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Konopnicki to challenge Allen for Senate seat

The Republican primary election in a rural Arizona district is shaping up to be an exciting one, as a term-limited member of the House has announced he will challenge the district’s incumbent Republican senator.

Rep. Bill Konopnicki, a Safford Republican, announced today he would challenge Sen. Sylvia Allen for the District 5 Senate seat. Allen, who lives in Snowflake, was appointed to the Senate in 2008 after Jake Flake died. She is serving her first full term in office.

Konopnicki said voters want leaders who will rise above partisanship, regardless of the political risk. That is especially important for his rural district, he said, because lawmakers tend to focus their attention on urban centers like Phoenix and Tucson.

“We need new leadership and new direction, with a special focus on jobs and unemployment in rural Arizona. I can no longer allow misguided ideological decision making to override common sense,” he said in a prepared statement.

In recent years, conservative Republicans have often criticized Konopnicki for breaking from the party line, especially on the budget. He was a key figure in a 2004 revolt in the House that saw 16 Republicans turn on leaders and back a budget that was supported by the Democrats.

Konopnicki currently serves as chairman of the House Natural Resources and Rural Affairs Committee.

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