by Rebekah L. Sanders – Jan. 4, 2012 11:00 PM
The Republic | azcentral.com
Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, who announced in October that he was considering a bid for Congress, said Wednesday that he is officially entering the race for the U.S. House of Representatives in Congressional District 4.
He is the first of what is likely to be several Republican candidates to run in the redrawn district that is expected to heavily favor the GOP.
The rural district starts in Florence, wraps around the Valley and includes much of central and western Arizona, including conservative Prescott.
State Sen. Ron Gould plans to announce his candidacy in the next week or so, campaign adviser Chris Baker said. Freshman U.S. Rep.Paul Gosar, who represents the neighboring 1st Congressional District, is considering running instead in District4 this year because of the way his district was redrawn by the redistricting commission.
The new map has nine congressional districts, up from the current eight, because of population gains over the past decade. Congress members are not required to live in the districts they serve, but it is considered preferable.
Babeu is a first-term sheriff who lives in San Tan Valley. He said he plans to focus on illegal immigration, high unemployment and the federal deficit.
“Right now, the biggest threats facing our country are from Washington,” he said in an e-mail to supporters. “It’s time for a new Sheriff in Washington. The American people are sounding a giant 911 call on Washington. And I’m responding.”
Babeu rose to national prominence in recent years as a leading advocate of tough border security and immigration enforcement.
He has been a fixture on the local and national media circuit, making regular appearances on news shows to blast the Obama administration over the Fast and Furious gun-running scandal, border security, high unemployment and the weak economy.
Jennifer Johnson, spokeswoman for the Arizona Democratic Party, said Babeu’s focus “has always been advancing his own image,” citing a trip this summer when the sheriff’s office spent more than $53,000 to send employees to a conference where Babeu received a national award.
Babeu was elected sheriff in 2008.
Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2012/01/04/20120104pinal-county-sheriff-babeu-announces-run-congress.html#ixzz1jvsyG4D4