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Updated Oct. 14, 2010
Coming off a 17-point win in a Republican-held open seat in 2008, Kirkpatrick was initially viewed as less vulnerable than her Democratic colleagues in the 5th and 8th districts. But in this Republican-leaning district, Kirkpatrick now faces a steep climb to a second term.
Paul Gosar, a dentist, emerged from the crowded Republican primary with a significant amount of money thanks largely to his nationwide network of dentistry-associated donors. Gosar embraces the "rogue dentist" label some Democrats have given him.
Two Republican polls taken shortly after the primary showed the race as a tossup. While the district wasn't on the National Republican Congressional Committee's initial list of targets for TV ads, the committee went on the air Sept. 12 and has more than five weeks of TV time reserved.
Going forward, Kirkpatrick will work to paint Gosar's conservative views, including closing the Department of Education and privatizing Social Security, as out of touch with the district.
Meanwhile, Gosar plans to focus on Kirkpatrick's support for health care reform. Don't expect to see many debates here; in a twist, it's Gosar who refuses to debate Kirkpatrick, preferring more of a town hall style to a traditional debate platform.
District Profile from Politics in America
A population that includes artistic liberals, rural conservatives and a large American Indian population makes the immense 1st appear ripe for unpredictable elections. Sprawling across much of northern and eastern Arizona, the 58,608-square-mile swath is larger than 30 states.
Democrats have a slight voter registration advantage, and many locals call themselves environmentalists in a district that includes both sides of the Grand Canyon. Despite the Democrats' edge, however, residents of the 1st gave Arizona Sen. John McCain 54 percent of the district's 2008 presidential vote and went for the GOP in the 2010 U.S. House race when freshman Ann Kirkpatrick lost her re-election bid.
Sedona, a tourist destination renowned for its natural beauty, is home to art galleries and luxury resorts. The 1st also features mining and timber operations, but droughts and fires, which hit the area hard in the last decade, worry residents and officials.
The district has the nation's largest American Indian population (19 percent), and high rates of poverty and unemployment continue to be problems in American Indian communities. Because of longstanding land disputes, the 1st is missing a chunk of land in its northern section to avoid placing the Hopi Nation in the same district as the Navajo Nation.
Tourism, agriculture, timber, mining
Flagstaff, 65,870; Casa Grande (pt.), 48,540; Prescott, 39,843; Prescott Valley, 38,822
|2010||general||Paul Gosar (R)||112,816||49.7%|
|Ann Kirkpatrick (D)||99,233||43.7%|
|Nicole Patti (LIBERT)||14,869||6.6%|
|2008||general||Ann Kirkpatrick (D)||155,791||55.9%|
|Sydney Hay (R)||109,924||39.4%|
|Brent Maupin (I)||9,394||3.4%|
|Thane Eichenauer (LIBERT)||3,678||1.3%|
|2006||general||Rick Renzi (R)||105,646||51.8%|
|Ellen Simon (D)||88,691||43.4%|
|David Schlosser (LIBERT)||9,802||4.8%|
|2004||general||Rick Renzi (R)||148,315||58.5%|
|Paul Babbitt (D)||91,776||36.2%|
|John Crockett (LIBERT)||13,260||5.2%|
|2002||general||Rick Renzi (R)||85,967||49.2%|
|George Cordova (D)||79,730||45.6%|
|Edwin Porr (LIBERT)||8,990||5.2%|
|2008||Barack Obama: 44%||John McCain: 54%|
|2004||John Kerry: 45%||George W. Bush: 54%|
|2000||Al Gore: 45%||George W. Bush: 50%|