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Republican minister to challenge Grijalva

Citizen Staff Writer



Gene Chewning knows he’s seen as the biannual Republican sacrifice in Arizona’s 7th Congressional District, but says he’s not worried about it.

He’s running in a district where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-1, and independents outnumber Republicans.

Incumbent Democrat Raúl Grijalva has won each of his three terms by more than 20 percentage points.

“That’s why everyone is going to be surprised when I win,” Chewning said.

Chewning, 57, is a career pastor in the Assembly of God church, and he said he sees Hispanics in his South Side church struggle economically.

“I see people in my church losing their jobs to illegal workers,” he said, and he promises to vote to ratchet up border enforcement.

The Vietnam veteran, whose son is a disabled veteran from the war in Iraq, said he would want troops to come home from Iraq but “only in victory.”

Economically, Chewning has populist leanings in opposing free trade and the North American Free Trade Agreement, but he does want to make the Bush tax cuts permanent.

Most of all, Chewning says, he wants a change in how the southwestern Arizona district is represented by self-described liberals such as Grijalva.

“I got tired of complaining and decided to do something about it,” he said.

Chewning is a native Tucsonan and has spent years as a missionary in Southeast Asia.

He’s married with two children and is the pastor at Living Word Assembly of God Church, 3602 S. 12th Ave.

In 2006, he lost a bid for the state House of Representatives.

Age: 57

Party: Republican

Education: 1983 graduate of Trinity Bible College, N.D.

Career: Missionary and pastor

Military: U.S. Navy, 1969-73

Family: Married with two children

Issue: Protecting America and values


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