Here's the Tribune's Le Templar on the CD 5 race.
The possible bid by Rep. Mark Anderson, R-Mesa, for the congressional seat currently held by Rep. Harry Mitchell, D-Tempe, opens a new dimension for this race. I have been told that some Republican Party regulars (include a few potential competitors) are trying to talk him out of running to reduce the bloodletting in a combative primary. But his announcement about creating an exploratory committee, as reported Wednesday by Tribune writer Paul Giblin, demonstrates an independent streak that characterizes Anderson's general relationship with other Republican politicians.
Anderson is a reliably pro-life, pro-family values conservative with a track record of quietly winning elections in west Mesa. He's considered less ideological and less inflammatory than his two colleagues from legislative District 18, Rep. Russell Pearce and Sen. Karen Johnson. He sees a limited role for government beyond basic public safety and transportation issues. (He believes in the effectiveness of drug addiction treatment, for example, and has supported government funding for faith-based approaches). He struggles from time to time with religious slights against his membership in Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church (which somehow gets confused with Scientology).
Anderson has shown he can work face-to-face with Democrats to shape policy. That certainly could help Anderson in a general election match up. But a reputation for reaching across the party aisle might hurt him in a Republican primary where at least some party voters will be looking for a highly partisan candidate to clash with Mitchell.
Another challenge for Anderson is his Mesa support base falls largely outside of Congressional District 5. He has to figure how to appeal to Republicans in Scottsdale and Ahwatukee Foothills who don't share as strong a dislike for government spending as their Mesa counterparts, while preferring less government interference on social issues. (Keep in mind, we're talking shades of GOP red here).
A good gauge of Anderson's potential success will be how much money he can raise before he makes a final decision on whether to enter the race, probably in January. A relative lack of money might not keep Anderson from running. But it could very well prevent him from reaching enough voters to have a real impact on the September 2008 primary.