Former Speaker Pelosi steps into the CD9 race; asks voters to donate to Sinema

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

PHOENIX -- Democratic congressional candidate Kyrsten Sinema is getting some big-time political help from one of the highest ranking politicians in the country.

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is asking voters for a handout to help Sinema defeat Republican Vernon Parker in the state's new 9th congressional district.

In a letter posted on Sinema's website, Pelosi says voters need to step-up and give money before the end of the week, which marks the end of the first reporting period in the general election.

"All eyes are on Democrats this week," Pelosi says in the letter. "We must show that Kyrsten Sinema has what it takes to be one of the races that help us win the majority."

Pelosi became the speaker after the 2006 elections when Democrats won control of the House. But she lost the post four years later, after Democrats suffered big losses in 2010.

That year, Republicans across the country ran aggressive campaigns attacking Pelosi and President Barack Obama's leadership. The tactic worked as the GOP took back control of the House and elected current House Speaker John Boehner.

Pelosi, who is now the House Democratic Leader, is an unpopular figure with Republicans in Arizona, so Sinema's opponent wasted little time using the Pelosi letter to score some political points.

"There's a reason why Nancy Pelosi is no longer the speaker of the House," Parker said. "The American people rejected her liberal brand of politics."

Parker, who is the former mayor of Paradise Valley, then added, "I cannot imagine a country or a Congress with Pelosi or Sinema, I mean we will be the laughing stock of the world."

The race between Parker and Sinema promises to be one of the most watched in Arizona and the country, with millions of dollars likely to be spent between the two candidates and the outside groups that support them.

The battle will unfold in one of the most competitive congressional districts in the country. The political make-up of the area is evenly split between Democrats, Republicans and independents.

Parker survived a crowded seven-way GOP primary, winning by a slim margin over the rest of the field.

Sinema won by a sizable margin in her primary, despite a well financed challenger who spent hundreds of thousands of dollars with much of it attacking Sinema.

Sinema was unavailable for comment but her chief political handler, Rodd McCloud, slammed Parker's comments.

"Vernon Parker is running for Congress to enact extreme ideas that will do lasting damage to middle class families," McCloud said.

McCloud pointed to Parker's support of GOP Vice President Nominee Paul Ryan's budget. That plan would change Medicare into a voucher program in which recipients would get a set amount of money from the government to buy private health insurance.

McCloud also attacked Parker's opposition to abortion.

"These ideas might help politicians win tea party popularity contests, but they will hurt Arizona's middle class," McCloud said.