WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. | The House GOP’s agenda has tilted so far right that it’s creating opportunities for Democrats to try to reclaim seats they lost just a few months ago, said Ann Kirkpatrick, the first former member of Congress to announce that she would seek a rematch in 2012.
Mrs. Kirkpatrick, who served one term before she was ousted in the tea party surge that powered Republicans in 2010, said Rep. Paul A. Gosar, who unseated her, has forsaken local concerns about veterans and local projects in order to back the national GOP on votes to defund public radio, slow education spending and embrace public works projects.
“This is a moderate district and they want a moderate voice, and it’s really evident that Congressman Gosar is more interested in toeing the national party line than representing the district,” Mrs. Kirkpatrick told The Washington Times.
Rematches instantly become marquee races in any election, and Mrs. Kirkpatrick’s bid isn’t the only replay shaping up just four months into the 112th Congress: Former Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, a Democrat, said she is running for the seat she lost last year to Republican Frank C. Guinta in New Hampshire, and Democrats Kathy Dahlkemper of Pennsylvania, Dina Titus of Nevada, Debbie Halvorson of Illinois, Mary Jo Kilroy of Ohio and Dan Maffei of New York are reportedly considering bids for their former congressional seats.
Some of those rematches could be complicated by the redrawing of congressional districts to reflect the 2010 census. In Arizona, that means the 1st Congressional District, which sprawls across most of the eastern half of the state but skirts major metropolitan areas, could look dramatically different come next year.
Mrs. Kirkpatrick said a rematch wasn’t always on her mind.
“I really wanted to just sort of give him some time to get himself established and to represent the district. And then when I started hearing from people about meetings with him and his refusal to champion these projects, that’s really what made me get involved,” she said. “He wants to defund public education, cut Medicare-Social Security, refusing to fund homeless veterans, refusing to fund Head Start.”
A week’s worth of requests for an interview or comment, left with Mr. Gosar’s congressional and campaign offices, went unanswered.
Mr. Gosar is already a top Democratic target. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee accuses him in a telephone campaign of pushing to cut Medicare and Social Security benefits “in the middle of a recession.” FactCheck.org called the campaign “deceptive.”
On a warm morning last week, Mrs. Kirkpatrick was in Window Rock to watch the opening of the Navajo Nation Council’s spring session, along with Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, a New Mexico Democrat whose district includes portions of the tribal reservation.
Mr. Gosar did not attend the session, which included an address by Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly. Council members repeatedly praised Mr. Lujan and Mrs. Kirkpatrick for their presence, saying they have been good friends in Washington.View Entire Story
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