In a showcase of post-primary unity, Kyrsten Sinema announced the endorsements of two high-profile supporters of her opponents in the Democratic primary for Arizona’s 9th Congressional District.
Mesa City Councilman Dennis Kavanaugh, who endorsed Andrei Cherny in the primary, and former Congressman Harry Mitchell, whose endorsement gave David Schapira a late boost, threw their support behind Sinema on Monday at a press conference at the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association. Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, who stayed neutral in the primary, also announced his endorsement of Sinema.
Mitchell, a two-term congressman, former legislator and former Tempe mayor, said he endorsed Schapira because the Senate minority leader represents him in the Legislature and is from Tempe.
“But I think it’s even more important now to get somebody now in Congress who will represent Tempe, even though they may not be from Tempe, who I’m convinced will represent Tempe as well as anyone could,” Mitchell said.
“Maybe not me,” he joked, drawing a few laughs from the crowd.
Kavanaugh said Cherny is a close personal friend, but that CD9 had three strong Democratic candidates.
“Kyrsten’s pragmatic approach to politics is something I really see every day in working at the local level and I want to see more of at the national level,” Kavanaugh said.
Kavanaugh said his district has gone through several years with “little or no representation from the congressional side,” a reference to Congressman Jeff Flake and his aversion to earmarks and other federal spending projects, even for his own district. He chided former Paradise Valley Mayor Vernon Parker, the Republican nominee in CD9, for opposing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act – better known as the stimulus package – which he said benefited Mesa more than most cities in Arizona.
Parker spokesman Brian Murray could not immediately be reached for comment.
Stanton said the wealth of strong candidates in the primary led him to stay neutral, and noted that he has close relationships with candidates in the GOP primary as well, such as former Chandler City Councilman Martin Sepulveda. Sinema, he said, will work to make sure that Phoenix gets its fair share of federal funds and grants for things like law enforcement, transportation and the Head Start program.
“We need a partnership with the federal government. Cities need representatives who understand that they need to go to bat for the people in the communities that they represent. Kyrsten Sinema is going to be a warrior in Congress,” Stanton said.
Sinema committed to working toward bipartisan solutions in Congress, a consistent theme of her campaign.
“I think my experience in the state Legislature would make today no surprise. I work hard to find areas where people can work together, and I believe that regardless of whether we supported different candidates earlier or we’re of different parties that we can always come together to do what’s right for Arizona,” she said.
Parker spokesman Brian Murray said he didn’t put much stock in Sinema’s endorsements from Democrats who aren’t on the ballot this year, and questioned why she hadn’t yet received an endorsement from Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Richard Carmona.
“A bunch of Democrats who don’t have their names on the ballot, I’m not surprised that they would get behind her,” Murray said. “We’ve got a whole truckload of Republicans who have endorsed Vernon. A lot of them have their names on the ballot. Where is her support?”
Murray also said Parker believes the 2009 federal stimulus failed because it did not reduce unemployment.