Jan 24, 2023 - Politics

Democrats could see crowded primary for Gallego's seat

The outline of a congressional district shaded in green over a map of Phoenix.

Image from Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission

Ruben Gallego's Senate campaign could spur a free-for-all for the safe Democratic House seat he'll leave behind.

The big picture: More than a half-dozen names are floating around as potential candidates for the Democratic primary in the 3rd Congressional District, which is primarily located in south, west and downtown Phoenix.

  • Phoenix City Council member Yassamin Ansari
  • Former state House Minority Leader Reginald Bolding
  • Maricopa County Supervisor Steve Gallardo
  • Luis Heredia, state director for U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly
  • State Sen. Catherine Miranda
  • Phoenix City Council member Laura Pastor
  • State minority leader and outgoing Arizona Democratic Party chair Raquel Terán
  • Corporation Commissioner Anna Tovar

Why it matters: The 3rd District is an overwhelmingly Democratic, predominantly Latino district drawn to comply with the 1965 Voting Rights Act, meaning minority voters must have the opportunity to elect the candidate of their choice. The people who win there tend to hold the seat for many years.

  • Gallego was first elected to the seat in 2014.
  • His predecessor, Ed Pastor, represented the district for 23 years.

What they're saying: Ansari and Bolding both tell Axios Phoenix they're considering a run.

  • Gallardo tweeted he's not running and he's committed to electing Democrats as state party chair. Still, some speculate he may jump into the primary if he loses the party chair contest this weekend.

Zoom in: It's unclear who, if anyone, would be the frontrunner to replace Gallego.

  • Alex Alvarez, executive director of the advocacy group Progress Arizona, told us he thinks Terán would be the front-runner, given the Arizona Democratic Party's success during her two-year tenure as chair.
  • Some conventional wisdom suggests Pastor's name ID and status as Ed Pastor's daughter could make her the race leader, especially in a crowded field, Democratic elections attorney Roy Herrera says.
  • "I would say the candidate that has sort of the best ground game more than anything else is going to have an advantage," Herrera says, noting that CD3 has relatively low voter turnout.

The intrigue: Organized labor will play a major role, and the race could come down to who major unions like United Food and Commercial Workers back, lobbyist Mario Diaz said.

  • Jim McLaughlin, president of the UFCW Local 99, says his union plans to get involved in the CD3 primary.

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