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Picture Clears for Democrats in Renzi’s District

Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens, who was considering entering the Democratic primary in the 1st district, has opted against a 2008 bid, clearing the way for former state Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick to assume the mantle of Democratic frontrunner in the contest, according to a Democratic insider based in the Grand Canyon State.

Arizona’s 1st district is being vacated by retiring Rep. Rick Renzi (R) and is a top Democratic target. Kirkpatrick announced her candidacy earlier this year and was immediately viewed as a top contender (she already has been endorsed by EMILY’s List). But the prospect of an Owens candidacy kept many key Democrats in Arizona from endorsing her early on.

Owens’ decision not to run should clear the way for Kirkpatrick to solidify her support among Democrats. Former television reporter Mary Kim Titla (D) and attorney Howard Shanker (D) also are running, but their impact in the race is expected to be negligible.

Republicans also are prioritizing this race and have a bevy of competitive candidates mulling over a bid.

— David M. Drucker

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