Arizona’s Republican Party began, like most Republican parties in states settled by Southerners, in the urban and suburban portions of the state. It subsequently spread out to the more rural sections, and by the 1960s the party was dominant throughout the state, save for the heavily Hispanic areas in the southwest.
The 1st Congressional District covers much of the northeastern portions of the state. It is a massive district that includes cities like Flagstaff, although much of it is rural. It includes the Hopi and Navajo reservations in the northeast, which provide a strong base of Democratic support. The district overall tilts Republican, although it was designed to be a “fair fight” district.
Rick Renzi represented the 1st from its creation (it was split off from what is now the 5th District in 2002), but he retired in 2008 under the weight of scandals. The Democrats nominated Ann Kirkpatrick, who had represented a heavily Native American district in the state House despite her Caucasian heritage. Kirkpatrick dispatched conservative activist Sidney Hay by 17 points in the general election. Kirkpatrick then lost to Paul Gosar in the 2010 tsunami, but was able to recapture the seat in 2012 after Gosar left to run for an open seat near Phoenix with much more hospitable territory for a Republican.
This cycle, Kirkpatrick faces her toughest opponent yet in state House Speaker Andy Tobin. Both candidates are well-funded, and this is a top-tier race.