Senate Majority Leader Chuck Gray has announced he will not seek re-election in 2010, saying he wants to focus on new business opportunities.
Gray, a Republican from Mesa, told the Arizona Capitol Times he plans to expand his Internet business. His company, which was founded in 1997, markets car accessories across the globe.
“A couple of business opportunities came up just a little before Thanksgiving and so I thought about it, and we prayed about it,” Gray said.
Gray said it was a difficult decision. He loves what he’s doing and the state has a lot of needs, he said.
“But at some point, you know, you recognize that you have to take advantage of a business opportunity when it becomes available,” he said.
In a statement released Nov. 30, Gray wrote that he might not be finished with politics altogether.
“You will see me in the future,” he noted.
There are a lot of opportunities coming up to go back into politics, he told the Capitol Times. One of them may be a potential run for Congress.
“We assume that we may be getting as many as two new, additional Congressional seats and so that’s a possibility there to run for Congress,” he said.
Gray joined the House in 2003 and was appointed to fill Marilyn Jarrett’s Senate seat in 2006 when she passed away.
Gray, who was appointed Senate majority leader before the 2009 session, is one of the most conservative members of the Legislature. In a special session earlier this month, he voted against a measure that would return some $18 million to the Arizona Science Foundation. The Legislature had taken the money from the foundation to help fill the state budget deficit.
“I don’t think that this is the time or the setting when we should be taking taxpayer money and giving it away to someone else when we can’t fund the programs that are more necessary and important, such as education,” Gray said days before the vote.
Prior to his selection as majority leader, Gray served as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, where he worked on a wide array of issues. The most notable issues he was involved with in recent years include payday lending, retail theft, DNA testing, concealed weapons and Clean Elections.
Two years ago, Gray introduced legislation to cap payday lenders’ interest rates and to end the industry in Arizona prior to its sunset date next year. Both issues likely will resurface during the 2010 legislative session when lawmakers will have to decide whether to continue the industry.
After Gray graduated from high school, he spent two years as a missionary in Spain. He is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and he speaks fluent Spanish. He returned to work in the family construction business as a brick, block and stone mason while attending Mesa Community College.
He later served as an officer with the Mesa Police Department for 10 years.