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Kirkpatrick Added To DCCC's Red To Blue List

Democratic state Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, running to succeed retiring Rep. Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.), is the latest addition to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s Red to Blue program, which helps candidates with fundraising and campaign infrastructure.

The move signals that Fitzpatrick, who faces a contested primary against two Democratic challengers, is picking up the overwhelming support of the party establishment — and enters the September primary as the heavy favorite to win the nomination.

“Ann’s experience in city, county and state government and her commitment to promoting economic development, while protecting Arizona’s environment, will make her an effective voice for clean government and change,” said DCCC chairman Chris Van Hollen said in a statement.

The DCCC endorsement comes one week after Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano (D) also gave Kirkpatrick her backing.

Renzi’s expansive eastern Arizona seat is one of the Democrats’ top pickup opportunities, particularly in light of the incumbent’s ethical problems and Republican recruiting difficulties in the district. The Republicans’ leading recruit, state Rep. Bill Konopnicki, abruptly dropped out of the race earlier in the year, and several other prospective candidates have opted not to run.

Conservative activist Sydney Hay now looks like the party’s likely nominee, but many Republican operatives are concerned about her fundraising ability and electability in a general election, given her outspoken conservative viewpoints.

The district, which extends from the sparsely populated Navajo nation down to the fast-growing Phoenix suburbs of Pinal County, is one of the largest in the country. It has favored Republicans at the national level, voting for President Bush with 54 percent of the vote in 2004.

But Democrats have a 32,000 voter registration advantage due to the presence of many conservative-minded voters who vote Democratic locally but prefer Republicans at the national level.