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Taking pulse of crowded race, Heinz to again run for McSally's seat

Ensuring that there'll be even more than 5-7 Democrats vying in the primary race to challenge Rep. Martha McSally for Arizona's CD2 congressional seat, Matt Heinz isn't waiting any longer: the doctor and 2016 Democratic candidate announced Tuesday that he's back for another try.

Heinz got 43 percent of the vote last November, as McSally pulled the widest margin in the Southeastern Arizona district in years. But CD 2 also is leaning slightly more Democratic, and voted for Hillary Clinton rather than Donald Trump — meaning McSally out-performed with her win.

Any Democrat will have some catching up to do in the fundraising race, as the second-term Republican has shown herself to be a powerhouse at pulling in campaign money.

Local political observers have been anticipating an announcement from Heinz, who's been quietly touting a poll that shows him favored over McSally 48-44 percent. The GOP congresswoman had a 53 percent disapproval rating in last month's survey by Public Policy Polling.

"Martha McSally and her friends in Washington have unified control of the government – but instead of fighting to make things better for everyday Arizonans – McSally has been too busy circling the wagons around Donald Trump," Heinz said in a campaign announcement.

Heinz is a former state lawmaker who ran unsuccessfully in the Democratic congressional primary in 2012. A medical doctor, he worked with the Obama administration promoting the rollout of the Affordable Care Act before returning to Tucson in 2015 to make another run as a candidate.

"As a physician trained in Southern Arizona, I was taught to listen," Heinz said. "I hear the fears and hopes of the people I treat. I hear about their lives, and I learn from them every day. Washington has lost its ability to listen. If we are ever going to get America back on track, that has to change, and that change starts right here."

Also in the race for 2018 are political newcomer Billy Kovacs, geologist Alison Jones, pilot and Air Force vet Jeff Latas (who lost to Gabrielle Giffords in the 2006 Democratic primary that sent her on to Congress), former Assistant Secretary of the Army Mary Matiella, small business owner Charlie Verdin,  and former state representative Bruce Wheeler (who's tossed his hat into the CD2 ring only to pull it back out before).

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Poised to jump into the race is Ann Kirkpatrick, the former CD 1 congresswoman who lost the U.S. Senate race to John McCain last year. Former U.S. Rep. Ron Barber has been working to build support for Kirkpatrick, who recently moved to Tucson to lay the foundation for a run here.

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Jun 13, 2017, 3:43 pm
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The best thing I can think to say regarding the ever more crowded field of aspirants for the opportunity to challenge Col. (Ret) McSally in CD 2 is that the last vast Democratic primary in what was then CD 8 led to the nomination of Gabby Giffords and the return to comparative anonymity of the also rans, including one now re-emerging.  If the result this time is a winner in November 2018 all will be well.  But whether a newcomer or a veteran, it’s going to take a real campaigner and some who’ve signed up have never shown they can run a real race.  And neither McSally nor her handlers are going to roll over and go away quietly.

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Paul Ingram/TucsonSentinel.com

Matt Heinz concedes to Martha McSally in the race for Arizona's CD 2 in November 2016.