By Daniel Stefanski |
Arizona’s Legislature is about to have a new member within its ranks.
This week, Arizona Republican Party Chairman Jeff DeWit sent a letter to the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, informing them that “on Monday, June 26, 2023, the elected Precinct Committeemen of Legislative District 2 convened a meeting to nominate three qualified electors to fill a vacancy in the legislature.”
DeWit revealed that the nominees were Shawnna Bolick, Josh Barnett, and Paul Carver.
Carver, the chairman of the Legislative District 2 Republicans, posted on his Facebook account that he is “honored to be among those chosen,” adding that “the meeting ran smooth and our LD did not disappoint with the Nominees. We are blessed in our LD to have so many amazing Patriots.”
Bolick, who served in the Arizona House before an unsuccessful run for the Republican nomination for Secretary of State in 2022, thanked the precinct committeemen who nominated her as one of the individuals for this vacancy, writing, “I honorably served my constituents at the Capitol for four years. I know what it takes to win. I am the only candidate who can hit the ground running on day one. While I was at the Capitol, I led the charge in so many policy areas with many of my bills earning bipartisan support and becoming law making me the best nominee to effectively represent LD2. I look forward to meeting with the Board of Supervisors to discuss with them why I would be the best replacement to represent Legislative District 2.”
Before he earned a coveted nomination, Barnett, who had previously run for U.S. Congress in the 2022 Republican Primary, tweeted, “I’m the one that can win in 2024 and defeat Judy Schweibert. I have the knowledge, wherewithal, & grit to get things done for the People. Some have already lost to Schweibert in past races and some have no real understanding of our 51 Constitutions. I am asking for your vote tonight to let me show you what can happen when someone is actually standing up against corruption and unapologetically using the Constitution to its fullest extent to our advantage.”
The legislative vacancy came about due to the sudden resignation of former Senator Steve Kaiser, who announced his plans to step down from his seat earlier this month. Kaiser’s resignation was official on June 22, giving Republican precinct committeemen in Arizona Legislative District 2 the opportunity to handpick nominees for consideration by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors.
Legislative District 2 is expected to be very competitive in November 2024, and at least one Democrat is already eyeing the Senate seat in the next General Election. Representative Judy Schwiebert wasted little time in staking a claim to a run for the Arizona Senate, tweeting on June 16 that she would be throwing her name into the Democrat primary for this district.
The Arizona Republican Party’s Chairman thanked Carver and the precinct committeemen “for their professionalism, hard work, and dedication to ensuring a smooth, fair, and transparent process.” DeWit stated that “we anticipate a prompt appointment by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors so that the work of the Legislature can continue.”
The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors’ role in selecting replacements for legislative vacancies has been a point of contention between them and some Republicans in the state legislature. Earlier this year, Senator J.D. Mesnard took to the floor of his chamber to address the Maricopa County Supervisors’ ongoing consideration of two legislative vacancies in both the House and the Senate. Mesnard’s frustrations boiled over on the Senate floor as he laid out his charge against the Supervisors’ alleged delay in filling the two vacancies for 19 (Senate vacancy) and 20 (House vacancy) days. He informed his colleagues that “the length of these vacancies is the longest, while we’ve been in session, in half a century – 56 years!” The East Valley lawmaker also said that 8.76 days is the historical average to fill the vacancy.
Senator Mesnard hinted that maybe his colleagues should take future action to change the statute to force the county board of supervisors to act with more urgency when filling vacancies during a legislative session.
The hint of legislation from Mesnard may be a reality in short order. On June 25, Arizona Senator Justine Wadsack tweeted, “I plan to introduce legislation that removes the power of the County BOS from choosing people to replace legislators who are Expelled or Resign. We must put the power in the hands of the PCs, who’s authority currently ends at presenting (3) candidates for the BOS to choose from.”
Freshman Representative Austin Smith suggested that this proposal could be presented to Arizona voters as a constitutional amendment – especially due to a Democrat governor who could be hostile to this idea from Republican legislators.
Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.