Gov. Janet Napolitano’s new federal political action committee has raised thousands of dollars, a possible first step toward what she will do after she leaves the governor’s office in about three years.
The Competitive Edge PAC has raised about $50,000, including $15,000 from other PACs. So far it has given to gubernatorial candidates from Missouri and Kentucky, both Democrats like Napolitano.
Leezie Kim, treasurer of the new PAC, said she and Sal Rivera formed the organization for Napolitano to help her continue to spread the message of the need for innovation in schools across the nation. That message was Napolitano’s prime focus during her year as the head of the National Governors Association.
But Kim acknowledged that the PAC could also help spread not just money but also goodwill across the country, something that, in turn, could help Napolitano if she pursues an anticipated bid in 2010 for the U.S. Senate seat now held by John McCain.
“I’m sure that it’s going to help her,’’ Kim said. “But I don’t know how much.’’
Tucsonan William Roe, who with wife Alice gave $10,000, said he contributed to help Napolitano have some input into races elsewhere around the country.
“It allows the governor to participate a bit with federal campaigns in other states,’’ he said. “We both felt it would be good to support her.’’
Roe said he and his wife “don’t always see eye-to-eye’’ with the governor.
“But it seemed like a good way to participate in what she was going to be doing,’’ he said.
Roe said no one ever mentioned a 2010 Senate bid when he wrote out the check.
“Obviously she’s term-limited and will be thinking about her future,’’ he said.
So far, Kim said, the only donations have gone to Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon, who hopes to unseat incumbent Republican Matt Blunt, and Steve Beshear, the lieutenant governor of Kentucky, seeking to do the same thing to GOP incumbent Ernie Fletcher.
Kim, a Phoenix attorney who was the treasurer of Napolitano’s 2006 reelection committee, said there is no way to tell whether money spent by Napolitano’s PAC now will pay political dividends down the road.
“I think it never hurts,’’ she said.
“Politics is funny,’’ Kim continued. “That is still three years from now. I don’t know how long people’s memories are, to be honest.’’
Napolitano, who is on vacation in Italy, could not be reached for comment.
The collections continue: Kim said Mary Ellen Simonson, an attorney at Lewis & Roca and a member of Napolitano’s second inaugural committee, is having a fundraiser at her home on Sept. 19.
The other $10,000 contribution came from Leonard Mardian, a Las Vegas developer who also plans a 25,000 home development near Kingman, and his wife Susan.
The Mardians are not partisan: A check of federal election records shows that in the last election cycle they gave $10,000 to both the Arizona Democrat and Republican parties. They also have given to both the Clinton and McCain 2008 presidential bids.
PACS each giving $5,000 to the governor’s committee include Citigroup, Union Pacific and the International Association of Firefighters.
If McCain is elected president next year, Napolitano gets to appoint a replacement to serve until the 2010 election. State law requires she appoint a Republican, but who that is -- and whether she chooses someone who is not interested in keeping the seat -- is up to her.
McCain has dodged questions about whether he will run again in 2010, when he will be 74, if his presidential bid fails. But a poll last month showed that Napolitano would defeat him in a head-to-head contest.