Please don’t be alarmed by his background. I report the facts, and for most of his political life, O’Halleran was a Republican. Focus on the fact that he is an independent thinker and open to change, unlike many on the other side of the aisle. In fact, his political evolution matches my own closely.
- He has a police officer in Chicago for most of his life. He was one of the youngest in the force to become a homicide investigator in their history. It takes an open mind to hold that position, and it shows in his independent streak as a legislator.
- He also opened a small business while in Chicago and served on the Board of Trade. He held these positions in the 1970s before retiring and moving out to the Sedona area.
- He became politically active in the Republican Party upon retirement, and served in the Arizona Legislature as a Republican. His conversion to the Democratic Party came in 2015, when he realized that on many issues the Democratic Party was now a better fit than his old party. It is this bipartisan maverick streak that Arizonans like and may yet save him this year.
As to be expected, Rep. Tom O’Halleran isn’t a member of the Squad. He is a member of the Blue Dog Caucus, and is one of our most moderate to conservative members of the caucus. His DW Nominate score is -0.194, which indicates a moderate voting record. He is right in the center, being more liberal than 51% of the whole House, but more conservative than 94% of the Democratic caucus. He still votes with the Biden agenda nearly 100% of the time!
Tribal Affairs: As might be expected of him, his constituent services are amongst the best in Native American tribal outreach and dealing with the unique concerns that come with his representation. He was on the front lines in securing vaccines for the Navajo and other reservations when COVID first hit. Indian health care tends to be neglected, but O’Halleran with Biden made sure they were first in line.
Protection of Social Security and Medicare: It is this issue that may win him another term this year. He is a staunch advocate of keeping social security and Medicare protected from voucher schemes or privatization. He has strongly come out against the Scott Plan which kills both after 5 years. With a district full of retirees, this will be the focus of many ads from the O’Halleran campaign.
Clean Energy and the Environment: It was this issue that was influential in his party switch in 2015. He opposes uranium mining near the Grand Canyon, which will damage one of the most beautiful parts of the state. He is amongst the best in the Blue Dog Caucus for supporting incentives for renewable energy tax credits and water saving initiatives.
Recent Elections —
2020 President: TFG (R-inc) 53.2%, Joe Biden (D) 45.3%
2020 House: Tom O’Halleran (D-inc) 51.6%, Tiffany Shedd (R) 48.4%
2022 Race Rating: Leans Republican (flip)
2022 PVI: R+6
What is usually labeled as the 1st district in Arizona has been a swing seat for a very long time. The seat used to hold what were called Pinto Democrats, which were a group of ranchers and miners that voted reflexively Democratic in spite of being very conservative in outlook. The Pinto Democrats used to control the party back when it was more common to be a Republican in the state.
The modern version of this district came about after the 2000 Census, when it became a Republican leaning swing seat held by Rep. Rick Renzi. Corruption issues dogged Renzi throughout his tenure, and he retired in 2008 rather than face Ann Kirkpatrick. Kirkpatrick held this district for one term (2008-2010) before losing to the execrable Paul Gosar in the 2010 red wave.
Arizona added a district after the 2010 Census, and Gosar hopped to the new district which was in the insurrectionist northwestern corner of the state. This allowed Kirkpatrick to claim the 1st district once more. Even as Romney was narrowly carrying the district, Kirkpatrick won it again. She carried it until she ran for Senate in 2016, and Tom O’Halleran took over. He has had tough races as both Trump in 2016 and Biden in 2020 narrowly carried the district. Now, with mapmakers giving him an even bigger challenge, it will be a difficult seat to hold even in a normal environment.
Political Tour of the District
The reason I am uncharacteristically pessimistic about the chances of O’Halleran is what was added to the district after 2020 redistricting. I’ve been in many of the areas found in the district, and Prescott is one of the most inflexible Republican areas in the entire state of Arizona. It will take supercharged Native tribal vote AND unprecedented college vote out of Flagstaff to even have a chance.
Here’s where this race will be won in the 2nd district.
- Tribal Lands: This district contains the largest collection of Native tribal lands found anywhere in the nation, and it is critical that every vote possible on the reservations is found and turns out. The Navajo, Apache, Hopi, and many more had unprecedented turnout in 2020, but that won’t be enough to hold this district come 2022.
- Flagstaff and Sedona: These small cities are the largest in northern Arizona, and it is critical that every outdoorsman, woo woo crystal healer, student, and professor at NAU is found and turns out for O’Halleran. This part of the country is beautiful and also votes blue, but it has to come out in ways that it hasn’t before if O’Halleran is to win.
Here’s where we need to keep the margins down, or we lose.
- Prescott: Republicans have the largest city in the district in Prescott. I’m not lying when I say that this area is inflexibly Republican in nature. A combination of cranks and retirees from California live in this valley, and O’Halleran is completely new to them. He better hope a miracle happens and that he wins a few of them over this year.
- Pinto Democrat country: Places like Show Low and Payson used to the the backbone of the Pinto Democratic coalition once upon a time, the areas surrounding these small cities are now heavily favoring the GOP. O’Halleran will have to scrounge for votes in these areas to offset the lean of the district elsewhere.
- Pinal County: Pinal County is another part of this diverse district (larger than most states!) that tends to vote Republican. O’Halleran needs gangbusters turnout from Maricopa, while cutting down the margins in places like Coolidge, Florence, and Gold Canyon.
Activism — Help How You Can!
In another sign that O’Halleran hasn’t given up on the district, he raised a respectable $577k in Quarter 1. That isn’t as much as many others of our vulnerable majority, but it should be enough as a start. His numerous nutbar GOP foes didn’t do as well, except for one of them — Eli Crane. Crane outraised O’Halleran by raising $650k for the quarter.
O’Halleran also has $1.7 MILLION cash on hand, which is a very healthy place to be financially for a candidate. None of his GOP lunatic opponents have close to a million dollars on hand, although to be fair they have a messy primary to sort out before facing the incumbent. Given the lean of the district, Rep. O’Halleran will need every cent we can give him.
DONATE TO REP. TOM O’HALLERAN HERE
There are a couple of volunteer opportunities to help him. You can join up with his campaign by going to https://www.tomohalleran.com/. You could help DailyKos member EricAZ is promoting Arizona Deserves Better in order to pass this critical ballot initiative. You could join or donate to One Arizona, which focuses on Native American and Hispanic turnout. Remember that you also help Katie Hobbs run for governor and help save Sen. Mark Kelly by helping out here!
Finally, you could boost his social media game by following Tom O’Halleran on Twitter. He has around 11k followers which is a healthy amount, but he could always use more of them.
If you aren’t on Twitter, you can follow him on Facebook at ohalleranforaz or on Instagram at ohalleranforaz. Go ahead and check out his social media profile to learn even more about him!
Thank you for reading the latest article written by me! I realize that Rep. Tom O’Halleran is a tough sell here, both due to the moderate nature of the incumbent and the nearly unwinnable nature of the district. However, abandoning the Native tribes to unfit representation is NOT good ally ship on our part. Instead of condemning the man for his views, let us support him for trying in a tough seat.
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