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Crowe officially switches races, will challenge Grijalva in primary

Former U.S. Senate hopeful David Crowe has officially switched races and will challenge U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva in the Democratic primary.

Crowe, a Tucson defense contractor, filed a statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission on Jan. 12, according to FEC records. The same day, he told the Arizona Capitol Times that he wasn’t yet sure whether he would run against Grijalva in the new 3rd Congressional District or run for the seat recently vacated by U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

“As a business owner for the past 17 years, I understand the importance of small and medium-size businesses to our economy. The problems facing Arizona and the United States have never been as challenging as they are today. For the first time in history, we see our children’s opportunities diminishing, no longer as strong and bright as the opportunities we have enjoyed during our lives. Because of these current challenges, I am running for U.S. Congress (Arizona-CD3),” reads a message on Crowe’s website.

Spokeswoman Charla Bailey said Crowe would officially launch his campaign in Tucson on Feb. 8.

Crowe is the president and co-founder of Tucson Embedded Systems, which provides hardware and software to the aerospace and defense industries.

Grijalva, who was first elected to Congress in 2002, faced a surprisingly robust challenge in 2010 from Republican Ruth McClung after he called for a boycott of Arizona in the wake of the illegal immigration law SB1070. The move angered even many Democrats who were deluged with attacks from the GOP over their opposition to the law and their associations with people and organizations supporting boycotts of the state.

Former Sen. Amanda Aguirre, of Yuma, is also considering challenging Grijalva in the Democratic primary. A spokesman said she will decide her plans within the next two weeks.

While Grijalva became toxic after his call for a boycott, which he has since retracted, southern Arizona Democrats say he’ll be extremely difficult to unseat. A member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Grijalva commands a loyal and passionate following among the party’s liberal base.

Sen. Paula Aboud, D-Tucson, said Grijalva’s progressive base won’t give up without a major fight.

“He has been a champion of the progressives,” Aboud said. “They’re not going to let it happen in a primary.”

Jeff Rogers, chairman of the Pima County Democratic Party, said Grijalva has acknowledged that he “overshot the mark” when he called for a boycott.” But southern Arizona Democrats, environmental groups, labor unions and others will close ranks around him in a primary.

“Grijalva will have that seat for as long as he wants to have it,” Rogers said.

Crowe will likely also face problems with the party base due to his recent past as a Republican. Crowe was registered as a Republican for 15 years before re-registering as a Democrat in Dec. 2010. He also backed McClung in her 2010 campaign against Grijalva, writing in the Arizona Technology Council’s endorsement that she has the “background, training and practical experience to actually find solutions and solve problems.”

Crowe contributed $500 to Grijalva in May, but the money was refunded about a week later.

Some Democrats, however, have already thrown their support behind Crowe. Sen. Robert Meza, D-Phoenix, said in early January that he planned to endorse Crowe over Grijalva.

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