Editor's Note: In the final 100 days before Election Day, CNN has been profiling one race at random each day from among the nation's top 100 House races, which we've dubbed "The CNN 100." Read the full list here. Today's featured district is:
Arizona 5th: Rep. Harry Mitchell (D) is seeking a third term
Primary: August 24, 2010
Location: Central Arizona, including Tempe and Scottsdale
Days until Election Day: 70
(CNN) - As the headlines out of Arizona have focused on Sen. John McCain's re-election and J.D. Hayworth's bid to unseat him, a battle has been brewing for the House seat Hayworth once held.
Democratic Rep. Harry Mitchell is running for a third term in Arizona's 5th district. In 2006, Mitchell defeated Hayworth, a six-term congressman who swept into the House during the GOP landslide of 1994.
A half-dozen Republicans are vying for a chance to unseat Mitchell, including experienced politicians and newbies.
The challengers include Susan Bitter Smith, a city councilwoman; Lee Gentry, a businessman, attorney and accountant; Chris Salvino, a surgeon; David Schweikert, former Maricopa County Treasurer and a former state lawmaker; Mark Spinks, a realtor; and businessman Jim Ward. They'll face off in a primary on August 24.
Bitter Smith, Gentry and Schweikert were also on the ballot in 2008. Schweikert won the primary, but lost to Mitchell in the general election, 44-54 percent.
Libertarian activist Nick Coons and Green Party candidate Ryan Blackman are also in the race.
Mitchell's roots run deep in the 5th district. Prior to going to Capitol Hill, Mitchell served in the state Senate, was mayor of Tempe and taught at Tempe High School for nearly 30 years. (It's also hard to miss the 35-foot statue of him in downtown Tempe.)
"There's not many degrees of separation from Harry Mitchell and his family," said Rodolfo Espino, who teaches political science at Arizona State University.
Mitchell is known for engaging with his constituents – so much so that his aides have had to pull him away from conversations at times, Espino said.
Despite his familiar face, the native Arizonan is considered at risk in his swing district, though the degree of his vulnerability depends on who wins the Republican primary.
"Even though Mitchell has a lot of name recognition fairly, good favorable ratings – the anti-incumbent mood is something he has to battle against," Espino said.
Outsiders would place the 5th District in the far-flung Phoenix metro area, although the district includes only a small part of Phoenix itself. The major population centers in the district are Tempe, where Arizona State University is located, and Scottsdale, home to high-class shopping. Both are fast-growing and fairly affluent, typical of the booming suburban and exurban areas that dot the Sunbelt.
The diversity of the district makes the race especially unpredictable. The Democratic leanings of the college students and their professors in Tempe are usually counterbalanced by the GOP tilt among well-to-do retirees and white-collar workers in the rest of the district. The western parts of Chandler and Mesa are also in the fifth.
There are more registered Republicans than Democrats in the 5th district, but even with his home-field advantage, John McCain could only muster 51 percent of the vote in the 2008 election. George W. Bush won the district with 54 percent in 2004.