The crowded Republican race for governor appears ready to claim its first victim.
Paradise Valley Mayor Vernon Parker said Monday he is weighing abandoning his bid to oust incumbent Jan Brewer in the GOP primary in favor of instead trying to become a member of Congress.
Parker, speaking through a press aide, refused to be interviewed. But in a prepared statement, Parker said the announcement by Congressman John Shadegg not to seek re-election created an alternate opportunity.
That race could prove equally as crowded, with three state legislators -- Sens. Jim Waring of Phoenix and Pamela Gorman of Anthem and Rep. Sam Crump, also of Anthem -- already staking out their turf.
But Jim Haynes, president of Behavior Research Center which does political polling, said the move would make political sense.
"The question in the governor's race was, could he ever cut his way out of the herd?'' Haynes said.
All four of the high-profile Republicans hoping to beat Brewer have the same basic message: They are opposed to the incumbent's plan for a temporary hike in the state sales tax and believe the best way to balance the budget is by growing the economy.
Of the four, state Treasurer Dean Martin leads in the polls, aided by his statewide name recognition. Parker has been back in single digits along with former Board of Regents President John Munger and Paulden business owner Owen Buz Mills.
The big potential loser in Parker getting out of the race is Brewer, as it means there are fewer places for the anti-Brewer votes to go.
And Haynes said going after Shadegg's seat would be "a very attractive alternative'' for Parker.
In seeking a congressional seat, Parker would need to appeal only to residents of that district which includes central and north Phoenix, Paradise Valley and much of Scottsdale, versus having to pick up votes statewide.
Parker was planning to run for governor using public funds, an option that isn't available for a congressional race. But Haynes said Parker could have an advantage over his GOP foes among those with the checkbooks.
"A young, articulate black Republican, when they're in the middle of taking on Barack Obama, seems to me to be something that would be very attractive for them,'' he said.
In his prepared statement Monday, Parker said he will make a decision within 48 hours after "listening and considering.'' But Parker, 50, made it clear he has thought about the race.
"We need the politicians in Washington to stop printing money on bailouts for banks and create policies to help generate jobs for hard-working Americans,'' he wrote in his statement. "We need to bring fiscal conservatism, limited government and common sense back to America.''
Phoenix businessman Jon Hulburd is the only announced Democrat for the seat in the heavily Republican district.