After more than three hours of discussion, debate and voting, three potential replacements for former House Speaker Kirk Adams were chosen.
Precinct committeemen in Legislative District 19 nominated Charles “Charlie” Brown, Barbara Parker and Justin Pierce to fill the legislative vacancy created when Adams resigned in late April to seek a congressional seat.
The final replacement will be selected by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, though it is not yet known when that panel will make its selection. Because the Legislature is not in session, state law does not require the supervisors to act in a specific time frame.
In all, 11 candidates vied for the chance to win an appointment to the House of Representatives. The others were: Ron Bailly, David Farnsworth, Rex Griswold, Dave Johnson, Paul Petersen, Linda Stapley-Williams, Jaquetta Wick and Tom Wilkinson.
Pierce, the son of Corporation Commissioner Gary Pierce – who himself held an LD19 House seat for six years – won the support of precinct committeemen during the first round of voting. Griswold, who received the least number of votes, was eliminated.
Pierce told the crowd he aims to help keep state government spending under control if he is appointed to the Legislature.
“We have a lot of tough decisions we need to make, but they’re very important decisions,” he said.
In the second round of voting, a majority of the committeemen voted for Parker, while Wilkinson was eliminated.
Parker emphasized that her top priority was to balance the budget, particularly by eliminating waste and mismanagement in the state’s public health care and education systems.
“Those are the two huge parts of our budget, but no one wants to cut them,” she said, adding that it would be better to make them more efficient rather than just making cuts.
After the third round of voting, there were only two candidates remaining: Johnson and Brown, who had received the most votes of the seven candidates, but fell short of winning the support needed to make the final list. Wick, who had not received any votes, was eliminated; Bailly, Farnsworth, Petersen and Stapley-Williams withdrew from the race.
Brown was chosen as the final candidate on the fourth round of voting.
He said he didn’t really have any “grandiose plan” if he ends up in the Legislature.
“I’m not an abrasive guy, and I want to make friends – Democrat or Republican,” he said. “There’s a lot of teaching we can do for each other.”
The voting went surprisingly smoothly, said Arizona Republican Party Executive Director Brett Mecum, considering the 11 candidates was more than he had seen in any other replacement races.
“We were prepared for the worst. We were prepared to go eight rounds,” Mecum said. The fact that candidates quickly got majorities was a testament to their ability to campaign, he added.