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Republican Kevin Cavanaugh jumps into CD1 race
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Republican Kevin Cavanaugh jumps into CD1 race

A former deputy chief in the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office has traded in his badge in the hopes of securing a congressional lapel pin.

Kevin Cavanaugh has spent the last few months criss-crossing the vast Congressional District 1 to secure support from Republicans for his run in next year’s midterm elections.

He got into the race early, he said, because he realized the same group of candidates who had failed to turn CD1 red in the last two election cycles were unlikely to beat his would-be Democratic rival, Rep. Tom O’Halleran, who now represents the district that stretches from north of Tucson to Flagstaff.

On the campaign trail, Republicans ask him the same question over and over again. “Are you a RINO — Republican in Name Only?” He said he isn’t.

“I think conservatives are disappointed with many Republican political figures,” he said. “Some Republican legislators ... are abandoning conservative issues.”

Cavanaugh said he is a life-long conservative, against abortion and a supporter of gun rights. He supports the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and the building of a wall along the Mexican border.

In his mind, the ACA needs to be replaced as quickly as possible. “The American people were sold a lemon,” Cavanaugh said about the ACA. “It is a complete failure.”

He said while he identifies as a Republican, Cavanaugh said he wants to address issues that affect the district and the nation. “I am a fixer so I am hoping to use my skills when I get into office,” he said.

Cavanaugh started in law enforcement in 1986, working as a civilian for a police department in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan while attending college. He worked in law enforcement in Michigan and Indiana before moving to Arizona to be closer to his wife’s family. He served in the Pinal Sheriff’s Office for less than a year before resigning to run for office.

In addition to working in law enforcement, he has also owned several businesses.

Cavanaugh said his wife, Samai, who is from Mexico, urged him to run for Congress.

Contact reporter Joe Ferguson at or 573-4197. On Twitter: @JoeFerguson

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Joe has been with the Star for six years. He covers politics as well as the city of Tucson and other municipalities in Southern Arizona. He graduated from the UA and previously worked for the Arizona Daily Sun.

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