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Arizona Speaker Enters Race Against Ann Kirkpatrick

Arizona House Speaker Andy Tobin, a Republican, has announced his challenge to Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick in Arizona’s highly competitive 1st District.

“I’ve been blessed to serve and fight for you,” Tobin says in the rollout video. “I’ve done this before, and I’ll do it again.”

The video includes images of Tobin with President Ronald Reagan, and he repeatedly mentions his experience as state speaker. He made no mention of Kirkpatrick, who is a top target for House Republicans in 2014.

The two-term Democrat has run for the seat in each of the last four cycles. Kirkpatrick was first elected to the House in 2008, but lost re-election in 2010 to Republican Paul Gosar. After redistricting in 2012, Gosar moved to the 4th District.

National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Greg Walden labeled Kirkpatrick in a July interview as one of his “Slippery Seven”: Democrats who holds districts carried by the last three GOP presidential nominees.

Tobin is the favorite candidate of Republicans in Phoenix, the geographic political power base of the state. One potential vulnerability is that he lives in Prescott, according to The Arizona Republic, which is not in the district.

Tobin joins two other Republicans in the primary: first-term state Rep. Adam Kwasman and rancher Gary Kiehne.

Initially, this was a slow-forming GOP field. The primary will more than likely be a race to the right, but some Republicans argue that is not necessarily a detriment, given the conservative nature of the district.

Kwasman announced an exploratory committee for the race in July. He is from the Tucson area, on the southern edge of the 1st. He was veteran Jesse Kelly’s campaign manager in another district in 2010. Kelly had a fervent tea party activist base, and some of those who supported his two House campaigns say they are enthusiastic about supporting Kwasman.

Kiehne announced his candidacy in mid-September.

The Arizona 1st is a sprawling, rural district that covers most of the eastern part of the state. It includes Native American reservations and the Grand Canyon.

The race is rated Tilts Democratic by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.

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