Ruben Gallego, Quickly Ascending Political Star, Likely Heading to Congress

Ruben Gallego and his wife, Kate, celebrating victory.
Ruben Gallego and his wife, Kate, celebrating victory.
Monica Alonzo

Ruben Gallego's political star has ascended quickly in Arizona politics.

Last night, the 34-year-old beat out a politically connected and well-known Democrat in a race for Arizona's 7th Congressional District.

See also: -Video: Mary Rose Wilcox Concedes Seat in Arizona's 7th Congressional District -Ruben Gallego's Election Night Party Is Exploding; Mary Rose Wilcox Concedes

In November, he'll face a challenge from Independent candidate Jose Peñalosa, an immigration attorney, and Libertarian Joe Cobb.

But given Gallego's well-oiled and well-funded political machine -- and significant victory over Mary Rose Wilcox, a fixture in Latino politics -- it's unlikely Peñalosa or Cobb will put a significant dent in Gallego's general election campaign.

Even so, Gallego and his team want to continue urging residents to vote in the general election to help other statewide Democratic candidates.

That is, after some much needed sleep.

Andy Barr, a consultant on Gallego's congressional campaign, says that "part of the reason so many people gravitated to this campaign is because it's about something bigger than just one candidate."

The aim is consistent turn out from the predominately Latino districts.

"We can't just go to voters a few weeks before an election and ask them to vote," Barr says. "We need to make people feel connected to their community."

Getting people to show up on Election Day is what Gallego is good at.   The former U.S. Marine demonstrated his political prowess when he took on a campaign for Michael Nowakowski, who was running against Congressman Ed Pastor's daughter, Laura Pastor, for a seat on the Phoenix City Council.

Despite her family's deep political roots and having a well-funded campaign, Gallego led Nowakowski to a surprising victory in the city's 2007 general election.

He served as Nowakowski's chief of staff and in 2010, ran a successful campaign for the Arizona House of Representatives. After just one term, he became the assistant minority leader in 2012.

When Congressman Ed Pastor announced he wouldn't be seeking reelection in Arizona's 7th Congressional District -- Gallego pounced.

According to early and unofficial results, Gallego and his team received 11,644 votes, or 48 percent of ballots cast.

Mary Rose Wilcox, a former Maricopa County Supervisor who has served the community for more than two decades and was endorsed by the outgoing Pastor, received 8,806 votes, or about 36 percent.

The other two Democrats in the primary election received a little more than 7 percent of the vote, about 1,800 votes each.

Got a tip? Send it to: Monica Alonzo.

Follow Valley Fever on Twitter at @ValleyFeverPHX. Follow Monica Alonzo on Twitter at @MAD_Blogger.

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