Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ) announced on Friday that she would not be seeking reelection in Arizona’s 2nd District in the 2022 midterms, marking the first retirement from the House in the upcoming election cycle. The decision raises questions about potential vulnerability of her seat.
“Serving Arizonans has been my absolute honor and joy, but after much consideration, I have decided not to seek reelection in 2022,” Kirkpatrick said in a statement. “I will continue the good fight through this Congress, and when the term is up, I will hand over the baton.”
The congresswoman told the Arizona Republic that she was “sort of term-limiting myself.”
Kirkpatrick’s district has been trending blue over the past several presidential and congressional elections. Democrat Ron Barber won the seat by a slim margin against Republican Martha McSally in 2012, then lost it to her by an even thinner margin in 2014.
Though McSally kept the seat in 2016, the district flipped blue that year for presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who beat Donald Trump by four points there, then went even harder for Democrats in 2020 when Joe Biden won by a dozen points.
Kirkpatrick ran for the seat in 2018 and won in a sweeping 9-point victory against Republican Lea Marquez Peterson, then successfully fended off GOP challenger Brandon Martin by 10 points in 2020.
However, it is unclear whether the blue trend will continue or what the district’s ideological makeup will be in 2022 after Arizona’s independent commission redraws the state’s political boundaries this year.
The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), the House GOP’s fundraising arm, has zeroed in on Kirkpatrick’s district, and NRCC spokesperson Torunn Sinclair claimed on Friday that the outgoing Democrat “saw the writing on the wall.”
“We look forward to turning this seat red again because Arizonans deserve a congresswoman who represents them, not Nancy Pelosi and Democrats’ socialist agenda,” Sinclair told the Arizona Republic.
The district includes parts of Tucson and Cochise County, situated on the U.S.-Mexico border. Kirkpatrick had an interesting mix of appeal in Arizona, previously representing a district in northeastern Arizona that included tribal lands.
In 2016 she lost a bid to unseat the late Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). While McCain won by 300,000-plus votes, it was considered one of his most difficult reelection bids.