Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick receiving treatment for alcohol dependence


Yvonne Wingett Sanchez and Ronald J. Hansen


Arizona Republic
Published 3:17 PM EST Jan 15, 2020
Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick
Won election in 2018.
Served three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Michael Chow/The Republic

Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz., who has been absent from the Congress since last week, is in treatment for alcohol dependence, she announced Wednesday in a written statement.

Kirkpatrick, 69, represents Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District based in Tucson, and her announcement comes after a fall last week. She must undergo physical therapy for the fall, she said, but was expected to recover.

“I do, however, have another challenge I must face, which was the underlying cause of my fall,” she said. “Beginning next week, I will receive treatment that I have struggled to ask for, to treat my alcohol dependence.”

“I am finally seeking this help after struggling to do so in the past, and I am ready to admit that I, like countless other Americans, suffer from this disease. Hard work and determination — which have brought me success in life — have not been enough to win this battle. Other than being a wife, mother, and grandmother, the most important job in the world to me is representing my fellow Arizonans. I know I must get better in order to do my best in each of these roles.”

Kirkpatrick missed the House vote on Thursday seeking to curb President Donald Trump’s military authority in dealing with Iran after what her office characterized as a temporary medical emergency.

Her offices in Arizona and Washington, D.C., will be fully operational during her absence, she said. All of her positions of recorded votes will be submitted to the Congressional Record and made available publicly. 

Kirkpatrick did not say how long she expects to be away from Capitol Hill. 

“I am grateful to the people of Arizona whom I am privileged to serve, my amazing staff who work tirelessly on your behalf, and my infinitely supportive and loving family,” she wrote. “… From the bottom of my heart, thank you for your support.”

Felecia Rotellini, Arizona Democratic Party chairwoman, issued her support, saying her heart goes out to Kirkpatrick. 

“We greatly admire the Congresswoman’s courage and her strength during this trying time,” Rotellini’s statement said. “Congresswoman Kirkpatrick has never shied away from a challenge, and I know she will meet this one head-on.

“Ann, we wish you the best and look forward to your swift return. God speed.”

An outpouring of support came Kirkpatrick’s way from family members of the late Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who defeated Kirkpatrick in Arizona’s 2016 Senate race.

Cindy McCain, McCain’s widow, and her daughter Meghan McCain, a political commentator and co-host of ABC’s “The View,” wished Kirkpatrick well.

So did Democratic Senate candidate Mark Kelly.

“Sending love, prayers and strength to Arizona @RepKirkpatrick and her entire family,” Meghan McCain tweeted.

Kirkpatrick is in her fourth term in Congress, but her first representing the Tucson-based 2nd district. Before that, she represented the 1st Congressional District that spans northeastern Arizona.

Kirkpatrick’s current district has been among the most competitive nationally because of its relatively even division over the years between Democrats and Republicans.

It has also had unusual churn.

Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., represented a similar district from 2007 until 2012. She resigned her seat after being shot in the head in 2011 at a constituent event near Tucson in which six people died and 13 others, including Giffords, were wounded.

Former Rep. Ron Barber, one of Giffords’ staffers who was also wounded, won the special election to replace Giffords in 2012 and, later that year, won a full term outright when he narrowly defeated Republican Martha McSally.

In 2014, McSally defeated Barber in a rematch that proved to be the closest House race in the country that year. She won another term in 2016, before running for the Senate in 2018.

By then, Kirkpatrick had moved to Tucson and defeated a crowded field for the Democratic nomination. She defeated Republican Lea Marquez Peterson to cap her return to Washington.

It was not immediately clear whether Kirkpatrick’s alcohol problem would affect her plans to run for re-election in November. Lobbyist Shay Stautz is viewed as the leading Republican challenger already in that race.

Have news to share about Arizona’s U.S. senators or national politics? Reach the reporter on Twitter and Facebook. Contact her at yvonne.wingett@arizonarepublic.com and 602-444-4712.

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This content was originally published here.

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