By Terri Jo Neff |
Opening day for the first regular session of the 56th Legislature is Jan. 9, and the various legislative caucuses are wasting no time getting ready.
On Nov. 10, the Senate Republican Caucus and both Democratic caucuses announced the results of their internal election.
Sen. Warren Petersen was voted in as Senate President after reportedly beating out Sen. David Gowan by one vote. Taking part in the vote were the 15 Republican candidates who clearly won their seats in the General Election along with current LD2 vote leader Steve Kaiser.
In addition, three other Republican candidates (Sen. Nancy Barto, LD4; Robert Scantlebury, LD9; and Gary Garcia Snyder, LD23) were allowed to vote even though they were not leading in their respective races.
Serving with Petersen will be Sen. Sonny Borrelli as Senate Majority Leader and Sen. Sine Kerr as Majority Whip. It is unclear whether any of the declared Republican write-in candidates for LD22 Senate participated in last Thursday’s vote.
Also on Nov. 10, the Arizona Senate Democrats elected Sen. Raquel Terán as Caucus Leader. Her Assistant Leader will be Sen.-elect Mitzi Epstein, with Sen. Lela Alston serving as Democratic Caucus Chair and Sen. Rosanna Gabaldón as Whip.
Meanwhile, the Arizona House Democrats elected Rep. Andrés Cano as their Caucus Leader with Rep-elect Lupe Contreras as Assistant Leader. Rep. Melody Hernandez and Rep. Marcelino Quiñonez will serve as Co-Whips.
The House Republican caucus initially announced its leadership vote for Saturday, but that was put off until Nov. 15 due in part to three legislative districts still being too close to call.
In LD13, the first seat was handily captured by current House member Jennifer Pawlik, a Democrat. But as of press time about 250 votes separate Republicans Liz Harris and Julie Willoughby for the second seat.
In LD16, Republican Teresa Martinez won the first seat, while fellow Republican Rob Hudelson is less than 700 votes behind Democrat Keith Seaman for the second seat.
In LD17, the three top vote getters are separated by only 1,309 votes, with Republican Rachel Jones currently up 833 votes on Republican Cory McGarr, who in turn is up only 476 votes on Democrat Dana Allmond.