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Sinema won’t run in congressional district of retiring Democrat Pastor

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PHOENIX – Democratic U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema said Thursday she won’t switch districts to run for the congressional seat held by retiring U.S. Rep. Ed Pastor.

“I am flattered that some of my old neighbors and friends asked me to consider running for Congress in District 7,” she said on her Facebook page. “But I love my job representing the people of the 9th district and there is so much more to be done on behalf of the middle class.”

A woman who answered the phone at Sinema’s campaign office Thursday afternoon said the congresswoman wouldn’t comment further on her decision.

Sinema, a former state lawmaker, narrowly defeated Republican Vernon Parker in 2012 in the first election for the 9th Congressional District, which stretches from Paradise Valley into parts of the East Valley. Republicans narrowly outnumber Democrats in the district.

Pastor’s district, which includes most of south and central Phoenix as well as parts of Glendale, Guadalupe and Tolleson, has far more registered Democrats than Republicans.

Since Pastor announced last week that he is retiring after 23 years in Congress, three Democrats have said they intend to run: Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox, state Sen. Steve Gallardo of Phoenix and state Rep. Ruben Gallego of Phoenix.

Speculation that Sinema could move over to Pastor’s district prompted 16 Latino business and community leaders to urge her this week not to do so. In an open letter, they said a Sinema run would “cause major disruptions in the possibility that the Latino community will have a representative from our community in Washington, D.C.”

Mario Diaz, the public relations executive behind the letter, called Sinema’s announcement “a great day” for those in both congressional districts.

“The best-of-both-worlds scenarios will be in play, keeping the talented Sinema in her district and electing a new member to Congress from District 7,” he said.

Rudolfo Espino, an Arizona State University political science professor, said that Pastor’s district is one of the safest Democratic seats in the country while Sinema’s is one of the most competitive.

“It just means that it’s more likely that that 9th District stays a Democratic candidate,” he said of Sinema’s announcement. “But, again, it’s not necessarily assured because it is a competitive district and it is a midterm election year.”