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Updated Mar 3, 2014 - 1:27 pm

All eyes on Sinema as Arizona’s 7th District calls

PHOENIX — Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema is undoubtedly tempted to jump
from her current swing district to the solidly Democratic 7th Congressional
District seat being vacated by the retirement of Rep. Ed Pastor, but her
campaign is not addressing widespread speculation she will enter the fray.

Sinema has been the subject of talk since late last week when Pastor announced
he was retiring after 23 years serving his south Phoenix district. Her campaign
and political consultants have declined to comment on whether she’ll jump
districts. Under federal rules, Sinema won’t have to move into the district to
run for Pastor’s seat.

But Arizona political consultants and even an announced candidate for Pastor’s
seat say she has got to be seriously looking at the district. That’s because her
current Tempe-based district, while leaning Democratic, could go the other way
in any election.

“There is no denial – and they could end it with one sentence – but they’re
not,” said Barrett Marson, a Democratic political consultant. “The reason
they’re not is because they’re looking at it.”

Sinema is stuck with a problem many in the U.S. House of Representatives face _
having to continually raise money to fend off challengers in the next election
cycle. Safe districts like Pastor’s can free them of that cycle of ongoing phone
calls and fundraisers and allow them to focus on policy.

Several prominent politicians are interested in Pastor’s seat, including Sen.
Steve Gallardo, Rep. Ruben Gallego and Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose

“I don’t blame Sinema for weighing all her options – I think if I was in her
shoes I would be doing the same thing,” Gallardo said Monday. “But there’s
been a lot of work, a lot of resources put into CD 9 to make it a Democratic
district, and if you leave you put it right back in play.”

Gallardo acknowledged that Sinema’s sizable war chest _ she has more than $1
million in her campaign account _ would make her a formidable opponent, and
she’s represented parts of the district before while in the Arizona Legislature.

But the 7th District will likely take more than money to win _ it will take
on-the-ground organizing and get-out-the-vote efforts to lure low-frequency
voters to the polls for the August primary.

Gallardo touts his 12 years representing the area, working on issues important
to the minority community and building up a reputation as someone who shows up,
whether it’s for a labor protest or fighting for child care subsidies.

“Is she a game changer – yeah. Does she clear the field – I’m not sure,”
Gallardo said. “I’m not sure what Mary Rose would do, I’m not sure what Ruben
would do, but I’m moving forward. I am in it for the long haul.”


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