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As promised in last week's feature story ("And They're Off," June 6), here is a roundup of this year's legislative races.

The most competitive race this year is shaping up in Legislative District 9, a swing district that includes midtown Tucson, the Catalina Foothills and Casas Adobes.

LD9 is currently a split district represented by Republican Ethan Orr and Democrat Victoria Steele in the House of Representatives. Democrats, who hold a slight voter-registration advantage in the district (37% D, 32% R, 31% independent), are looking to capture Orr's seat with Dr. Randy Friese, a UA trauma doc who was the first to see Gabrielle Giffords when she arrived at the UA emergency room after the 2011 shooting rampage at her Congress on Your Corner event.

In his two years at the Legislature, Orr has generally voted along with his GOP colleagues on issues such as gun rights and abortion restrictions, but he's crossed party lines to support Gov. Jan Brewer's Medicaid expansion and the 2014 budget. Those votes have some conservative Republicans unhappy with him, but they did not recruit candidates to run against him in the GOP primary.

One potential wrinkle for Orr: The Skinny has heard that Democrats may try to strike him from the ballot by challenging his petition signatures, but no lawsuit had been filed as of the Weekly's deadline.

LD9 Sen. Steve Farley did not draw a challenge in the primary or general election.

In Southern Arizona's other competitive district (36% D, 33% R, 31% independent), Legislative District 10 Democratic Sen. Dave Bradley is facing a challenge from Republican Mark Morrison, an Air Force veteran whose political background includes stints working for former Utah senator Robert Bennett and former Texas senator Phil Gramm.

Meanwhile, the LD10 House incumbents, Democrats Bruce Wheeler and Stefanie Mach, face challenges from printmaker Todd Clodfelter, who ran for the House seat in 2012, and political newcomer William Wildish.

Legislative District 10 includes midtown and eastern Tucson.

In Legislative District 11, which includes Oro Valley, SaddleBrooke, Pinal County communities and the town of Maricopa, current state Rep. Steve Smith is seeking to move up to the state Senate as incumbent Sen. Al Melvin seeks the governor's office. Smith faces Scott Bartle, a Maricopa school board member and businessman who owns a marketing firm and newsgathering organization; the winner of the GOP primary will face Jo Holt, who made an unsuccessful ran for the Senate seat in 2012.

With Smith running for Senate and Rep. Adam Kwasman seeking a congressional seat, there are two open House of Representatives seats in LD11. Retired agricultural equipment salesman Vince Leach and former cop and firefighter Mark Finchem have formed a slate to face off against former Southern Arizona legislative liason Jo Grant in the GOP primary. The two winners will face off against Democrat Holly Lyon in this Republican-dominant district.

An intriguing Democratic primary is shaping up for the Senate seat in the westside's Legislative District 3, a heavily Democratic district. Veteran lawmaker Olivia Cajero-Bedford is facing a challenge from Sal Baldenegro Jr., who has been active in local Chicano politics.

The two Democrats in the LD3 House seats, Sally Ann Gonzales and Macario Saldate, have no primary challengers, but will face Republican political newcomer Patricia Flores in the general election.

There are no primary races in Legislative District 2, which stretches from downtown Tucson through Green Valley and Sahuarita down to Nogales. Democratic Sen. Andrea Dalessandro is facing Republican Daniel Estrella in the November general election, while LD2 Democratic Reps. Demion Clinco and Rosanna Galbadón will face Republican John Christopher Ackerley, a teacher who made an unsuccessful run for the House seat in 2012.

In heavily Republican Legislative District 14 (which includes Sierra Vista and a lot of rural Southern Arizona), GOP Sen. Gail Griffin does not face a reelection challenge. But in the House race, incumbent Republican Reps. David Stevens and David Gowan are set to face Susan Syfert in the GOP primary and Democrat James C. Burton in the general election.

REGULATORY RELIEF

Planned Parenthood Arizona won a round in court last week after a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals blocked a new state regulations stemming from 2012 law that restricting the use of medication abortion.

The regulations required doctors who prescribed the drug follow an FDA protocol that was established when the use of the abortion-inducing drug Mifeprex was first approved by the FDA in 2000.

But that protocol required a higher dosage of the medication than is commonly used today and restricted its use to seven weeks into a pregnancy. In the 14 years since the drug has been in use in the United States, physicians have developed what's called "evidence-based protocols," which have shown that the medication is safe to use through the first nine weeks of pregnancy at a lower dosage.

Reverting to the original FDA protocols would restrict the use of the drug during those additional two weeks and require that patients make an additional visit to the doctor—a requirement that can be particularly onerous for women in rural Arizona who must travel to a metropolitan area to have an abortion.

The ruling stated that attorneys for Planned Parenthood "have introduced uncontroverted evidence that the Arizona law substantially burdens women's access to abortion services, and Arizona has introduced no evidence that the law advances in any way its interest in women's health."

Planned Parenthood officials cheered the ruling.

"As a leading health care provider to women in Arizona, we want to protect women's health and safety, but these restrictions go against more than 13 years of medical research," said Bryan Howard, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Arizona. "It's 2014—it's well past time medical decisions be left between a woman and her physician."

Approximately half the women in Arizona who seek abortions use the medication option rather than a surgical procedure. And until another state law required the same facilities for dispensing the medication as performing a surgical abortion, Planned Parenthood could offer medication abortions in Yuma and Prescott. (Because of those restrictions, abortion services are now only available in Tucson, Maricopa County and Flagstaff.)

The new regulations are on hold as Planned Parenthood's lawsuit plays out in federal district court.

More by Jim Nintzel

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