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Republicans Mobilizing for Mitchell’s House Seat

Lobbyist and former House Appropriations aide Jim Ogsbury is running for Congress in the 5th district, hoping to secure the GOP nomination and the right to challenge Rep. Harry Mitchell (D) in 2008.

Ogsbury, who lobbied Congress on behalf of the Arizona cities of Mesa, Chandler, Goodyear, Surprise and Sierra Vista, formerly served as staff director of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development following the Republican takeover of Congress in 1994.

In a telephone interview late last week, Ogsbury acknowledged Mitchell’s popularity but argued that he is wrong on several key issues for the Phoenix-area 5th district, which features a 15-point Republican edge in enrolled voters.

“I think he’s a fairly reliable vote for [Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)],” Ogsbury said. “He’s a big-government kind of Democrat.”

Ogsbury isn’t the only Republican eyeing the race: state Rep. Mark Anderson (R) last week announced that he was forming an exploratory committee, telling the Scottsdale Tribune that he was unlikely to make a final decision on the race until after the 2008 legislative session.

Democrats said Mitchell is delivering for his constituents and predicted Republicans would flounder in their attempts to unseat him next year.

“His deep commitment to the district and his impressive list of accomplishments continue to resonate well with the district,” said Fernando Cuevas, a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Ogsbury said he expects to have “a few hundred thousand dollars” on hand by the third-quarter filing deadline. He’ll need it if he hopes to catch Mitchell, as the Democratic incumbent closed the second quarter with $531,000 in the bank.

— David M. Drucker

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