Giblin: Endorsements can be risky for everyone - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Giblin: Endorsements can be risky for everyone

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Posted: Saturday, July 26, 2008 6:08 pm | Updated: 9:24 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Every candidate collects endorsements during their campaigns.

However, Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick, who is running in Arizona's 1st Congressional District, has bagged a few notable names. Gov. Janet Napolitano and U.S. Reps. Harry Mitchell and Gabrielle Giffords have all endorsed Kirkpatrick, according to her Web site.

The trio's endorsements are somewhat unusual because conventional wisdom calls for prominent officeholders to withhold their endorsements during contested primary campaigns for fear of aligning themselves with potential losers and simultaneously offending potential winners.

Either way, it's a risky business.

"In terms of benefits, certainly aligning yourself with the right individual can be a very positive reflection on your own position," said Jeremy Helfgot, president of J.M. Helfgot Communications, a Phoenix public relations firm.

"The downside, of course, is that every primary has to result in one candidate being chosen, and you can come down on the wrong side and cause yourself political headaches in the future," he said. "It can be bad. I hate to be glib, but it's politics."

Helfgot noted that in news accounts at the national level, some leading Democrats who endorsed Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton for president are getting the brushoff from Sen. Barack Obama's aides.

"The long and the short of it is that it can work to your advantage or it can work to your disfavor - and it's not a decision to be taken lightly," Helfgot said.

Kirkpatrick is a former state representative. She faces Democratic opponents Mary Kim Titla, a former TV reporter, who has earned endorsements from numerous state and city officials, and Howard Shanker, an environmental lawyer, who has picked up an endorsement from U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva, among others.

The 1st District takes in vast portions of northern, central and eastern Arizona, including eastern Pinal County.


Camilla Strongin, a partner in the Phoenix consulting firm The Symington Group, was named communications director for the Arizona Republican Party on Wednesday.

She is expected to handle communications and media relations duties through the remainder of the 2008 election cycle. She'll serve as a full-time consultant for the party.

"Her knowledge of political campaigns, previous work for the Arizona Republican Party and a long history of working with the Arizona media will be very beneficial," state party chairman Randy Pullen said in a news release.

In fact, Strongin's tenure with the party will be a return engagement. She served as the party spokeswoman during the 2004 presidential race.

There's been plenty of churn in the PR post since Pullen was selected chairman. Strongin is the fourth person to hold the title on either a full-time, interim or consultant basis.

"The nature of working in a state party organization is there is a lot of transition, because people get hired to do other things and move on to other political positions or other similar type work," she said. "I don't think traditionally it's the kind of position that someone makes a long-term career out of."


About 60 Republican volunteers from Arizona were expected to join more than 100 volunteers from New Mexico to campaign for presidential candidate John McCain in the Land of Enchantment on Saturday.

The Arizona contingent was scheduled to travel by charter bus Friday, then campaign door-to-door and staff phone banks for 12 hours straight Saturday in Albuquerque and Las Cruces, the two largest cities in the 47th state.

"There are a lot of volunteers in Arizona who understand that the race could come down to New Mexico this year," said New Mexico Republican Party spokesman Scott Darnell. "Obviously, we're not the only battleground state, but really could come down to New Mexico."

Every vote is critical in New Mexico.

In 2004, New Mexicans sided with Republican George W. Bush against Democrat John Kerry by just 5,988 votes of more than 756,000 cast.

Four years earlier, New Mexicans favored Democrat Al Gore against Bush by only 366 votes.

The state carries five Electoral College votes, which could tilt the entire election in a close national contest, Darnell said. Arizonans appreciate the potential significance of the vote next door, he said.

"We're going to welcome them anytime and as often as they'd like to be here to help us spread the word. And certainly they have a very long track record of knowing and appreciating Senator McCain," Darnell said.

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