It's finally on. Rep. Ben Quayle (R) made official what many Arizonans speculated for months: that he will run against fellow Republican Rep. David Schweikert in the race for Arizona's 6th district.
"The work of Arizona’s redistricting commission has placed many people in difficult positions, but at the end of the day my choice is to continue representing the people I represent today," Quayle said in a statement on his website. "The large majority of them are in District 6, and their values are my values."
The 6th district is far safer for a Republican than the tossup 9th district, which is where Quayle's home is. It will no doubt be a bruising primary between the two incumbents, and the Schweikert campaign released a tough statement soon after the Quayle announcement.
"The United States Constitution allows candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives to run wherever they choose without regard to residency," Schweikert spokesman Chris Baker said. "Today Congressman Quayle chose to exercise that right when he announced his decision to run in Arizona's 6th district. That is his right to do so."
It is a curious statement given that in the first redrawing of the map, the draft that was released in October, Schweikert's primary residence was not in the 6th, although he does own property there.
In December, after touring the map around the state, the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission changed the lines of the 6th and put Schweikert's primary residence of Fountain Hills back into the 6th.
Quayle was just barely drawn out of the 6th district. One source in his camp told Roll Call at the time of the map's first draft release that his house was the distance of a pitching wedge stroke from the district line. Oddly, more of Quayle's constituents are in the district Schweikert lives in, while more of Schweikert's constituents are in the district Quayle lives in.
Quayle is viewed as the weaker candidate among establishment Republicans. There remains a perception and residual resentment among some Republicans that he was able to win his first election in 2010 on the strength of his family name.
Schweikert announced his candidacy within days of the map's draft release in October. Several Republicans have been waiting in the wings to run for the GOP nomination in the 9th and are expected to make their candidacies official with Quayle's move.