Arizona's 2nd Congressional District covers the southeastern portion of the state, including all of Cochise County and part of Pima County. It is approximately 7,838 square miles of ecologically unique and varied environment, consisting of mountainous regions and high desert grasslands including 83.5 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border.
The urban center of District 2 contains the north and eastern portions of Tucson. The residents of the district represent a large cross section of occupations and ethnicities. Many residents employed at the University of Arizona as well as in Tucson’s burgeoning high-tech sector, defense industry, medical facilities and agriculture and ranching industries.
Southern Arizona has an extensive military history. After the American purchase of the Arizona territory, the United States military created an installation near the Huachuca Mountains in present-day Sierra Vista. Fort Huachuca serves as the United States Army Intelligence Center and is home of the 111th Military Intelligence Brigade, training men and women who serve in the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines. Fort Huachuca also lays claim to the Department of Defense Human Intelligence Joint Training Center of Excellence. The unique location and climate of the Fort make it particularly valuable for electromagnetic testing of electronic and computer systems.
The 2nd District also is home to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. D-M is a critical asset to our national security and it serves as the home to the 12th Air Force, the 355th Fighter Wing. It hosts ten different units and missions ranging from providing combat airpower, search and rescue, electronic warfare and jamming, aircraft regeneration, and protection of our border with Mexico. Arizona’s arid climate means that Davis-Monthan is an optimal storage site for retired and decommissioned aircraft. The location eventually was nicknamed “the boneyard,” because it serves as the final resting place for many aircraft. The boneyard remains a mainstay of the Air Force base.
The 162nd Fighter Wing, which operates out of the Tucson Air National Guard Base, consists of about 1,100 full-time airmen and 600 part-time citizen airmen. It is the largest Air National Guard unit in the country.
The 2nd District has a rich agricultural history that continues into the modern day. The earliest evidence of farming culture traces its roots to the Santa Cruz River valley with settlements forming roughly between 1200 BC and 120 AD. These early inhabitants shared a number of cultural characteristics with the Hohokam to the north and were an agriculturally based tribe known for its highly sophisticated irrigation systems. Originally based in what is now the Phoenix area, the tribe traveled south, settling along the Santa Cruz and Rillito rivers.
For much of the modern era, farming was done on a subsistence basis. Arizona obtained much-needed access to water with the completion of the Hoover Dam in 1935. This ushered in commercial cultivation. In 1993, the Central Arizona Project – an irrigation venture that diverts much-needed water from the Colorado River to the state’s interior – constructed a 366-mile aqueduct that provides water to the area. Cochise County, however, still relies largely on ground water. Today, the top crops in our district are forage, corn for grain, pecans, cotton and vegetables. Additionally, the most important crop commodities by the value of sales are nursery, greenhouse, floriculture and sod, vegetables, melons, potatoes and sweet potatoes grains, oilseeds, dry beans and dry peas, and cotton and cottonseed.
For centuries people traveled to Southern Arizona in search of mineral wealth in the form of gold and silver. In fact, at the height of mineral exploration, one-fourth of all inhabitants of Southern Arizona were either prospectors or miners. Although the area contains significant deposits of silver and gold, copper eventually became the predominant mineral, driving the local economy and making the district the leading copper-producing region in the United States.
Archeological evidence points to early use of copper by Native Americans for decorative purposes. After the Gadsden Purchase in 1854, American prospectors mined for silver at the Santa Rita, Mowry and Salero mines in modern Pima and Santa Cruz counties.
Copper and silver mines dotted the 2nd District’s landscape during the 19th and 20th centuries, fulfilling America’s mineral needs and fueling the local economy. Presently, three of the 13 sites at which copper mining activities continue in Arizona are located within the 2nd District: the Johnson Camp, Mission and Sierrita mines.