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Garcia’s wife among 3 nominated to replace late senator

Maria Garcia, alongside her late husband Jorge. (Photo provided by family)

Maria Garcia, alongside her late husband Jorge. (Photo provided by family)

Maria Garcia, wife of the late Democratic leader Jorge Garcia, was among three Tucson residents who were nominated Oct. 26 to replace the senator.

The other nominees are Sami Hamed, an aide to Congressman Raul Grijalva, and Bob Gilby, a math teacher. Both Hamed and Gilby ran for the House in the last primary.

Under state law, the Pima County Board of Supervisors will appoint Garcia’s replacement to the Senate from among the nominees. A date has not yet been set.

Legislative District 27 chairman Jim Hannley said it’s very likely that Garcia will get the supervisors’ nod.

“There were a number of members who said that they intended to call the Board of Supervisors to ask that they select her, and it’s my intention to do so as well,” Hannley said.

Garcia’s term ends Jan. 10, when a new senator from his district is sworn in. The senator died on Oct. 15. He was diagnosed with a rare illness that affected his heart.

Maria Garcia said she believes she would be in the best position to advocate for ideas and policies her husband fought for at the Capitol.

“I know a lot of his ideals,” she said. “We’re very much similar in that way. I didn’t get involved in his politics, but we would always talk about everything.”

Under state law, precinct committeepersons from Garcia’s legislative district must nominate three names to the Pima County Board of Supervisors, who will then appoint a replacement from the nominees.

The district election is scheduled tonight, Oct. 25.

Garcia has the support of Rep. Olivia Cajero Bedford, who is running unopposed to the Senate this November.

“Out of respect to Senator Garcia, I feel that a family member should be the first choice and I am supporting Maria Garcia, his wife,” Cajero Bedford said.

Cajero Bedford said either she or someone else would nominate Garcia for election. If nominated, the representative said she would also lobby county supervisors to pick Garcia.

There is a slight chance Garcia, a manager at defense contractor Raytheon, could vote on state legislation if appointed to replace her husband.

Arizona remains deep in deficit and it could find itself deeper in the hole if the public rejected two proposals meant to provide additional revenues. If that happened, lawmakers may decide to try and fix the deficit before the year is over.

Meanwhile, Garcia and party-mate David Bradley won the Democratic nominations for Arizona Corporation Commission in the Aug. 24 primary election. Garcia’s name will still appear on the Nov. 2 ballot.

The Arizona Democratic Party isn’t pushing for a write-in candidate to take Garcia’s place for Corporation Commission, said party spokeswoman Jennifer Johnson.

There are practical considerations for not running a write-in candidate this late, Johnson said.

One is that early ballots have already been mailed; presumably, Garcia supporters have already voted for him.

Also, a late candidate would face the tremendous challenge of organizing and mounting a write-in campaign in a matter of days.

The law allows for a party’s executive committee to nominate a candidate to replace someone who has died before an election, but that process doesn’t apply if a candidate dies after ballots have been printed, such as in Garcia’s case.

Instead, party-mates may follow the procedures for write-in candidates as laid out by law. A candidate has to file the nomination paper no later than 5 p.m. on the fifth day before the election.

Since the Democratic Party is not running a write-in candidate, Garcia’s candidacy stays.

If Garcia wins a spot in the general election, the law says the governor must appoint a party-mate to replace him. That person will serve until the next election cycle in 2012, when an election will be held to elect someone to serve the rest of Garcia’s four-year term.

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