Former lawmaker Steve May announced Sept. 13 he is terminating his campaign for the House in Legislative District 17.
May got on the November ballot after winning a spot in the primary as a write-in candidate. His presence as a Republican in the swing district that spans Tempe and Scottsdale posed a threat to two Democratic challengers, Rep. Ed Ableser and household name Ben Arredondo.
The openly gay former lawmaker who served two terms in the House from 1999-2003, gained recent headlines for his brazen acknowledgement that he helped four “street people” get on the ballot as Green Party candidates.
Democrats and the Arizona Green Party claim those candidates, along with several others, were “sham” Green Party members whose sole purpose were to take votes away from Democrats. The Green Party lost a federal lawsuit seeking to remove the candidates from the November ballot; another lawsuit in Maricopa County Superior Court is pending.
May also received a DUI conviction 2009, reported by the Arizona Capitol Times on Sept. 7. May was pulled over for speeding on Interstate 17 in Phoenix in May 2009 and his blood-alcohol content registered .206 and .202 in breath tests. A person is considered intoxicated at .08.
May issued a written statement Sept. 13 about the termination of his campaign. It doesn’t give specific reasons for withdrawing, but says his pursuit of public office as a write-in helped him come to the conclusion that he is personally not ready to hold office again.
“This unique experiment in democracy has also raised my own awareness, and helped me see clearly that personal and political timing must align for a campaign to truly be successful,” May wrote. “I spoke about the need for honest leadership, and I have determined the necessary personal alignment does not exist to continue the campaign.”
May originally told the Capitol Times that he has been honest about his DUI on the campaign trail and that he said it was something he had learned from.
Reached at a court hearing Sept. 13 involving the alleged sham Green Party candidates, May said he didn’t care to comment beyond his earlier press statement, but did say his decision to terminate his campaign had nothing to do with his DUI conviction.
District 17 has an almost equal split among Democrats, Republicans and independents. May’s name ID and money – he pledged to spend $100,000 of his own money in the general election campaign – made him a top contender.
Political insiders said he posed a threat to his Democratic rivals, mainly Ableser, because Arredondo has deep roots in the community, having spent nearly three decades combined on the Tempe City Council and Tempe Elementary School District governing board.
May’s departure certainly makes it easier for the Dems. Now they have to contend with the lesser-known Republican, Donald Hawker.
“I never feel confident in races. It’s not about sitting back and knowing I’ve got it in the bag,” Ableser said, responding to a question about whether he now feels more confident about his re-election chances.