Potential Rival Urges Kyrsten Sinema to Stay Put

If Sinema runs for Congress in another district, she will face a primary challenge, one candidate promised Sunday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A Democrat running for the seat of retiring Arizona Rep. Ed Pastor said Sunday he would not drop his bid in deference to freshman Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, a fellow Democrat who may opt to run for the newly opened seat instead of her own.  

Pastor's 7th District is solidly Democratic, while any Democrat running for Sinema's neighboring 9th District could face a tough general election fight every cycle until the next round of redistricting. Because of that, speculation about the possibility that Sinema might move to the open district emerged immediately after Pastor's Feb. 27 retirement announcement.

Democratic state Rep. Ruben Gallego, who announced his candidacy on Twitter minutes after Pastor made his retirement plans public, said in a Sunday interview with CQ Roll Call that he will run for Pastor's seat regardless of Sinema's plans.

"I'm a big supporter of Kyrsten Sinema," Gallego said. "I got to work for her, work with her. I've donated to her campaign the first time around, the second time around, and I hope she stays in District 9 because she is the right moderate, business-oriented voice for that district."  

He added: "But, if she decides to move to District 7, we will have a very spirited race and I will run against her."  

Gallego said that he hopes she stays in the 9th District "because I think we can do a lot of great work together."  

"Really, the Democratic Party in Arizona, they need her to stay in that district," he said. "She's really the only one who can win it."

As for the retiring incumbent, Gallego gave his tenure a mixed review. "Pastor's been really good about doing some amazing work in terms of bringing a lot federal projects back to Arizona," Gallego said, pointing to infrastructure projects like light rail and Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

"A lot of the complaints ... is that [Arizona Democrats] wish he would be a lot more vocal in terms of carrying about that progressive message," he said of Pastor.  

The 9th District is currently rated Democratic Favored by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call, while the 7th District is rated Safe Democratic .