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Republican Rep. Paul Gosar announced over the weekend that he will run for re-election in Arizona's 4th district.
The freshman represents the 1st district. He beat Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick in 2010 by a 6-point margin. Arizona's redistricting process made the swing 1st district more Democratic, but it is still considered a tossup. The 4th is solidly Republican.
Rumors about the Gosar switch have been circulating in state political circles since October, when the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission released its new map.
Two prominent candidates are already in the hunt for the GOP nomination in the 4th district. Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu officially entered the GOP race Jan. 4. State Sen. Ron Gould is currently in the exploratory phase of his campaign.
Gosar debated two options: run in the 4th and face an intense primary or stay in the 1st district and face a competitive general election.
Gosar lives in Doney Park, which is outside of Flagstaff in the 1st district. If there are no changes to the redistricting commission's map, Gosar will begin looking for a second home in the 4th district. His campaign will also be based in Yavapai County, in the 4th district.
Gosar represents 200,000 constituents in the redrawn 4th district, according to his campaign.
In keeping with its policy of supporting incumbents, the National Republican Congressional Committee will back Gosar. He is currently a member of and will continue to be a member of the committee's Patriot Program, which is designed to protect vulnerable incumbents. Babeu and Gould will not be eligible for the committee's Young Guns program.
Even though Babeu was a Gosar supporter last cycle, a campaign staffer made it clear the sheriff is not pleased with the Congressman's move.
Babeu general consultant Chris DeRose told Roll Call that Gosar regularly called his 2010 GOP primary opponent, Rusty Bowers, "a carpetbagger" despite Bowers having generational roots and owning a home in the district.
"Gosar has never lived or worked in the 4th district, does not own a home there, and doesn't intend to move there. Did the rules on carpetbagging change?" DeRose asked.
Gosar raised $200,000 in the third quarter and had about $235,000 in cash on hand.
As for the competitive 1st district, Kirkpatrick gets a big break in not having to face Gosar again. She ended the third quarter with $350,000 in cash on hand. National Democrats are increasingly bullish on picking up the seat while national Republicans insist that holding the seat is not out of reach.
Several candidate names are the topic of conversation among Republicans. They include: former state Rep. Bill Konopnicki, former state Sen. Jonathan Paton and Arizona Corporation Commission Chairman Gary Pierce.
Most of Arizona's districts changed numbers in redistricting. Prescott residents are pressing the commission to change the 4th district and renumber it as the 1st. If that were to happen, Gosar would be running for re-election in a district number that matches his current district.