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Heinz wants to boot Kirkpatrick off primary ballot over residence claims

Local Dems file to kick ex-congresswoman off candidate list

A trio of Tucson-area Democrats is trying to narrow the CD 2 primary field by getting the apparent front-runner booted off the ballot. Those pressing a lawsuit challenging the nominating petitions filed by Ann Kirkpatrick are supporters of candidate Matt Heinz, who said he backs the legal move.

The 13-page suit claims that Kirkpatrick, a former congresswoman from Flagstaff, doesn't live in Tucson as she stated in her petitions to earn a spot on the August ballot.

The challenge, filed in Maricopa County Superior Court on Monday, alleges that Kirkpatrick and her husband instead live in Phoenix near his law office.

Congressional representatives are not required by the U.S. Constitution to live in the district they are elected from — they only must reside in the state — but the suit drafted by Phoenix attorney Craig Morgan wants to have Kirkpatrick's name pulled off the list of Democratic primary candidates, with a judge tossing out any nominating petitions that include addresses in Southern Arizona.

The suit claims that "Kirkpatrick claims to actually reside in Southern Arizona. However, Kirkpatrick does not actually reside in Southern Arizona, but instead resides in Maricopa County .... Kirkpatrick has defrauded, misled, and confused the electorate...."

The suit, filed on behalf of Tucson-area voters Thomas Elias, his wife Regina Mireles-Elias, and Tuan Vo, maintains that Kirkpatrick's nominating papers are "invalid."

Vo is a public supporter of Heinz, a former state legislator who lost the 2016 general election to U.S. Rep. Martha McSally. Vo has contributed $5,400 to Heinz's campaign in this cycle, federal campaign finance records show. Mireles-Elias and her husband were featured in Heinz's campaign commercials last year, along with Tuan, the candidate said.

A spokesman for Kirkpatrick's campaign, Rodd McLeod, said emphatically Monday afternoon that "Ann Kirkpatrick lives in Tucson."

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"She's lived in Tucson since last spring. She rented a house on Woodspring (Drive), and then moved to an apartment on Shannon (Road) that she shares with her son," McLeod said.

"Apparently to run in District 2, you need to live in District 3," McLeod said, referencing a home owned by Heinz that sits in the cross-town congressional seat held by U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva.

McLeod said Monday that Kirkpatrick "has been followed around. The suit says something about her getting mail — what are you doing, looking in her mailbox?"

Kirkpatrick has a large lead in the fundraising race.

A statement released by Heinz said he was "supporting" the legal challenge to Kirkpatrick's candidacy, accusing her of "fraudulent activities" and "lies and cover-up" about where she lives. Spokesman Brian Robinson acknowledged that Heinz's campaign is funding the lawsuit.

'Carpetbagger'

Heinz's campaign has for a year drawn attention to Kirkpatrick's decision to register to vote and declare her candidacy in Southern Arizona last July, carefully avoiding the term while invoking the spirit of the "carpetbagger" charges made against her by Republicans.

Kirkpatrick won her previous district, which sprawls from the Utah border south to Flagstaff, encompassing much of Eastern Arizona and reaching all the way down to Oro Valley, in 2008, 2012 and 2014. She lost a race for that seat in 2010, and was swamped when she ran against U.S. Sen. John McCain in 2016.

Also in the race on the Democratic side are Mary Matiella, a former assistant Army secretary seeking elected office for the first time; and political newcomers Billy Kovacs, Barbara Sherry and Yahya Yuksel. Former state representative and ex-Tucson City Councilman Bruce Wheeler is again running in the Democratic congressional primary.

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1 comment on this story

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3 comments
Jun 17, 2018, 7:40 pm
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I think “carpetbagger” is a good word for what she is doing.  Renting? Why hasn’t she bought a house there? She used to represent District 1 and now she wants to represent District 2?  I do not consider her to be a good democrat.  She lies & then tries to clean it up (Resolution Copper).  I have always considered her a Republican in Dem’s clothing.  Ask her Native American constituents from the San Carlos Reservation what they think of her

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Paul Ingram/TucsonSentinel.com

Kirkpatrick at a February debate in Green Valley.