Major progressive group endorses Martha McSally challenger

Major progressive group endorses Martha McSally challenger
© Greg Nash

Democracy for America (DFA) is throwing its weight behind Mary Matiella, a Democrat running against Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), who is considered a top 2018 Democratic target.

In a release provided first to The Hill, DFA announced it's backing the former assistant secretary of the Army, who faces a crowded primary before she can take on McSally in her Tucson-based district.

DFA, which was founded in 2004 by former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (D), touted Matiella’s “populist progressive vision” for the country, with plans to take on income inequality and supporting ideas like Medicare for all, which was championed by Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersWorld leaders reach agreement on trade deal without United States: report Sanders on Brazile revelations: DNC needs ‘far more transparency’ Sen. Warren sold out the DNC MORE (I-Vt.) during his insurgent presidential campaign.

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“Not only will Mary Matiella be the first Latina to represent Arizona’s second district, she’s ready to fight to expand Social Security, push for Medicare for All, stop the attacks on immigrants and refugees, and build an economy that works for everyone and not just the elite few," DFA Chairman Jim Dean said in a release.

“Mary Matiella is the progressive choice in Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District race.”

Matiella is one of more than half a dozen Democrats who are either running or have expressed interest in a congressional campaign in Arizona’s 2nd District.

Physician Matt Heinz (D) is running again after an unsuccessful 2016 bid. McSally easily defeated him even while Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGOP rushes to cut ties to Moore Papadopoulos was in regular contact with Stephen Miller, helped edit Trump speech: report Bannon jokes Clinton got her ‘ass kicked’ in 2016 election MORE carried the district by nearly 5 points.

Former Democratic Rep. Ann KirkpatrickAnn KirkpatrickVulnerable House incumbents build up war chests Cook Political Report shifts 11 House races towards Democrats Major progressive group endorses Martha McSally challenger MORE could also make a comeback, forming an exploratory committee as she weighs running in a new district. Kirkpatrick didn't run for reelection to her swing seat in 2016, opting instead to run for Senate, where she fell short to longtime GOP Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainGOP rushes to cut ties to Moore GOP strategist: 'There needs to be a repudiation' of Roy Moore by Republicans World leaders reach agreement on trade deal without United States: report MORE.

McSally was first elected to Congress in 2014 when Republicans made major gains in the lower chamber. That year, she won a recount by only 167 votes, but in 2016, she won reelection by a double-digit margin.

Even with that easy victory for the Arizona Republican, McSally was named a top target by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), the House Democrats' campaign arm, particularly since she holds a Clinton-won district.

Democrats, who need to flip 24 seats to take back control of the House, will be pressed to win seats like McSally's in order to regain the majority.

Even though Democrats didn't win any special elections this year, they feel emboldened by the current political environment to make major gains in next year’s midterms.

DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Luján (N.M.) recently declared the House in play, specifically pointing to several GOP-leaning districts, including McSally's, where he says data shows that the party has an early advantage.

DFA has already made a number of 2018 endorsements, backing Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), who doesn’t face a competitive reelection race, and also four incumbent senators that include key races like those of Sens. Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinNo room for amnesty in our government spending bill Bipartisan lawmakers can rebuild trust by passing infusion therapy bill Dem super PAC rolls out seven-figure ad campaign defending Baldwin in Wisconsin MORE (D-Wis.) and Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownTrump tells Senate Dems that 'rich people get hurt' in GOP tax plan Senate panel approves North Korea banking sanctions Trump names Powell as chairman of Federal Reserve MORE (D-Ohio).