Ed Pastor to Retire After 23 Years in Congress

Democratic Congressman Ed Pastor announced today that this will be his last term in Congress.

Pastor will have spent 23 full years in Congress when this term expires. He was first elected via special election in 1991, to replace Mo Udall, who retired for health reasons.

Pastor was the first Hispanic person from Arizona elected to Congress, according to his office. Before that, from 1976 to 1991, Pastor served as a Maricopa County Supervisor.

"I've been in public office for 39 years, and it's been a pleasure to serve the people of Arizona," Pastor says in a statement. "After 23 in Congress, I feel it's time for me to seek out a new endeavor. It's been a great honor, a great experience, and a great joy for me to serve in Congress. I think it's time for me to do something else."

Even after redistricting reshaped Pastor's congressional district twice during his career, he's never faced real significant opposition other than in the 1991 special election. The closest any Republican ever got to Pastor in an election was about 30 percentage points. He won with nearly 82 percent of the vote in 2012, with no Republican challenger.

Pastor currently sits on the House Appropriations Committee, as well as three subcommittees.

In his retirement statement, Pastor takes credit for securing funding for the light rail and transit systems, numerous habitat-restoration projects, and securing funding for major infrastructure projects in Phoenix, including the tower at Sky Harbor airport.

State Representative Ruben Gallego, a Democrat, has announced that he'll be in the running for Pastor's seat. Other Dems will be likely to follow.

UPDATE 12:26 p.m.: From House Minority Leader Chad Campbell:

UPDATE February 28: Senator Steve Gallardo and Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox say they're entering the race.

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