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Updated Aug 26, 2014 - 9:52 pm

Ruben Gallego wins Democratic House primary

Former Arizona state Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Phoenix, exits the podium after speaking at a news conference after Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed SB1062, a bill designed to give added protection from lawsuits to people who assert their religious beliefs in refusing service to gays, at the Arizona Capitol on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, in Phoenix. Gallego is running against Maricopa County Board of Supervisors member Mary Rose Wilcox and others in the Democratic primary on Aug. 26 for the open 7th Congressional District seat vacated by the retirement of longtime Democratic Rep. Ed Pastor. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- Former Arizona Rep. Ruben Gallego won the Democratic primary in the 7th Congressional District on Tuesday, essentially ensuring he takes the seat in the left-leaning Phoenix-area district. Meanwhile, three Republicans were locked in a tight race for the 1st District that runs from Flagstaff to the Tucson suburbs.

Gallego beat out one-time Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox and two others. He faces no Republican opposition in November's election in the Democratic stronghold held by retiring Rep. Ed Pastor.

``It was an uphill battle and many people didn't believe we could do it,'' Gallego said. ``But we built a great grassroots organization. ...I want them to know I won't let them down.''

Gallego said his experience growing up poor, being the first in his family to go to college and serving in the military will keep him focused on curtailing the cost of higher education, making sure veterans get timely health care and improving the lives of people in the district.

Wilcox conceded defeat and said she had no regrets. She said she would welcome any offer from Gallego to address issues in the largely Hispanic district, particularly when it comes to immigration reform.

``I told myself whatever happens, you just accept it and move on,'' she said.

Wilcox had touted her longtime service in the district and said she knew the issues better than Gallego. She said her support of gun buybacks, criticism of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and development of youth programs would resonate with voters.

In the 1st District, Arizona House Speaker Andy Tobin, state Rep. Adam Kwasman and rancher Gary Kiehne were battling for the chance to take on Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick in the general election. It's a swing district that already is attracting big money from national parties.

Tobin says he's a proven leader. Kwasman contends he's the most conservative in the group. Kiehne has been outspent by both but has argued that people in the vast district don't need to be represented by career politicians.

In the 9th District, retired Air Force pilot Wendy Rogers won the GOP nod, and will try to unseat Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema. The district covers Tempe and parts of Phoenix.

Retired Air Force Col. Martha McSally won the Republican primary for the 2nd District, setting up a rematch of a tight 2012 race between her and Democratic Rep. Ron Barber, an aide of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords who was wounded during the 2011 mass shooting at a political event in Tucson.

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