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House Democrats eye leadership posts to be vacated next year

The Democratic caucus will face significant change as its top two leaders are both leaving the House after this term.

Minority Leader David Lujan is running for attorney general, while Assistant Leader Kyrsten Sinema is seeking her district’s Senate seat.

Sinema is one of 17 representatives affected either directly or indirectly by term limits.
Minority Whip Chad Campbell, of Phoenix, is the only Democrat so far to throw his hat in the ring for minority leader.

A pragmatist at heart, Campbell has not been shy about toeing the party line when necessary, especially as Republicans approved budgets without Democratic input. He is seen by many as a rising star among Democratic lawmakers.

“My plan right now is to run for leader, or whatever the top spot may be,” he said, noting he is hopeful Democrats will win enough seats in November to take control of the
60-member House. Currently, they have 25 seats and would need to capture six more.

If that happens, Campbell would be running for speaker. Flagstaff Democrat Tom Chabin said he would likely challenge Campbell if Democrats become the majority party. If they don’t, Chabin said he is still interested in a leadership position, but he wouldn’t run for minority leader.

If Chabin were to set his sights on assistant leader, that would set him up against Steve Farley, of Tucson, the only Democrat so far to be seeking that job.

Farley has an unofficial leadership post currently, and has been involved with the political and strategic decisions made in the past two years. He is extremely loyal to the party and to the caucus. Chabin is an equally fierce party loyalist, though his focus at the Legislature has been more on rural and Native American issues than on the political machinations of the party.

There are, however, a number of Democrats interested in being minority whip: Ed Ableser of Tempe and Matt Heinz of Tucson both said they are considering running for that position, and others say Tolleson’s Anna Tovar and Paradise Valley’s Eric Meyer are also thinking about entering the race.
Ableser, in his second term in the House, has more legislative experience than the others, though he is often seen as a bit of an eccentric within the caucus. Heinz has shown an ability to work with Republicans to move legislation through the process.

Tovar, a former Tolleson City Council member, is regarded as having strong leadership ability. Meyer is thoughtful and deliberate, though he faces a tough re-election to his legislative seat, as he comes from a district with an overwhelming Republican voter registration advantage.

Read more: Adams likely to face challenge from Jim Weiers for House speaker

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