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Pastor to leave Congress, candidate scramble begins

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Pastor to leave Congress, candidate scramble begins

  • Pastor

The senior member of Arizona's congressional delegation, 11-term Rep. Ed Pastor of Phoenix, announced Thursday that he will not seek re-election. The move set off an instant flurry of online speculation about who would seek to replace him in what's widely seen as a safe Democratic seat. State Rep. Ruben Gallego quickly tweeted, "I'm in for Congress."

Pastor, first elected in 1992, said, "I've been in public office for 39 years and it's been a pleasure to serve the people of Arizona. After 23 in Congress, I feel it's time for me to seek out a new endeavor. It's been a great honor, a great experience and a great joy for me to serve in Congress. I think it's time for me to do something else."

Before becoming the first Hispanic Arizonan to serve in Congress, Pastor was a Maricopa County supervisor from 1976-1991.

A member of the House Appropriations Committee, Pastor played a role in bringing light rail to Phoenix and the Sun Link streetcar to  Tucson, along with obtaining funding for Tempe Town Lake, Tucson's Arroyo Chico and other infrastructure projects.

Pastor was sent to Congress after a September 1991 special election to replace U.S. Rep. Mo Udall. His district then included parts of Tucson, along with Nogales, Yuma, and a section of Phoenix. Redistricting in 2000 found Pastor representing a district covering much of Phoenix, south Glendale and Guadalupe.

That district is a solid seat for Democrats; Pastor was re-elected in 2012 with more than 80 percent of the vote when the GOP didn't run anyone against him. With the exception of his first race, in which he garnered 56 percent, Pastor never received less than 62 percent of the vote.

While the announcement set off an immediate social-media flurry of speculation on who would run in November, the overwhelming Democratic edge led some Republicans to joke that they may not field a candidate. In 2012, Pastor faced only Libertarian candidate Joe Cobb.

One Democrat eager to jump into the race is state Rep. Ruben Gallego, who quickly tweeted, "I am in for Congress."

Gallego, first elected to the Legislature in 2010, was a leader in the failed effort to recall Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

House Minority Leader Chad Campbell was a bit more subdued in his response to the news.

"I will be looking at all factors and talking with family, friends and others who are are considering a run. I will be making a decision in the coming days," he said in a Facebook post.

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