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Harry Mitchell

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Arizona's 5th district
Assumed office 
January 3, 2007
Preceded by J.D. Hayworth

Chairman of the Arizona Democratic Party
In office
Preceded by Jim Pederson
Succeeded by David Waid

In office
1999 – 2006

In office
1978 – 1994
Preceded by William J. LoPiano
Succeeded by Neil Giuliano

In office
1970 – 1978

Born July 18, 1940 (1940-07-18) (age 69)
Phoenix, Arizona
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Marianne Mitchell
Residence Tempe, Arizona
Alma mater Arizona State University
Occupation high school teacher
Religion Roman Catholic

Harry E. Mitchell (born July 18, 1940) is the current congressman representing Arizona's 5th congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives. Mitchell is a retired teacher, former mayor and councilman of Tempe, Arizona, former member of the Arizona State Senate, and former chairman of the Arizona Democratic Party.


Life and career

Born and raised in Tempe, Mitchell earned a bachelor's degree in political science from Arizona State University in 1962. He later earned a master's degree in public administration from ASU in 1980. In 1964, he began teaching American Government and Free Enterprise at Tempe High School, which he had attended and graduated from not long before. Despite being elected city councilor in 1970 and mayor in 1980, the part-time nature of Tempe's City Council allowed Mitchell to continue teaching. He did so for twenty-eight years, retiring in 1992.

Mitchell and his wife, Marianne, have been married for over forty five years. They have two children, one of whom, Mark Mitchell, currently serves as Vice Mayor of Tempe. Other politically-active members of the his family have included Harry Mitchell's brother, Robert Mitchell, who served as mayor and council member of Casa Grande, and his grandfather W.W. Mitchell, who served as a state legislator.

Elected official

In 1970, Harry Mitchell sought and won a seat on the elected-at-large Tempe City Council. Re-elected in 1974, Mitchell then sought the office of mayor of Tempe in 1980, gaining a majority of votes cast in the primary and avoiding a runoff. He went on to win every subsequent election for Mayor in landslides until his retirement in 1994. A large statue of Mitchell stands just off Mill Avenue, next to City Hall and the other buildings comprising the Harry E. Mitchell Municipal Complex.

Mitchell's work as mayor is often credited with revitalizing downtown Tempe, and building partnerships between small businesses, communities, corporations, investors, and Arizona State University to manage sustainable economic development and urban growth.

After retiring in 1994, Mitchell sought the Arizona Democratic Party's nomination for Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction, a constitutionally-mandated statewide-elected official charged with the management of Arizona's public schools. Mitchell narrowly lost in the primary — he attributes his only election loss to his inexperience in partisan races — and his opponent went on to lose the general election.

Four years later, however, Mitchell sought and won a seat in the Arizona Senate, representing Tempe and parts of southern Scottsdale. Even though his district was considered a "swing" district, Mitchell managed to win with clear majorities in each successive election. He has run under Arizona's Clean Elections law each legislative race, which provides public financing to statewide and legislative candidates as long as the candidates abide to certain restrictions and qualifications.

Facing term limits, Mitchell ran his last campaign for Arizona Senate in 2004. One year later, with the 2006 midterm elections approaching, Mitchell ran unopposed for chair of the Arizona Democratic Party after chairman Jim Pederson stepped down to run for the United States Senate. He was elected on August 20, 2005.

Mitchell oversaw much of the early ground work as the Arizona Democratic Party prepared for statewide elections on November 7, 2006. He was instrumental in the Democrats recapturing the Tucson city council from years of Republican control on February 1, 2006.

2006 campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives

Mitchell was head of the Arizona Democratic Party when a poll, sponsored by the Arizona Democratic Party and the DCCC, was leaked; the poll showed Republican J.D. Hayworth would be in a tight race against any of a handful of Democratic opponents; the district was rated "Toss-Up" by the Cook Political Report. Mitchell was pressured by several Arizona politicians and Rep. Rahm Emanuel, then head of the DCCC, to enter the race against Hayworth.

Mitchell stepped down as the chair of the Arizona Democratic Party on April 7. He entered the race on April 10 and raised a total of $213,209 for his campaign in less than two weeks.

By of the end of June 2006, Mitchell had nearly $700,000 on hand. An October 16 SurveyUSA poll showed Hayworth leading Mitchell by only 48% to 45%. On October 27, 2006, the Arizona Republic departed from its past endorsements of Hayworth and instead endorsed Mitchell. The polls demonstrated a slow, but deliberate, growth in the strength of Mitchell's popularity over the next few weeks.

On the evening of November 7, election day, most national and state news media outlets declared Mitchell the winner. However, Hayworth refused to concede, citing the significant number of absentee and early-voting ballots to be counted. As the ballots were counted and the results were updated each day, Hayworth never demonstrated the significant gains he anticipated and ending up losing the election by more than 8,000 votes. Hayworth conceded on November 14. Mitchell did not acknowledge his victory until November 22.

Mitchell is only the second Anglo Democrat to represent a significant portion of Phoenix since Morris Udall retired in 1991. The only other Anglo Democrat to represent the Phoenix area since then, Sam Coppersmith, left the 1st district (now the 6th district) after only one term to run for the Senate in 1995. He and Gabrielle Giffords, also elected in 2006, are the first Anglo Democrats to represent Arizona in the House since 1995.

He was easily reelected in 2008.

Committee assignments

Electoral history

Arizona's 5th congressional district: 2006 & 2008 results[1]
Year Democrat Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct
2006 Harry Mitchell 101,838 50% J.D. Hayworth 93,815 46% Warren Severin Libertarian 6,357 3%
2008 Harry Mitchell 149,033 54% David Schweikert 122,165 44% Warren Severin Libertarian 3,174 1%

See also


  1. ^ "Election Statistics". Office of the Maricopa County Recorder. Retrieved 2008-12-06.  

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
J.D. Hayworth
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Arizona's 5th congressional district

Succeeded by
Representatives to the 110th–111th United States Congresses from Arizona
110th Senate: J. McCain | J. Kyl House: E. Pastor | J. Shadegg | J. Flake | T. Franks | R. Grijalva | R. Renzi | G. Giffords | H. Mitchell
111th Senate: J. McCain | J. Kyl House: E. Pastor | J. Shadegg | J. Flake | T. Franks | R. Grijalva | G. Giffords | H. Mitchell | A. Kirkpatrick


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