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Richard Carmona
Richard Carmona
Public Policy Polling (PDF). 11/17-20. Arizona voters. MoE ±4.4% (no trendlines):
Richard Carmona (D): 36
Jeff Flake (R): 40
Undecided: 24

Richard Carmona (D): 33
Wil Cardon (R): 35
Undecided: 32

Don Bivens (D): 32
Jeff Flake (R): 42
Undecided: 36

Don Bivens (D): 27
Wil Cardon (R): 35
Undecided: 37

Arizona's open seat Senate race, to fill the vacancy left by three-term Republican Jon Kyl's retirement, may be ready to turn from sleepy to sleeper, thanks to the recruitment of an intriguing candidate on the Democrats' side. The candidacy of fairly-prominent Republican Rep. Jeff Flake and the unlikelihood of a run by Democratic Rep. Gabby Giffords for health reasons (she would have led Flake by 7, according to PPP's May poll) seemed to move this one into the red column almost as soon as it began, but the entry of former Surgeon General Richard Carmona seems to have revived Democratic fortunes a bit. Whether this gets closer, or turns into a fools-gold race for the Democrats (the flipside of, say, New Jersey, where close early polling for Republicans in Senate races always eventually fizzles), remains to be seen, but at the very least it's one more spot where the GOP will have to spend money playing defense.

The best indication that Carmona has some upside here is that he's much less well-known than Flake (17/11 favorables, compared with 33/27 for Flake) and yet stays competitive. Carmona's advantage here seems to be crossover support; he has 13/12 faves among Republicans, and gets 10 percent of GOPers to vote for him. Of course, the obstacle course Carmona faces is daunting: never having run for office before, he has to figure out how to hone a message and run a campaign operation; he has to assuage enough people about his Democratic bona fides (he was Surgeon General in the Bush administration) to survive a primary against former state party chair Don Bivens; and if he emerges from the primary, he has to scrape together the money to compete against well-funded likely GOP nominee Flake.

Carmona's (or Bivens') job in the general would be easier if the primary instead went to tea-flavored rich guy Wil Cardon, who seems to be trying to carve out space to the right of Flake in the primary, despite Flake being one of the most conservative House members according to most metrics. (That's mostly on fiscal issues, though; Cardon's wedge is immigration and social issues, where Flake tends to be more laissez-faire.) PPP's poll of the primary (53-7 for Flake) suggests that's not likely to happen, though.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Mon Nov 28, 2011 at 11:51 AM PST.

Also republished by Baja Arizona Kossacks.

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Comment Preferences

  •  File this under "holy bleepity-bleeping crap" (10+ / 0-)

    When was the last time a Senate race in Arizona was this close starting out?

    And something else to note--this will be the first race in which Flake has had to actually break a sweat.  He's never really had to campaign for his House seat, which is nasty, nasty red (R+15!).

    Occupy Wall Street in 2011--re-occupy the House in 2012.

    by Christian Dem in NC on Mon Nov 28, 2011 at 11:59:10 AM PST

  •  A presidential year, with no McCain running, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wdrath, Larsstephens, MichaelNY

    should also help. Perhaps as long a shot as Nebraska, but still...

  •  "Arizona may be the 3rd best chance of picking up (18+ / 0-)

    a GOP held (Senate) seat next year, behind only Massachusetts and Nevada." - Tom Jensen, PPP

    And we need to pick up a couple of those Red seats to make sure Mitch stays Minority Leader.

    David Koch, a teabagger and a teacher sit down at a table. There is a plate with a dozen cookies. Koch quickly stuffs 11 cookies into his pockets, leans toward the bagger and whispers "watch out, the union thug will try to steal your cookie".

    by Dave in AZ on Mon Nov 28, 2011 at 12:26:35 PM PST

      •  I think Democrats (7+ / 0-)

        also need to worry about saving Florida, Wisconsin and Ohio. New Mexico might be competitive if Heinrich loses and Wilson staves off John Sanchez.

        I feel like, absent a Don Stenberg upset, Nebraska is out of reach.

        I'm actually feeling confident about North Dakota because not only is Heidi Haitkamp still very well-liked by many North Dakota voters, but Rick Berg has already alienated and driven away many of the states moderates and populists; I do believe that his terrible favorables in the last few polls are accurate. That gives Democrats a great match up, and what's more, unlike in say, Louisiana or Texas, the flood of oil industry and oil money, bringing in new workers, (so many that several cities and counties are running out of housing and can't build it fast enough and RV spots alone are selling for thousands of dollars), this doesn't seem to be making the state more Republican, as it's still swingish on a local level. In most places at least. Let's hope this holds up.

        I nearly forgot Montana and Missouri though. Those are both the real marquee races of the cycle. I think McCaskill has to be pretty relieved by Jim Talent passing up the race and Todd Akin's bland inability to make a strong impact so far (he hasn't even put away the primary yet despite loads of establishment backing). Montana is an interesting case. Some of the fast growing areas are getting more Democratic due to a lot of urbanized west coast folks resettling there, (at least this is my impression of places like Missoula), but many rural places are swinging further away from the party, which has, since 2006, made several errors, that have hurt the party's local infrastructure and candidate base, errors that will not be easily undone. Luckily Tester has Rehberg as an opponent and not Marc Racicot.

        "If people doled out nutkickings where they are deserved, the world would be a better place." -Marcel Inhoff

        by ArkDem14 on Mon Nov 28, 2011 at 12:52:21 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Florida? (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Dave in AZ, James Allen, MichaelNY

          Bill Nelson is quite popular there. Wisconsin and Ohio I'm not as worried about; to me, they're safer seats than Missouri.

          •  With Connie Mack the race will (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ArkDem14, bfen, MichaelNY

            Be a close one to the end. I also think Wisconsin is going to be really tough. No offense to the Baldwin lovers on the site but she is much further to the left than the state as a whole. I also think her sexual orientation is going to be a serious issue for middle class and rural voters. If thompson is the nominee its a lean R

            WV-1, Male, 22, SSP: buff2011 Elect Ed Case Sen. and Reelect Sen. Ben Nelson

            by buff2011 on Mon Nov 28, 2011 at 01:02:58 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  My thoughts exactly (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              bfen, MichaelNY

              Baldwin is all in all the worst possible fit for the state's voters. I love Madison, my dad lives there now and my little brother is going to be born there, but politically, Madison liberals don't tend to be very popular with the rest of the state. I think that Baldwin can get rural Democrats to come behind her, and will be able to depend on the Obama turnout machine and campaign to pull her over the finish line (and I also don't expect Thompson to make it past the priamry), but she's still a far weaker candidate than Ron Kind, statewide at least. And I'm wary. She's seen a real lack of competitive campaigns.

              And buff is right this time. I don't trust the wild bounce of that Quinnpiac poll, but I do think Mack gives Nelson a real race. One that Nelson wins, but has to fight for and which is in the 6-8 point range, unless the cycle sours for Democrats.

              In Ohio, I'm more on Newdem's side. Sherrod Brown is a savvy, hard-hitting campaigner and he's extremely popular among blue dollar Democrats in the north and northeast part of the state. With Obama helping drive black turnout in Cinncinati and Columbus, and an opponent like Mandel, who, despite the love showered on him by Republicans, doesn't seem ready for prime time, I think Brown will be okay with a steady lead throughout the campaign and a solid 55-45 victory (or thereabouts), in the end.

              "If people doled out nutkickings where they are deserved, the world would be a better place." -Marcel Inhoff

              by ArkDem14 on Mon Nov 28, 2011 at 01:23:16 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Feingold and Doyle (0+ / 0-)

                Are both Madison liberals, and they have eight statewide elections between them.

                •  Doyle because of 2006 (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  MichaelNY

                  Feingold because of Neumann and because in 2004, riding a wave of positive press over the awful Feingold-McCain campaign finance reform, no real Republican stepped up to the plate.

                  Note that none of those 8 statewide elections between them was by more than 56%, even when running in highly favorable environments or against weak opponents. Also, Feingold isn't technically from Madison, nor from Dane County.

                  I meant that if she wins--and she has more problems than just being from Madison, (she's extremely liberal by any metric, and she's also gay, which hey, I am too, but I still see it as a cultural issue which will lose her votes in many rural areas), and she hasn't run a competitive campaign in a decade--she won't ever be the kind of landslide "We don't have to spend a dime" candidate that Herb Kohl was. I wanted another Dem. One that would be fairly reliable, but a better political and cultural fit and one that would win reelections easily. Someone like Ron Kind.

                  "If people doled out nutkickings where they are deserved, the world would be a better place." -Marcel Inhoff

                  by ArkDem14 on Mon Nov 28, 2011 at 03:29:36 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Never realized you were gay (0+ / 0-)

                    we really do own DKE...

                    21, male, RI-01 (voting) IL-01 (college), hopeless Swingnut

                    by sapelcovits on Tue Nov 29, 2011 at 07:04:49 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  Feingold is from Dane County (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    MichaelNY

                    His entire political career has been based in Middleton. At the time of his first election to the Senate he represented Madison in the state Senate.

                  •  Also, Ron Kind would move the seat to the right (0+ / 0-)

                    And Kohl was already a little weak from the progressive perspective.

                    •  I'd be hard-pressed to find a (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      MichaelNY

                      vote, in 24 years in the Senate, that Herb Kohl has done more than mildly annoy me, and even that was rare.

                      "If people doled out nutkickings where they are deserved, the world would be a better place." -Marcel Inhoff

                      by ArkDem14 on Tue Nov 29, 2011 at 02:27:33 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  Wisconsin is not the kind of state (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      MichaelNY

                      to get perfect progressives. And if your idea of a perfect progressive is an incompetent campaigner, a blithering and bombastic crusader who ends up passing legislation that makes the issue of campaign finance even less regulated and more opaque and then hails it as a great accomplishment, and then tries to block the most important bit of financial regulation in decades because it didn't include everything he wanted, then I don't want your kind of perfect progressive. Kind has rarely been troublesome, and I think he would be a bit more liberal as a statewide figure.

                      "If people doled out nutkickings where they are deserved, the world would be a better place." -Marcel Inhoff

                      by ArkDem14 on Tue Nov 29, 2011 at 02:30:28 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Wow, very harsh! (0+ / 0-)

                        I would want Feingold as a Supreme Court Justice. But your criticism is fair. Except for "blithering"; I find that over the top.

                        Formerly Pan on Swing State Project

                        by MichaelNY on Tue Nov 29, 2011 at 04:27:30 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Blithering is unfair (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          MichaelNY

                          bombastic alone was enough.

                          "If people doled out nutkickings where they are deserved, the world would be a better place." -Marcel Inhoff

                          by ArkDem14 on Tue Nov 29, 2011 at 06:02:31 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  My problem with Feingold (0+ / 0-)

                            Is that his "independent maverick who rises above partisan politics and calls it like he sees it" schtick is just that: schtick. It's a cleverly honed, finely crafted political persona. I give him enormous amounts of credit for that achievement as a politician. It's why he was able to stay in office so long in a state that was to his right.

                            But just because your schtick is that you're "not a typical politician" doesn't mean you're not a typical politician. I completely agree with you about Dodd Frank. That was when the scales fell from my eyes for me. Voting against the bill because you don't think it goes far enough is one thing, but supporting the filibuster actually made it worse, because they had to water it down to get Scott Brown's vote.

                            If he was concerned with legislative substance over image, he would have voted for cloture and against the bill. But what probably happened was he saw that he was running in a swing state where Obama wasn't very popular, and he'd already voted for two of his big ticket agenda items. He needed to publicly break with the President, just to say that he did it, not because it was the right thing to do.

                            Which, again, makes sense, and is a clever political move. But don't try to tell me that you put prinicple over politics when you pull a stunt like that.

                            Also, I live in the uberliberal parts of Madison, so I'm around a lot of lefties; the sort that view Obama as a sellout and Feingold as the one true keeper of the progressive flame. And people do not want to hear any criticism of their hero. Because his schtick is all about not being a typical politician, he gets cut a lot more slack than he deserves or than other politicians get. If people disagree with him on an issue, they'll sooner change their own view than say he was wrong, or chalk it up to "I disagree but I respect his integrity". Because he bases so much of his persona and his actions on his personal integrity, criticism of any of his actions becomes criticism of the whole edifice of Feingoldism.

                            My bottom line is that I don't have a lot of patience for people who take pride in refusing to sully themselves with anything so base as politics. Everything that important that happens happens in the muck, so roll up your sleeves and grab your shovel.

                            And don't even get me started on the whole "Russ for Governor" movement.

                          •  Well, I'm really glad to (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Gpack3

                            meet a liberal from Wisconsin that doesn't worship the ground that Russ Feingold walks on.

                            What do you think about the reports that David Obey is interested in challeging Walker, only to fill out those remaining two years? I think Obey's popularity in the swingish, rural north of the state and his position as moderate liberal and elder statesman make him an excellent opponent and contrast to Walker.

                            "If people doled out nutkickings where they are deserved, the world would be a better place." -Marcel Inhoff

                            by ArkDem14 on Wed Nov 30, 2011 at 01:14:04 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Obey voted for the Stupak amendment (0+ / 0-)

                            That's disqualifying. Whoever wins this recall will be the governor who implements health care reform in Wisconsin. We can't have that governor be someone who's soft on reproductive rights.

                      •  Feingold is not my idea of a perfect progressive (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        ArkDem14

                        I basically agree with your criticism; Tammy's pretty close though.

            •  I really don't think her sexual orientation (0+ / 0-)

              will be a factor for voters as if sexual orientation were something a voter would consider in their decision, then her uber liberal positions probably would've already have turned them off.

          •  Ohio is, I believe (0+ / 0-)

            Wisconsin? I'm quite unsure of that. I rate it a tossup, as things stand.

            Formerly Pan on Swing State Project

            by MichaelNY on Tue Nov 29, 2011 at 12:11:15 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  asdf (0+ / 0-)

          Couldn't Tester be primaried? Talk about a corporatist.

          $ to DFA, none to DSCC/DCCC/DNC

          by grrr on Mon Nov 28, 2011 at 05:36:42 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  No (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            James Allen, KingofSpades, bythesea, jncca

            You think another Democrat who were to beat him would then be able to turn around and win? Besides, I do believe he remains pretty popular in MT.

            We try to be realistic on Daily Kos Elections. Democrats can win elections statewide in MT, but they have to be either somewhat conservative or/and populist. I think Schweitzer is great because, to the best of my knowledge, he really is a relatively liberal populist, not a conservative Democrat. If he were to choose to run for President in 2016, I would pay close attention to what he has to say.

            Formerly Pan on Swing State Project

            by MichaelNY on Tue Nov 29, 2011 at 12:16:09 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Yes, ND has been another surprise so far. Btw, it (4+ / 0-)

    would be interesting to see GOP panic if ND and Montana joined Arizona going blue in 2012. Only 6 evs but the Far weast would be not only 90% or more Democratic, but (together with the East Coast at least Maine to Virginia-and possibly NC) leaving the GOP pretty much in the deep south, Mormon land, and Appalachia, plus a "mountain redoubt" or two.

  •  ND and MONTare blue (0+ / 0-)

    North Dakota was considered a sure loss and Montana is 50/50 hold at best for Tester.

  •  I still wouldn't be suprised (5+ / 0-)

    if Jeff Flake doesn't get a bit more serious of a primary challenge.  He really is more of a maverick on some social and foreign policy issues than John McCain ever was -- and the fact that he's not in the "throw 'em all out tomorrow" immigration camp alone should make him potentially vulnerable.

  •  I hope he's a great candidate too. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Setsuna Mudo, MichaelNY

    Also, what of Bivens?

    'It's a troublesome world. All the people who're in it are troubled with troubles almost every minute. You ought to be thankful, a whole heaping lot, for the places and people you're lucky you're not.' - Dr. Seuss

    by KingofSpades on Mon Nov 28, 2011 at 01:35:35 PM PST

    •  Jim Pederson (8+ / 0-)

      6 years later.

      "There are a lot of reasons not to elect me." Mitt Romney (R-All Over The Map)

      by conspiracy on Mon Nov 28, 2011 at 01:52:08 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, Bivens would loose by at least 10 pts like (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        KingofSpades, MichaelNY

        Pederson. While they made good contributions to the AZ Democratic Party as chairmen, a former state party chair is seen by most Independents as too partisan.

        David Koch, a teabagger and a teacher sit down at a table. There is a plate with a dozen cookies. Koch quickly stuffs 11 cookies into his pockets, leans toward the bagger and whispers "watch out, the union thug will try to steal your cookie".

        by Dave in AZ on Mon Nov 28, 2011 at 03:27:40 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Bivens (5+ / 0-)

      Bivens is your basic plan B candidate. He's credible, but has no electoral track record and doesn't bring anything special to the table. Carmona seems like a guy who might catch fire and give them a chance to beat a strong opponent.

      SSP poster. 42, CA-5, -0.25/-3.90

      by sacman701 on Mon Nov 28, 2011 at 03:08:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  A Guy's Candidate (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MichaelNY, Desert Rose

      I see one of Carmona's big advantages over Flake is that he has a "macho" background which might make it easier for him to get a certain segment of the male vote. Before he went to med school, he was an Army Special Forces medic during the Vietnam war, and here in Pima County, he was a member of the SWAT team. Additionally, he can run as other than a career politician because except for his stint as Surgeon General, he has stayed out of the political limelight.
      While he may not be the perfect Democrat ideologically speaking, he has a decent chance to win Arizona over Flake or any other R. It's been a long time since DeConcini.

  •  "why would i vote for a flake?" (4+ / 0-)

    Kick a "job creator" in the balls today!

    by memofromturner on Mon Nov 28, 2011 at 02:29:38 PM PST

  •  Why is Terry Goddard not being polled? (0+ / 0-)

    He is the candidate with the best shot in Arizona from the polling I've seen, and I havent heard him saying he won't get in the race... It's a real head scratcher.

    Swingnut since 2009, 20, Male, Democrat, CA-44 (home) CA-12 (college) Join r/elections on reddit!

    by Daman09 on Tue Nov 29, 2011 at 11:46:52 AM PST

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