Latino Wins Democratic Race for Udall Seat
Ed Pastor won the Democratic primary election for the seat held for 30 years by U.S. Rep. Morris K. Udall, virtually ensuring that Arizona will send its first Latino congressman to Washington.
The former Maricopa County supervisor will meet the Republican winner, former Yuma County Supervisor Pat Conner, in a Sept. 24 election. But, with Democrats holding a 2-1 majority in the district, many consider Pastor a shoo-in.
The special primary on Tuesday became necessary when failing health forced Udall, a Democrat, into retirement in May.
The race drew little interest among voters in the district, which includes Tucson, part of Phoenix and most of southwestern Arizona. About one-third of the district’s 250,000 voters are Latino.
Pastor, whose home territory includes Phoenix, received 37%, or 12,350 votes. His closest rival in the five-way Democratic race, Tucson Mayor Tom Volgy, got 32%, or 10,544 votes. Virginia Yrun, executive director of Planned Parenthood of Southern Arizona, got 27%, or 8,861 votes.
In the five-way GOP race, Conner’s closest rival was television weatherman John Kaites. Conner received 33%, or 4,253 votes, and Kaites had 29%, or 3,817 votes.
For several years, Pastor, 47, was the only Democrat on the Maricopa County Board. His accomplishments include leading a drive for prenatal care for poor people at the county’s hospitals and persuading the board to set aside federal revenue-sharing funds for nonprofit groups.
It was a generally lackluster campaign in which the strongest candidates shared similar positions on key issues. All supported abortion rights and all identified health care, the economy and the environment as major concerns.
Udall held the House seat for three decades after winning a special election in 1961. He has suffered from Parkinson’s disease for a dozen years and had a serious fall in January at his home in Virginia.