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Scottsdale businessman to challenge Kavanagh in primary

Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, smiles as he addresses the legislature in the Arizona House of Representatives at the Arizona Capitol Monday, Jan. 13, 2014, in Phoenix. The Republican lawmaker wants the state constitution amended to allow cuts to public employee pensions and increases in employee contributions if the systems are badly underfunded. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, smiles as he addresses the legislature in the Arizona House of Representatives at the Arizona Capitol Monday, Jan. 13, 2014, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

A Scottsdale businessman is challenging Rep. John Kavanagh for the Republican nomination for their district’s open Senate seat.

Jeff Schwartz, a real estate consultant, filed paperwork on Friday to run for the GOP nomination in the Scottsdale-based Legislative District 23. In a press statement, Schwartz said he is running because it’s important to have leadership that is focused on the “actual needs of the state,” and that lawmakers must do more than “fight enemies that don’t exist.”

Schwartz opened his campaign by criticizing the passage of SB1062, a recently vetoed bill that critics dubbed as anti-gay and put Arizona under the national spotlight.

“The fact that this Legislature, with all the issues facing this state, would choose to have SB1062 as their first piece of passed legislation says volumes about the priorities of those currently in office,” he said in the press statement.

Jeff Schwartz, a Scottsdale-based real estate consultant

Jeff Schwartz, a Scottsdale-based real estate consultant

Schwartz told the Arizona Capitol Times that he planned to contrast his style with Kavanagh’s. He said neither the Legislature nor Kavanagh is focusing on the needs of the state, though he wouldn’t say which of Kavanagh’s priorities or bills he was referring to, and said he would focus on education, the economy and public safety.

“He hasn’t focused on those things that are going to help move our state forward,” Schwartz said. “We need big-picture thinkers that aren’t going to be trying to wrap more government and more rules around individuals, our constituents of our district and of our state.”

Schwartz, who owns several companies, said he plans to put some of his own money into his campaign.

“I will invest in my campaign as others will be investing in my campaign,” he said.

Upon learning that he had a primary challenger, Kavanagh responded, “That’s democracy.”

In response to Schwartz’s comments about SB1062, Kavanagh said, “I guess we’ll be debating that, among other issues.”

LD23 is predominantly GOP, and registered Republicans outnumber registered Democrats by more than two-to-one. Democrat Paul Pennypacker is also running for the district’s Senate seat.

The seat is currently held by Sen. Michele Reagan, who is running for secretary of state.

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