Tucson physician Manuel "Manny" Arreguin announced Tuesday that he will run against U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva. Arreguin, 50, a moderate Democrat, said "America is largely unhealthy" and a doctor is a good choice to help solve the country's problems.
He is "committed to ending the political paralysis stifling Washington," he said in a press release.
Arreguin will face incumbent Grijalva in the primary election for the new Congressional District 3, including portions of Pima, Pinal, Yuma, Santa Cruz and Maricopa counties.
Democrat David Crowe, a Tucson engineer and businessman, is also in the race. Republicans in the running are Tucsonans Gabriela Saucedo Mercer, a conservative activist; and Jaime Vasquez, a business owner.
Arreguin is best known for delivering babies and has no experience in politics. He has been working in Southern Arizona as an obstetrician and gynecologist for 20 years, currently at El Rio Community Health Center. He said his listening and problem-solving skills will translate well in his political career.
"I've been coming up with real solutions for real people," he said.
As chief of staff-elect at Tucson Medical Center, he has helped create policies that "promote and resolve health-care issues for a diverse group of patients, especially underserved populations," he said in his press release.
He was a Republican but switched parties 2 1/2 years ago because he was "frustrated with what was happening with the GOP here." "They started attacking the patients I take care of, started to demonize my constituents," he said, referring to the minority and immigrant patients at El Rio.
He said he's running for Congress because he wants to help fix the health-care system. "The first thing is getting the right people to the table," including physicians, he said.
He'd like to see Senate candidate and former Surgeon General Richard Carmona at that table.
Arreguin said he also wants to address border-security issues and overhaul the immigration system. He said small fixes won't work, and a team needs to examine the system as a whole.
"We were able to put a man on the moon and somehow we're not able to secure our border? That doesn't make sense," he said.
Ousting the incumbent won't be easy, he said, "but I'm certainly up for the challenge."
He praised Grijalva's leadership but said it's time for "a new generation of well-credentialed leaders."
He said he can't compare his job to Grijalva's but said he would approach the job of congressman differently as a physician who looks at problems and comes up with solutions.
Arreguin immigrated to the United States from Mexico as a child, grew up in Los Angeles and went to college and medical school at UCLA. He is married and describes himself and his wife as empty-nesters, with three adult children.
He said he and his wife moved to Southern Arizona in 1992 when they were looking for a great place to raise their kids. They lived in Tubac while he worked at the Mariposa Community Health Center in Nogales and then moved to Tucson.
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