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Dems court businesswoman to run for McCain’s seat

Spurred on by the Republican infighting between U.S. Sen. John McCain and former Rep. J.D. Hayworth, Democrats are courting Southern Arizona businesswoman Nan Stockholm Walden to jump into the race.

Walden, vice president and counsel at the Farmers Investment Company in Sahuarita, is considering a run for McCain’s Senate seat and will likely make a decision by early April, according to spokesman David Steele. He said she is not speaking with media for the time being.

“Nan has been approached by a number of Arizonans who have expressed concerns about the need for a strong Democratic candidate to compete in the Senate race in Arizona. And they asked Nan to consider it, which she is,” said Steele, who is with the firm Strategic Issues Management Group.

Walden firm owns the Green Valley Pecan Company, which the Farmers Investment Company describes as the largest pecan farm in the world. She also serves as vice president and counsel for the Farmers Water Company, another subsidiary of Farmers Investment Company.

The prospective candidate also has extensive experience in government. A Stanford University Law School graduate, Walden served as counsel for former Democratic Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan and as chief of staff for former Sen. Bill Bradley.

In the 2010 U.S. Senate, the presumptive frontrunner on the Democratic side has been Tucson City Councilman Rodney Glassman. But Glassman has not filed his candidacy yet – he has an exploratory committee – and announced in February that he was putting his campaign on hold while he dealt with the Tucson’s budget crisis. Rudy Garcia, another Democrat who has decided to run for the office, is relatively unknown, even in Democratic circles.

Lobbyist and former Arizona Democratic Party Chairman David Waid said he has spoken to Walden about a possible run. He said the McCain-Hayworth primary battle generated new interest in the race among Democrats. The party must be prepared to face either Hayworth or a severely wounded McCain in the general election, he said, and Glassman’s ambivalence has some asking questions about whether he’s serious about the race.

“Those two things could potentially open up a doorway for a Democrat,” Waid said of the two possible GOP primary outcomes. “Rodney is not even a candidate at this point. He’s exploring it. And I think that no one knows where that will end. He’s been exploring it for a while. We’ve got to get to a place where we’ve got a candidate – not only a candidate who’s definitely in the race, but a candidate who is going to be a powerful voice for all those issues Arizonans care about.”

Walden has also served as counsel for the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee; director of the Presidio Council, an advisory body for the U.S. Department of Interior; director of the Western Conference of Attorneys General; counsel to the Western Conference of State Legislators; and has consulted for a number of environmental foundations.

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