Arizona’s Democrats Lead Republicans in Donations For the First Time in Decades

By Camaron Stevenson

April 23, 2020

Arizona Republicans received fewer donations than Democrats for the first time in more than 20 years.

Conservative dark money groups are expected to pour millions into Arizona’s upcoming elections, narrowing the financial lead Democrats have gained over the past several months.

At least three different organizations have announced plans to focus a portion of their political spending on Arizona’s senate race between Republican Sen. Martha McSally and Democratic opponent Mark Kelly. Kelly’s war chest is twice the size of McSally’s, reporting a reserve of $20 million in the bank earlier this month.

McSally is considered to be one of the most vulnerable Republicans in the Senate, putting the party’s slim majority at risk.

To protect his place as Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, R-KY, is directing $5.7 million from The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) into Arizona’s senate race. Super PAC DefendArizona, which receives funding from the NRSC, is putting more than $9 million behind McSally.

While a majority of NRSC spending goes to media buys, the group has also donated directly to McSally’s campaign, signaling a shift to a heavier-handed approach than with her predecessor. McSally has received $92,000 from the NRSC since 2018; only $127,800 was donated to former Sen. John McCain’s campaign throughout his entire career.

“It’s no surprise that corporate interests and Mitch McConnell-linked groups are willing to spend millions to keep Martha McSally’s vote in the U.S. Senate,” said Arizona Democratic Party spokesperson Brad Bainum. “She has voted to let her health insurance industry backers charge Arizonans more for coverage and prioritized big tax cuts for her billionaire backers.”

But the fundraising deficit isn’t McSally’s alone: the Arizona Republican Party received fewer donations than the Arizona Democratic Party for the first time in more than 20 years. At its peak in 2000, 75 percent of Arizona’s political contributions went to Republicans. Only 40 percent of the state’s donations have gone towards the GOP in 2020.

But party insiders aren’t worried about the economic disparity. Brian Murray, a GOP consultant who previously served as the state party’s executive director, told the Arizona Mirror that outside funding was not only necessary, but welcomed.

“Of course, we’d like [McSally] to raise as much money as possible,” Murray said. “But at the end of the day, considering the resources and the cavalry is on its way, I’m not that worried.”

Murray added that, unless both McSally and President Donald Trump’s races became competitive, state Republicans had nothing to worry about.
But alarm bells might be ringing for state Republicans, as recent polls show both Kelly and Democratic presidential challenger Joe Biden enjoying a nine-point lead on their opponents.

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  • Camaron Stevenson

    Camaron is the Founding Editor and Chief Political Correspondent for The Copper Courier, and has worked as a journalist in Phoenix for over a decade. He also teaches multimedia journalism at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.



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