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Attorney Ellen Simon (D), who lost to Rep. Rick Renzi (R) in last year’s race for the 1st district, has filed papers with the Federal Election Commission and is now an official candidate for 2008.

Renzi defeated Simon by 8 points while garnering 52 percent of the vote in one of the worst cycles in years for the GOP. But with the Republican now facing two federal investigations, speculation is mounting that he will not run for re-election and may possibly resign before the conclusion of his current term.

“Ellen has a clear advantage because she has a network of supporters both on the ground and in fundraising,” said Thomas Mills, a Democratic consultant advising Simon.

The 1st district has around 14,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans but has elected Renzi in three successive cycles while voting for the GOP presidential nominee in 2000 and 2004.

Renzi’s troubles have prompted several potential candidates on both sides of the aisle to examine running for Congress in the rural, Northeastern Arizona district. Potential Democratic candidates include state Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick; attorney Jim Ledbetter; and state Department of Environmental Quality Director Jim Owens, among others.

The field of possible GOP candidates includes at least six individuals, with former state Senate President Ken Bennett and businessman Lewis Tenney among them.

— David M. Drucker

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