Rep. David Stringer’s resignation is likely to bring some disruption to the Arizona House of Representatives’ business, but it’s not expected to last for long, as lawmakers expect to greet their new colleague on April 3.
When there are vacancies in the Legislature, the precinct committeemen – elected, voting members of a political party’s legislative district organization – select three candidates to fill the seat. The board of supervisors from the county where the former legislator lived selects the new member from among those three candidates.
Republican precinct committeemen from Yavapai County will meet on Sunday to select their three nominees. Randy Garrison, chairman of the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors, said the board will select the new House member at its regularly scheduled meeting at 9 a.m. on Wednesday.
Lawmakers may welcome back a familiar face on Wednesday after the Board of Supervisors vote, as several former legislators who served recently are vying for the appointment.
According to an email that Yavapai County GOP Chairwoman Donna Tanzi sent to precinct committeemen on Thursday, former Senate presidents Ken Bennett and Steve Pierce will be nominated on Sunday, as will former Rep. Lucy Mason.
Political insiders view Pierce as the frontrunner. Pierce, who served in the Senate from 2009-16, including a stint as Senate president in 2011-12, said several people asked him put his name forward as a candidate. He said he’s willing to serve out the remainder of Stringer’s term, but won’t seek a full term in next year’s election if he’s chosen.
Bennett took a similar position. Bennett served in the Senate from 1999-2006, and also served as Arizona secretary of state from 2009-2014. He was Senate president in 2005-06.
“That’s not my intent, just restart another career in the Legislature. I’ve been there, done that. But I think could give some focus to the budget challenges that the state’s facing right now,” Bennett said.
Mason, who served in the House of Representatives from 2003-10, could not be reached for comment.
Tanzi’s email included the names of several other aspiring candidates for Stringer’s old seat: Ray Everett, who served in the legislature from 1969-74; Alex Harris; former Prescott City Councilman Kuknyo; and Jeff Wasowicz.
Stringer, a Prescott Republican, resigned Wednesday afternoon as a deadline approached for him to turn over documents to the House Ethics Committee. The committee had been investigating two complaints against him, both of which included recent revelations by the Phoenix New Times that Stringer faced sex crime charges, including child pornograpy, in Maryland in 1983. One of the complaints also cited several racist comments by Stringer that became public last year.
The resignation officially ended the Ethics Committee’s investigation. But it will release documents, including interviews conducted by the committee, likely sometime in the next few days, according to Rep. T.J. Shope, who chairs the committee. Shope said he hopes to release those documents before the weekend, though it could be later.
“I intend to release all the documents we can,” said Shope, R-Coolidge.