REP. GEORGE CUNNINGHAM is giving up the House to run for the seat of retiring state Sen. Patti Noland in northeastern District 13, opening a three-way contest between incumbent Andy Nichols and challengers Colette Philip and Brian Fagin.
The founder and executive director of the Arizona Public Interest Research Group (AZPIRG), Fagin helped spearhead the ballot effort that gave voters a chance to set six-year term limits in the Legislature. He says he's concerned about ethical behavior in the statehouse and eager to tackle health, safety and education issues. He has not run for office previously.
Neither has challenger Collette Philip, who has worked campaigns for District 11 Rep. Elaine Richardson. Philip says she'll concentrate on education, abortion rights and preventive programs for juveniles.
The two winners of the Democratic primary will face Republicans Scott Kirtley and Shane Wikfors. Kirtley, a Spanish teacher at a private school, has worked for the civil rights division of the department of education and as an intern for U.S. Rep. Jim Kolbe. Wikfors, who ran unsuccessfully for the same seat two years ago, is a staunchly pro-life religious conservative.
Expect a tight campaign; with about 31,500 registered Republicans and 30,500 registered Democrats, District 13 is one of the rare districts where voter registration is so close that both Republicans and Democrats have fairly even chances of winning a seat.
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