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Aguirre exploring run for Grijalva’s U.S. House seat

In 2010, U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva narrowly staved off a challenge from a Republican upstart.

Next year, Grijalva’s fight may begin in the primary, as a former Democratic state senator says she is mulling a run against the five-term incumbent.

Former state Sen. Amanda Aguirre says she will formally create an exploratory committee tomorrow. The Yuma Democrat, who served in both the Arizona House of Representatives and Senate from 2003 until last year, cited Grijalva’s call last year for businesses to boycott Arizona because of SB1070 as part of the reason she is considering challenging him.

“He has represented the Tucson part of his district OK, but not the rest of it,” she said.

In addition to Grijalva’s call for a boycott, which he later said was a mistake, Aguirre said she disagrees with his stance on immigration.

“I don’t believe in his stance on open borders,” she said.

Aguirre was born in Mexico and immigrated to Arizona in 1987. She became an American citizen in 1992.

Aguirre said she believes the rural nature of the 7th Congressional District, which encompasses the southwestern part of the state and includes the western portions of Tucson and the far southwestern parts of Maricopa County, has not been represented in Congress.

“I’ve always represented rural communities (in the Legislature) and I think that I would like to continue to do that,” Aguirre said.

Aguirre said Democrats from across the district, including at least one Native American tribe and some in Grijalva’s political base in Tucson, have asked her to run.

In 2010, despite being the incumbent in a heavily Hispanic district where Democrats have a nearly two-to-one voter registration advantage over Republicans, Grijalva was nearly upset by an Anglo Republican, Ruth McClung. He captured barely 50 percent of the vote and bested McClung by less than 10,000 votes.

Aguirre said she believes she will need to raise upwards of $3 million to mount a viable campaign against a sitting congressman. She said she will begin raising money immediately.

Though he has nearly a year’s head start on fundraising, Grijalva does not have a significant financial advantage. Through the end of September, he reported raising about $193,000 for the year – of the state’s eight-person congressional delegation, only Republican Rep. Trent Franks raised less money – and had less than $60,000 remaining.

Aguirre said she expects to make a final decision on her candidacy by early January.

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