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Lujan sworn in as newest state Senator

Incoming Sen. David Lujan receives the oath of office from Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Rebecca White Berch on Jan. 12. Lujan previously served as a member of the Arizona House of Representatives from 2005 - 2010. (Photo by Evan Wyloge/Arizona Capitol Times)

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

Lujan was sworn in as the Senate’s newest member in a brief ceremony today, one day after the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors appointed the former House minority leader to the position.

He may only be serving in this session, but he will have his plate full.

The Democrat has been assigned to four standing committees — Appropriations, Government Reform, Judiciary and Rules. He was additionally appointed to the Joint Legislative Audit Committee.

The board picked Lujan on Jan. 11 despite a final plea by supporters of Ken Clark, who is also a former legislator and one of three nominees to the position, to send him to the Senate.

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 other 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.

Gracious in defeat, Clark said he’s heartened to see the good support he had from the district.

Lujan was 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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