The race for state Senate in the new Legislative District 9 features a three-term state representative versus a political up-and-comer in one of the state's most competitive districts.

The new district includes midtown neighborhoods north of Speedway and east of Craycroft, Catalina Foothills neighborhoods, and the Casas Adobes and Flowing Wells areas.

The area was previously represented by Al Melvin and Frank Antenori, who are running in other new districts, and by Paula Aboud, who reached her term limit and created a vacancy.

Rep. Steve Farley, who previously represented a strongly Democratic part of the new district in the House, wants the job. He's being challenged by Tyler Mott, chairman of the Pima County Young Republicans club.

Farley said he likes being in a competitive district where candidates have to make a case to voters.

"This election is going to be won or lost by face-to-face contact," Farley said. "Two-thirds of the district is people who have never seen my name on the ballot, so I want to meet as many of them as possible."

The new District 9 is one of the most competitive in the state. Registered Democrats make up 37 percent of voters and Republicans are 33 percent.

Both candidates are focused on winning votes from independents, who make up 29 percent of the district's registered voters.

Mott hopes many independents will turn out to vote for the presidential election, and he thinks they'll vote for Mitt Romney and other Republicans on the ballot, helping his chances.

Farley said a lot of voters, including some Republicans he's talked to, are fed up with the Republican supermajority in the state Legislature.

"They're not buying the line that this majority has saved Arizona," he said. "They're not feeling very saved right now. They're upset with the partisan games that go on too much in politics."

But Mott said Farley has played that partisan game. He accused Farley of voting "no" on every bill brought by a Republican.

Not true, said Farley. He said he voted "yes" on four of every five Republican bills that hit the floor.

Mott said the district would be best served by a Republican.

"We have to have a voice up in Phoenix," he said. "And being in the majority has its privileges. I can actually get things through, where even if Mr. Farley was on the right side of an issue, he'd just be yelling at a wall."

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If you go

What: District 9 candidate forum

When: 6 p.m. Thursday

Where: Pima Community College's Downtown Campus, 1255 N. Stone Ave.

Sponsor: Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission

Contact reporter Becky Pallack at or 573-4346. On Twitter @BeckyPallack.