- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 27, 2014

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) - Former Arizona Rep. Ruben Gallego won the Democratic primary in the 7th Congressional District on Tuesday, essentially ensuring he takes the Phoenix-area seat. Meanwhile, Republicans were locked in a tight race for the 1st District that runs from Flagstaff to the Tucson suburbs.

Gallego easily beat out one-time Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox and two others. He faces no Republican opposition in November’s election in the Democratic stronghold held by retiring Rep. Ed Pastor.

The Republican contest to run against Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick in the 1st District was razor thin, with House Speaker Andy Tobin and Springerville rancher Gary Kiehne separated by a handful of votes. The lead went back and forth between the two Republicans, while state Rep. Adam Kwasman was running third.

Kiehne has been outspent by both but has argued that people in the vast district don’t need to be represented by career politicians. Tobin says he’s a proven leader. Kwasman contends he’s the most conservative in the group.

Other districts settled primaries that will set the stage for what could be hard-fought primaries in swing districts in November.

Retired Air Force Col. Martha McSally won the Republican primary for the 2nd District, creating a rematch of a tight 2012 race between her and Democratic Rep. Ron Barber. He was an aide to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and replaced her after the two were shot at a 2011 campaign event in Tucson.

In the 9th District, retired Air Force pilot Wendy Rogers won the GOP nod, and will try to unseat Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema. The district covers Tempe and parts of Phoenix.

Gallego said his experience growing up poor, being the first in his family to go to college and serving in the military will keep him focused on curtailing the cost of higher education, making sure veterans get timely health care and improving the lives of people in the district.

“It was an uphill battle and many people didn’t believe we could do it,” Gallego said. “But we built a great grassroots organization. … I want them to know I won’t let them down.”

Wilcox conceded defeat and said she had no regrets. She said she would welcome any offer from Gallego to help address issues in the largely Hispanic district, particularly when it comes to immigration reform.

“I told myself whatever happens, you just accept it and move on,” she said.

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