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Lujan returns to Capitol as senator

David Lujan (Photo by Ryan J. Cook/RJ Cook Photography)

Former state lawmaker David Lujan is returning to the state Capitol to fill the seat left vacant by Kyrsten Sinema.

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors appointed Lujan, a former House minority leader, to the position in a meeting today.

The board picked Lujan despite a final plea by supporters of Ken Clark, who is also a former legislator and was one of three nominees to the position.

Clark’s supporters touted the work he has done for the district, as well as his advocacy for alternative energy.

But the fact that Lujan received the most votes from precinct committeepersons who earlier met as a panel to choose three nominees weighed heavily on the supervisors’ minds. The third nominee was Democratic Party officer Sharon Thomas.

In a brief speech, supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox called the nominees “outstanding.”

But she noted that Lujan came first in the nominating process. She added that the district needs somebody who knows the system and can hit the ground running.

“We need somebody who would protect the county and David talked to me and pledged to do so,” said Wilcox, who formally asked the board to appoint the former Democratic leader.

Supervisor Andy Kunasek seconded Wilcox’s motion.

After his appointment, Lujan said he believes his experience representing the district won the supervisors over.

Lujan said he won’t be seeking election to the Senate this year.

Clark said he was heartened to see the support he had from the district.

Lujan is expected to be sworn in this week.

Sinema resigned last week in order to run for the newly created 9th Congressional District.

She lives outside of the central Phoenix and Tempe-based district by a few blocks, but she plans to move after the U.S. Department of Justice gives its final approval the new congressional districts.

Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader David Schapira, D-Tempe, is also eyeing the Congressional seat.

Schapira formed an exploratory committee in November and said he will announce in a few weeks whether he’ll seek the CD9 seat.

Meanwhile, Arizona Democratic Party Chairman Andrei Cherny is also considering a run. Cherny said he will decide by the end of the month whether he’ll run for the seat.

Technically, CD9 already has an incumbent in U.S. Rep. Ben Quayle. But the GOP freshman may run instead in the 6th Congressional District – which begins just a few blocks from his house – and challenge fellow U.S. Rep. David Schweikert in the Republican primary.

Other Republicans are also considering running in CD9, including Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman and businessman Steve Moak, who lost to Quayle in the 2010 GOP primary. Businessman Travis Grantham, who is already running in the 5th Congressional District, said he is considering switching districts to run in CD9 as well.

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