small donations from district voters.
And many of Paton’s out-of-district contributors do business in CD1, where mining, agriculture and tourism are key industries, the former state lawmaker said.
Paton also didn’t miss the opportunity to point out that, although 99 percent of his campaign funding comes from outside CD1, roughly 90 percent of it comes from within Arizona.
Kirkpatrick, on the other hand, has received a large portion of her funding from outside the state, with about $250,000 coming from the Washington, D.C. area.
The vast majority of Kirkpatrick’s money from Washington comes from political action committees.
Jennifer Johnson, Kirkpatrick’s spokeswoman, said a victory in such a financially depressed district simply relies on raising money from lots of sources, including outside the district.
“To win a district like this, you have to build a broad coalition, and Ann’s getting it done,” Johnson said.
Johnson dismisses any criticism about whether the former congresswoman is beholden to out-of-state contributors, rather than residents of the district.
“Ann Kirkpatrick was born and raised here. She’s run a small business here. She raised her family here,” Johnson said. “And you can tell a politician’s priorities by who and what they fight for.”
One example of Kirkpatrick putting her district’s interests first, Johnson said, was her vote against the Democratic-led 2009 “cap and trade” legislation that could have created additional costs for mining businesses in the district, even though it brought criticism from her Democratic colleagues.
|Paton Contributions Top 10|
|By State||By City|
|District of Columbia||$3,000||Spring, TX||$10,000|
|Kirkpatrick Contributions Top 10|
|By State||By City|
|District of Columbia||$222,156||Phoenix||$147,135|
CD1 campaign contributions mapped
Click on the map to see how much money has been contributed to Kirkpatrick from each zip code:
Click on the map to see how much money has been contributed to Paton from each zip code: