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Biggs to challenge Pierce for Senate’s top post

Sen. Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert

Sen. Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert. (Photo by Ryan Cook/RJ Cook Photography)

Senate Majority Leader Andy Biggs confirmed yesterday he will challenge Senate President Steve Pierce’s hold on leadership when Republicans convene after the elections next month.

“I think that, you know, it’s going to be a close race obviously. But I think that I can do it,” Biggs told the Arizona Capitol Times.

This is the first time that Biggs, a fiscally conservative Republican from Gilbert, has publicly acknowledged his decision to run for the Senate’s top post, although his allies have previously discussed his plans.

Biggs won’t say how many votes he has secured so far, but he said he feels good about the race.

He also addressed fears he would use the power of the presidency to block bills he doesn’t like.

Biggs said he’ll continue the practice of allowing bills backed by a majority of his caucus to get to the floor for a vote.

Reached on the phone, Pierce seemed puzzled why Biggs wants his job, saying the Republican leadership team accomplished a lot with him at the helm.

“I don’t know what we didn’t accomplish that Andy wanted to get accomplished in the last session,” Pierce said. “What didn’t happen that he wanted to happen — I have never been told.”

Pierce also said Biggs hasn’t told him he would run against him.

Regardless of the race’s outcome, he’ll serve the state, Pierce said.

Pierce, a rancher from Prescott, is regarded as the favorite to keep his position.

So far, more incumbent senators, such as Sen. John McComish, R-Phoenix, and Sen. Michele Reagan, R-Scottsdale, have declared their support for his reelection.

But the race’s outcome largely hinges on the results of the general election, where Republican candidates who both either Pierce or Biggs face difficult races.

Any winner of those contested elections could tip the balance in either Biggs’s or Pierce’s favor.

In an obvious swipe at Pierce, Biggs also said he won’t raise campaign funds and then use it to take sides in a Republican primary.

“That’s really important because I don’t know how you can keep the trust of the body if you do that type of thing,” Biggs said, calling it “wrong-headed.”

Biggs is referring to the Republican Victory Fund’s decision to go after Rep. John Fillmore, R-Apache Junction, in his primary race against Sen. Rich Crandall, R-Mesa.

While Pierce raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the independent expenditure group, he has always said he has no say in how the campaign spends its money.

Biggs doesn’t buy that explanation. “It’s hard for me to believe that there was no coordination,” he said, pointing out that Camilla Strongin, who chairs the Republican Victory Fund, is also Pierce’s campaign consultant.

Pierce flatly rejected Biggs’ assertion.

“I don’t have any control over where they’re spending (the) money,” he said.

Pierce added that the independent group spent money to support an “already seated senator” in Crandall.

“But I had no idea that was going to happen and I don’t know where they’re spending the money, and I have nothing except what I read in the Yellow Sheet, and he knows that,” Pierce said.

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