CD6 Republican challenger Winn makes pitch to primary voters

Republican congressional candidate Kathleen Winn, who hopes to unseat U.S. Rep. Juan Ciscomani in the July 30 GOP primary, made her case to voters in a forum Wednesday night.

Winn, who is making her second run against Ciscomani in Southern Arizona’s CD6, said she was a conservative alternative to the Republican representative. In 2022, she got 19 percent of the vote in a five-way primary that saw Ciscomani prevail with 44 percent.

“His voting record has him be a bipartisan moderate, which he proudly has been touting,” said Winn, who has previously worked for the Arizona Attorney General’s Office and hosted a local radio show about politics. “He votes more with the Democrats than he does with the Republicans.” 

Ciscomani, who declined to participate in the Clean Elections/Arizona Media Association event, was recently named the most bipartisan member of Congress in Arizona. He ranked 45 among the 435 members that make up the U.S. House of Representatives.

Congressional District 6, which includes precincts in Pima, Cochise, Graham, Greenlee and Pinal counties, is a potential swing district where 36 percent of the voters are Republicans, 31 percent are Democrats and 33 percent are not aligned with either major party, according to the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office.

Winn took mostly conservative positions on a range of issues from immigration to the conflict in Ukraine as she responded to questions from Tucson Sentinel Government & Political Impact reporter Jim Nintzel.

She said she favored shutting down the government until the flow of asylum seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border slowed.

“We are incentivizing people to come from all over the world,” she said. “We are giving them benefits for breaking our laws, and we are using our resources and depleting our resources in our country to support illegal immigration.”

Winn said she did not support federal funding for the Pima County’s Casa Alitas program, which helps asylum seekers who have been released from Border Patrol custody and are ready to move on to their next destination. She expressed skepticism that the federal government had properly vetted which border crossers were genuine asylum seekers, suggesting that some were part of criminal groups, such as drug cartels.

Pressed on the topic by Nintzel, Winn said she would not support deporting people who were brought to America as children who are registered in the DACA program.

“The Dreamers that were here prior to this, that’s a different group of people, but to declare someone a Dreamer, just because they’ve crossed the border?” Winn said. “I think that you have to reset these policies.”

On Social Security, she didn’t have a concrete proposal but said that it was necessary to overhaul it. She claimed that the current funding formula is not sustainable and that there was widespread abuse by individuals, but she does not favor ending the federal entitlement program.  

Similarly, she did not favor ending Medicare, but voiced her concerns about insurance companies defrauding the government, and suggested to make the eligibility criteria more strict. 

“We need to have some kind of system to support people, especially as they age, but right now you have a lack of accountability,” Winn said. 

Winn said Donald Trump’s May 29 conviction of 34 felony counts in a New York courtroom was “a political persecution.”

“I think this is an attack, an electioneering, and it is one party attacking the lead person who’s actually winning in the polls,” she said. “The American people see that based on the amount of money President Trump has received, and based on the outpouring of support for him.”

Trump has endorsed Ciscomani in the race.

“Juan is working hard to Secure our Border, Defend our Wonderful Military and Veterans, Promote Election Integrity, and Expand American Jobs and the Economy,” the former president wrote on his Truth Social account. “Juan Ciscomani has my Complete and Total Endorsement!”

After the forum, Winn told the Sentinel that she attended Trump’s June 6 rally in Phoenix and the former president appeared unaware he had endorsed Ciscomani .

“Trump did not mention Juan today at the rally, Juan was not there, and Trump did not know he had endorsed him,” Winn said.

Asked during the livestreamed and broadcast event whether she thought President Joe Biden had won Arizona in 2020, she expressed concern about potential voter fraud in the Navajo nation, saying she had heard “people that voted twice in both New Mexico and Arizona, in the Navajo Nation.”

While allegations of voter fraud on the Navajo Nation were raised in the wake of the 2020 election, county officials told the Navajo County Board of Supervisors that there was no evidence of a significant number of illegal ballots being cast, according to the Payson Roundup.

On international issues, Winn was opposed to a recently passed $60 billion military aid Ukraine, stating the beleaguered country’s efforts to thwart the Russian invasion had become a proxy war and the Ukrainian forces were headed for defeat. She said a better approach would be negotiating a peace deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

But she supported the $15 billion portion of the military aid package for Israel as it continues its war on Hamas in Gaza, where an estimated 36,731 people have been killed since October, including more than 15,000 children. 

“We, as Americans, needed to stand with Israel. They’ve been a longtime ally,” Winn said.

The winner of the GOP primary will face Democrat Kirsten Engel in the Nov. 5 general election. Engel lost to Ciscomani by 2 percentage points in 2024

More information about the Clean Elections/Arizona Media Assocation debates is available online.