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Arizona’s 1st District race may impact control of US House

October 25, 2018
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FILE - This undated file photo provided by the Rogers For Congress campaign shows Wendy Rogers, a Republican candidate for Congress in Arizona's vast 1st District. Rogers proclaims that she'll support President Donald Trump's agenda if elected to a vast congressional district in Arizona. (Rogers For Congress via AP,File)

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Republican Wendy Rogers proudly proclaims she’ll support President Donald Trump’s agenda if elected to represent a vast congressional district in Arizona.

Democratic incumbent Tom O’Halleran says he’s less concerned with politics than policy.

The 1st Congressional District seat that includes high country, low desert and tribal land was drawn to be competitive, but it has been reliably Democrat since 2012.

A win for Rogers on Nov. 6 would make it harder for Democrats to gain control of the House. It also would counter a potential Democratic pickup in Arizona’s 2nd District.

Both candidates have been crisscrossing the district that is bigger than many U.S. states, at 55,000 square miles (142,450 square kilometers). It stretches from far northern Arizona to include Page, Flagstaff and the Navajo Nation, through the eastern part of the state and to the suburbs north of Tucson.

O’Halleran has been on both sides of the political spectrum, as a Republican in the Arizona Legislature from 2001 to 2009 and as a Democrat in Congress. He says the country must invest in its citizens, education and the economy. He says he’ll work to protect Social Security and Medicaid from cut-backs, and ensure immigration reform is comprehensive.

Political gridlock, he says, has kept Congress from addressing those issues.

“I’m as frustrated as most Americans are with the political system right now and its ability to function for the betterment of our society,” said the former police detective and businessman.

Rogers won a three-way race to become the Republican nominee in her fourth bid for a congressional seat. The retired Air Force pilot meets with voters mostly at restaurants, flying from stop to stop in a single-engine Cessna 182. She touts plans to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, cut taxes and prevent federal overreach.

Rogers, 64, said Social Security and Medicaid could be propped up if the federal government reduced spending to countries that “don’t like us.”

“This is not about me, this is about our country,” she said. “This is about maintaining the House of Representatives in Republican hands.”

Independent David Shock is the write-in candidate.

Democrats need to flip 23 House seats to win back the majority, a target that about mirrors the typical loss of about two dozen seats for a first-term president in midterm election.

Any Republican gains would make the path to the majority more difficult for Democrats.

O’Halleran had a significant financial advantage, raising $2.2 million overall with $765,000 cash in hand as of Sept. 30. Rogers raised $972,000 and had $333,000 cash in hand.

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