Arizona’s first congressional district will be one of the hardest fought, most competitive races in the country, and the money is already coming in to prove it.
Arizona House Speaker Andy Tobin of Paulden, freshman state Rep. Adam Kwasman of Oro Valley and businessman Gary Kiehne of Springerville are the three Republicans vying for the chance to take on Democratic U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick.
But Kirkpatrick will be tough to beat. She has already stockpiled more than $824,000 in her campaign coffers, significantly more than the three Republicans combined. In 2013, she spent $92,000 on her campaign, more cash than Kwasman has on hand. She also outraised all the other candidates during the reporting period, taking in more than $268,000, including almost $110,000 from political committees. And unlike the Republicans in the race, who will have to spend everything they have now and more against each other in the primary election, Kirkpatrick can use all her money toward the November 2014 general election.
On the Republican side, Tobin topped the fundraising. He pulled in more than $232,000 in contributions, and ended the year with more than $191,000 on hand. Much of that money came from lobbyists at the state Capitol, and $29,000 came from political committees. Though he raised the most money, Tobin may have picked much of the low hanging fruit in fundraising by tapping Capitol lobbyists. The other candidates were quick to point out that they expected Tobin to raise more in the first reporting period.
Kiehne, however, actually ended the year with more cash on hand, nearly $211,000. But that high number is due to a $100,000 loan he made to himself. He pulled in $172,000 in contributions since entering the race, with most of the money coming from Texas, where he owns an oil business. Kiehne also spent the most of any of the three Republicans, dishing out more than $57,000 to get his campaign moving.
Kwasman originally reported raising $113,000 in contributions but later made some large-scale amendments to his report, leaving him with only $102,000 total contributions and $79,000 cash on hand. In his amended report, which Kwasman filed three days after the original, he subtracted $9,000 each from three transactions, changing the contribution amounts from $10,000 to $1,000 for a total of $18,000 difference. He also reported giving himself an additional $3,000, for a total of more than $5,500. Like Kiehne, he received no money from political committees. But in stark contrast to Kiehne, most of Kwasman’s individual contributions came from Tucson. Kwasman also spent the least of any candidate in the race, a total of $22,000, though he originally reported spending only $14,000.
Kwasman downplayed the amendments, saying he accidentally added a zero to a few contributions, made some additional contributions to his own campaign and found a box of receipts he previously forgot to report. But it is far from Kwasman’s first mistake.
Nearly every official action Kwasman has had to take as a candidate, he has done wrong. First, he filed his statement of candidacy a week after he was required to do so by federal regulations, then he didn’t follow through with the second step of the process by filing a statement of organization and designating an official candidate committee, until two weeks after that deadline. During that period, he was operating a campaign that did not exist as far as the Federal Election Commission was concerned. Kwasman said he has since hired a campaign treasurer to handle his paperwork.