Originally Published: January 7, 2012 9:55 p.m.
PRESCOTT - Reaching out to the people who pushed him to victory in 2010, U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar announced Saturday at a Yavapai County Republican Party monthly meeting that he will run in the new 4th Congressional District instead of his hometown's new 1st Congressional District.
"Yavapai County, you've been so good to me," Gosar said to the party stalwarts at the meeting at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott. "I'm formally announcing my candidacy in the Yavapai district.
"I need your support. I'm proud to call Yavapai County home."
Newly drawn tentative final congressional districts put Gosar's hometown of Flagstaff in the 1st District with a stronger majority of Democrats than before. Part of the Verde Valley and Sedona ended up in CD1.
Prescott and the rest of Yavapai County ended up in a Republican-dominated 4th District with no current House incumbent. The new CD4 also includes parts of Maricopa (including Apache Junction), Gila, Pinal (including Florence), Mohave, La Paz and Yuma counties.
While 40 percent of the new CD1 registered voters are Democrats and 30 percent are Republicans, 42 percent of the new CD4 voters are Republicans and only 23 percent are Democrats.
After Saturday's announcement, Gosar told The Daily Courier he plans to establish a second home in Prescott until his youngest daughter graduates from Flagstaff High School, then he and his wife plan to move to Prescott full-time. His daughter currently is a junior.
His daughter happened to be playing a volleyball game at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Saturday morning, so he and his wife Maude headed over there to watch the game after his announcement.
"I'd like to come down to a lower climate," Maude Gosar said. She also remarked that she wouldn't mind opening a second antique store here because her Flagstaff store is running out of space.
Unlike state law governing state legislators, federal law does not require Gosar to live in CD4 to run for Congress here.
Supporters at Saturday's party meeting congratulated Gosar for his decision, while others appeared less enthusiastic.
Yavapai County Republican Party Chair Mal Barrett Jr. said he won't take sides in any primary races, but he noted that Yavapai County pushed Gosar to his victory against incumbent Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick of Flagstaff in 2010. Kirkpatrick wants the seat back this year.
"In the old CD1, without Yavapai County he would have lost," Barrett said of Gosar.
Barrett predicts a lively Republican primary race in the new CD4.
"Anybody who jumps into CD4 right now is in for a huge fight," Barrett said. "Everybody's positioning right now."
Arizona House Speaker Andy Tobin, R-Paulden, lives in CD4 and is considering a run for the job. Gosar said Tobin has thought about running in the last two Congressional races too, but decided against it.
Tobin said Gosar called him about his plan to run in the new CD4, and he told Gosar it would be a bad idea.
"That district over there will feel abandoned," Tobin said of the new CD1. "And it doesn't make sense to get a newcomer in a district at risk."
Arizona Senate President Steve Pierce, R-Prescott, commented on the move while working in Phoenix Friday.
"It's a shame he's not going to run against Ann (Kirkpatrick) again, but that's his decision," Pierce said of Gosar.
Gosar said he's not running away from Kirkpatrick, and he disagreed that he would have the best chance of any Republican to beat Kirkpatrick.
Arizona Sen. Ron Gould, R-Lake Havasu City, formed an exploratory committee in early December to consider running in CD4.
Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu announced his Republican candidacy for CD4 on Wednesday.
Gosar didn't have anything to say about those potential primary rivals Saturday, just noting that he already has a track record as a freshman in Congress.
He touted that track record for about 10 minutes to the Yavapai County Republicans before making his announcement Saturday.
"I've been successful because I listened to you," said Gosar, a dentist. "I'm not a career politician."