Political Theater: Giffords and Bee Play the National Issues on the Local Political Stage

When Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords steamrolled to victory over Republican Randy Graf in the Congressional District 8 race two years ago, the contest was one of the most closely watched in the nation.

But this year, as Giffords faces a challenge from state Sen. Tim Bee, all the political air seems to be taken up by a presidential race that has lately been caught up in controversies over lipstick and earmarks.

It’s not that Bee isn’t a credible opponent. As president of the state Senate, he’s a serious threat to Giffords’ political survival. But Bee’s great political strengths–his ability to deal with fellow pols 1-on-1 and maneuver behind closed doors–don’t always translate well on the campaign trail.

With early voting starting in just a few weeks, the GOP team is introducing us to a new Tim Bee who is remarkably similar to the presidential ticket of John McCain and Sarah Palin–a reformer with results, a maverick who has been willing to stand up to his own party. It’s not a bad narrative to roll out, especially since it’s Continue reading

Democratic Poll: Giffords 59%, Bee 35%

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords has a 24-percentage-point lead over Republican challenger Tim Bee in the Congressional District 8 race, according to a new poll that we’ve been sent by a Washington Democratic operative (who, by the way, evidently likes Tedski more than us).

Giffords had the support of 59 percent of the 502 likely voters in Congressional District 8 who were surveyed, while Bee had the support of 35 percent. The poll, taken in June by D.C.-based Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, also shows that 57 percent of voters had a favorable opinion of Giffords, while 26 percent had an unfavorable opinion. More than 9 out of 10 voters–92 percent–recognized Giffords’ name.

Poll numbers released by the Bee campaign earlier today showed a much tighter race, with Giffords leading by just 7 percentage points.

Bee Campaign Poll: “Within Striking Distance” of Giffords

A poll done by state Sen. Tim Bee’s congressional campaign shows the Republican challenger just seven percentage points behind Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in the race for Congressional District 8.

Margaret Kenski, the longtime local pollster who used to survey the district for former congressman Jim Kolbe (and who did the Tucson Weekly’s polls in CD8 in 2006), says the Bee campaign’s mid-May survey puts Bee “within striking distance” of Giffords.

Kenski says Giffords had the support of 47 percent of the 500 likely voters polled, while Bee had the support of 40 percent.

“As an incumbent, you’re not comfortable until you’re quite a bit past 50 percent,” Kenski says. “It’s competitive. It’s very competitive.”

Kenski’s 2006 polls never showed GOP nominee Randy Graf within single digits of Giffords.

Tom Dunn, spokesman for the Bee campaign, also announced that Bee had raised more than a half-million dollars at today’s fundraiser with President George W. Bush.

Giffords campaign manager Zach Wineburg declined to release any of the Democrat’s internal polling, but said that “poll numbers will go up and down” between now and Election Day.

“The race will be decided on the issue and Congresswoman Giffords has a track record of hard work and fighting for Southern Arizona and the issues that voters care about,” Wineburg said.

Wineburg added that the Giffords camp would be bringing Gov. Janet Napolitano to town on Monday, July 21, for a fundraiser at the Viscount Suites at 5 p.m. In contrast to the Bush event for the Bee campaign, tickets to the Napolitano fundraiser will be only $25.

“While Tim is bringing in an unpopular president, we’re bringing in a popular governor,” Wineburg said.