GOP eyes Arizona US House seats in bid to flip control

The partisan makeup of Arizona’s U.S. House delegation is up for grabs when voters head to the polls today. (Architect of the Capitol photo/Public domain)

The partisan makeup of Arizona’s U.S. House delegation is up for grabs when voters head to the polls today. (Architect of the Capitol photo/Public domain)

PHOENIX — The partisan makeup of Arizona's U.S. House delegation and control of Congress itself are up for grabs Tuesday, with Republicans hoping to shift the state's 5-4 Democratic tilt by picking up two and possibly three seats.

Redistricting after the 2020 U.S. Census gave the GOP candidates a leg up in those three districts. Meanwhile, a district that had strongly favored Republicans for the past decade got only slightly less GOP-friendly. The other five districts are shoo-ins for the incumbents in districts that heavily favor the sitting members of Congress.

Nationally, Republicans need to net just five seats to take control of the U.S. House.

The most vulnerable Democratic incumbent is three-term U.S. Rep. Tom O'Halleran, whose sprawling 2nd Congressional District covers much of northeastern Arizona and dips south to the northern Tucson suburbs. Redistricting remade the district into one that strongly favors the GOP by drawing in the Prescott area.

O'Halleran hopes his voting record as a moderate is enough to overcome the heavy Republican advantage as he faces political newcomer Eli Crane. A businessman and former Navy SEAL, Crane has the endorsement of former President Donald Trump.

Democratic Rep. Greg Stanton has a better chance of beating Republican Kelly Cooper, a restaurant owner and Marine veteran who is another political newcomer, in the 4th District that includes parts of Tempe, Mesa, Phoenix and Chandler. The district has been held by Democrats since being created a decade ago, but Stanton faces a tougher fight as he seeks a third term.

Cooper, who also has Trump's backing, blames Stanton and President Joe Biden for inflation, high gas prices and the number of border crossings.

Stanton points to Cooper's call to defund the FBI, release people who attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and paints Cooper as an extremist on abortion, which has been a big focus for Democrats this year.

Southern Arizona's 6th District, held by retiring Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, also is slightly less favorable to Democrats under maps approved last year by the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission.

Republicans have chosen Juan Ciscomani, a former senior adviser to outgoing GOP Gov. Doug Ducey with strong ties to the business community, as their candidate in the district that runs from Tucson east to the New Mexico border. He's facing Kirsten Engel, an environmental law professor who resigned from the state Legislature to run for Congress.

The lone Republican U.S. House incumbent facing a realistic challenge is David Schweikert, whose wealthy 1st Congressional District covers parts of northeast Phoenix, Scottsdale, Paradise Valley and Fountain Hills. He faces Democrat Jevin Hodge, who runs a Head Start program and has called out Schweikert for past ethics issues and his support for Trump.

Schweikert says voters in the slightly less GOP-tilted district prefer his positions on the economy.

Three other Republicans and two Democrats are on the ballot but are expected to cruise to victory because of the political makeup of their districts and lack of opponents. They are Democratic Reps. Ruben Gallego in the 3rd District and Raul Grijalva in the 7th and GOP Reps. Andy Biggs in the 5th District, Debbie Lesko in the 8th and Paul Gosar in the 9th. Lesko and Gosar face only write-in candidates.

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