After fewer than six months in the Legislature, Republican Rep. Adam Kwasman of Oro Valley announced today he is considering a run for the US House in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District in 2014.
Though he had only one bill signed into law during his freshman year in the Arizona House, Kwasman boasted of his “proven track record” in the Legislature, and bashed the current congresswoman, Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick, as a career politician.
“I don’t believe that career politicians should be the mark of a good member of Congress. The current congresswoman served two terms in the (state) Legislature and voted for Obamacare (in Congress). I don’t need to serve in the Legislature to know that was going to be detrimental,” he said.
Kwasman is the first Republican candidate to declare he is seeking the office, and he touted his campaign co-chairs for his committee, which includes state representatives and city council people from across the district, including two of the Republicans who voted for Medicaid expansion in the Legislature.
“I think those who represent us in Congress have to have a large swath of support from different aspects of the Republican Party, and the Democratic Party, frankly, and the Libertarians and Greens,” he said.
Kwasman’s list of accomplishments in the Arizona House is brief, given his short time in the Legislature, but Kwasman said he accomplished what he promised constituents he would, and is ready for a new challenge.
“I don’t think we have any more time to waste, the recession has gone on long enough and we need someone in Congress who really understands economics,” he said.
Kwasman pointed to a bill that was signed into law offering a compromise to settle a longstanding dispute between Marana and Pima County over costs of their joint wastewater treatment facility.
He was also was one of 47 sponsors of the original version of Gov. Jan Brewer’s sales tax reform bill, and he heard the measure in Ways and Means Committee, of which he is co-chair.
Kwasman said he cut his teeth in political debate and showed that he is willing to fight hard for conservative values during his staunch opposition to Brewer’s Medicaid expansion plan, which was eventually approved by both chambers of the Legislature by a bipartisan coalition.
Kwasman first came onto the Arizona political scene in 2010, as the manager of Republican Jesse Kelly’s losing congressional campaign against former Democratic U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. He was unopposed in the Republican primary for the stanchly Republican Legislative District 11 in 2012.
Kwasman said he has no intention of resigning from the Legislature to run for Congressional District 1.
His decision to stick it out in the Legislature, however, highlights the technical nuances between state and federal campaign finance laws.
Arizona’s resign to run law prohibits elected officials who are not in the final year of their term from officially running for another office, though the law does permit “exploratory committees” which allow elected officials planning to run for a new office to organize a campaign committee and start collecting money and signatures to get on the ballot.
As it stands currently, the law is triggered if an elected official makes a “formal, public declaration of candidacy” for the new office, though a bill approved this year will erase that provision when it takes effect in September.
The law, however, has never been enforced.
Under federal regulations, candidates may “test the waters” without actually filing a candidate committee. However, if the candidate raises more than $5,000, they are required to file an actual candidate committee, which would theoretically trigger Arizona’s resign to run law.
CD1 is Arizona’s largest district, and stretches the northeast corner of the state through Flagstaff, Sedona and Camp Verde, all along the eastern portion of the state, and into the areas south of Phoenix, through Casa Grande and into Oro Valley and Marana, north of Tucson.
CD1 is sure to be one of the most watched congressional races in the country, and Republicans have the district in their sites as one of the best chances to knock off a sitting Democrat. Though Democrats have a voter registration advantage of 38.4 percent to the Republicans’ 30.7 percent, the GOP sees Kirkpatrick as vulnerable in 2014.
Kirkpatrick was first elected to Congress in 2008, but then lost the seat in the Republican wave of 2010. She returned to Washington in 2012 following a narrow victory over Republican Jonathan Paton.
The Rothenberg Political Report lists CD1 as a “toss-up/tilt Democrat” district.