U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva officially launched his re-election campaign Sunday.

Grijalva, 64, a progressive Democrat who has represented Southern Arizona in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2003, said this election is about "who are we going to be, what kind of people are we going to be and what kind of a nation are we going to be."

Grijalva has two challengers in the primary election for the new Congressional District 3, which includes portions of Pima, Pinal, Yuma, Santa Cruz and Maricopa counties. They are physician Manny Arreguin and businessman David Crowe.

Republicans in the running are conservative activist Gabriela Saucedo Mercer and business owner Jaime Vasquez.

In a 20-minute speech Sunday, Grijalva thanked his supporters and pledged not to attack his opponents or tolerate attacks. He said he won't hide from what he believes or hide from his record.

"In this political world, there has to be room for civility," he said, then added, "but I do have to tell you something about my opponents."

Arreguin and Crowe don't live in the new district or the old district, he said, so they can't sign their own petitions or vote for themselves.

He also told his opponents "welcome to the light," because both switched parties in recent years.

Grijalva then imagined what his opponents will say about him.

"First one is going to be: 'Raúl has outlived his usefulness. It's time for a new prototype of politician who can reach across the aisle,' " he said.

"My question will be, 'OK, when you reach across the aisle, how much do you allow mining in the Grand Canyon? How much of Social Security should be privatized? How much of education should we give away to vouchers and private schools? What part of women's complete right to their reproductive decision should be compromised?' "

The audience shouted "none!" after each question.

Grijalva also addressed criticisms about his call for a boycott of Arizona in 2010.

"Could I have been more subtle? Could I have phrased it a little differently? Yeah," but that's hindsight, he said. More important, he said, "we changed the narrative" in the discussion of Arizona's strict new immigration law.

"Sometimes in political life, you got to take a risk," he said.

He said the governor and the state Legislature have done more to hurt that state than his boycott comments.

Grijalva said he is going to focus his campaign on continuing to overhaul health care because recent changes didn't go far enough. He said he also wants to focus on continuing to get "real oversight" for financial institutions and "real investment" in jobs and education.

Grijalva, a Tucson native, went to college at the University of Arizona. He was director of El Pueblo Neighborhood Center and a member of the Tucson Unified School District governing board in the 1970s and '80s. He was a Pima County supervisor from 1989 to 2002.

Grijalva is married and has three adult daughters.

On StarNet: Read more about local, state and national political news at

About the candidate

• Office: U.S. House of Representatives, District 3

• Name: Raúl Grijalva

• Party: Democrat

• Age: 64

• Employer and position: Congressman

• Education: Bachelor's degree in sociology from the University of Arizona

• Political experience: Congressman, Pima County supervisor, school board member

• Top priorities: Continue health-care reform, oversight over financial institutions, real investment in jobs and education

Contact reporter Becky Pallack at bpallack@azstarnet.com or 573-4346.