Republicans have an 18-point voter registration advantage in the Fourth District, and every competitiveness model the state's Independent Redistricting Commission considered when drawing new lines pegged the seat as a safe Republican district.
But Gosar's chances in the new seat are complicated by a competitive Republican primary. Gosar will face Pinal Co. Sheriff Paul Babeu, who formally entered the race on Wednesday, and state Sen. Ron Gould, who established an exploratory committee last month. Gould represents a district around Lake Havasu City.
The move is good news for Democrats, particularly Kirkpatrick, who has already jumped into the race. Kirkpatrick had raised more than $450,000 through the end of September, according to the most recent reports she filed with the Federal Election Commission. Her money and the district's voter registration figures give Democrats a strong chance at winning back one of the 63 Democratic-held seats Republicans won in 2010.
Several Republicans, including state Corporation Commission Chairman Gary Pierce and former state Rep. Bill Konopnicki, have said they will run in the First District if Gosar ran elsewhere, the Arizona Capitol Times
Republicans also say ex-state Sen. Jonathan Paton is considering running in the district Gosar will vacate. Paton, an Iraq war veteran, lost a Republican primary in Arizona's 8th District in 2010, but party leaders were impressed by the amount of money he raised.