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In 1986, after serving in the Arizona Legislature and the state's Corporation Commission, Kimball ran as a Democrat against John McCain for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Barry Goldwater. His campaign was subject to negative press from The Arizona Republic and Phoenix Gazette. One Gazette columnist described him as displaying "terminal weirdness." McCain ultimately won the election by a margin of over twenty percent.
Twenty years later, Kimball commented on the campaign to a reporter from the Arizona Daily Star: "I was enormously depressed — not because I lost. It was because I spent all my time collecting money." He said that he spent the following months after the election traveling through Mexico, and then left politics to start Project Vote Smart.
- Nowicki, D. & Muller, B. (2007, March 1). The Senate calls. The Arizona Republic. Retrieved September 16, 2007.
- Election Results 1986
- Innes, Stephanie (November 9, 2006). "Candidates on losing end of election cope differently.". The Arizona Daily Star.