Rep. Debbie Lesko was elected House majority whip, beating Rep. David Stevens in the House Republicans’ only contested leadership race.
House Speaker Kirk Adams was uncontested in his bid for a second term in charge of the House. Rep. Andy Tobin, who served as majority whip last session, was uncontested in the race for majority leader.
Lesko, a Glendale Republican, got into the race early, which she said helped her build enough support to fend off Stevens.
“Once I decided to run for it, I started asking people for their support quite some time ago,” she said. “There’s a lot of good people out there and they gave me their support, and I thought I had a good chance of winning.”
Stevens said he waited too long to get into the race, while Lesko started running before the legislative session ended in May. The Sierra Vista Republican said he waited until after the Aug. 24 due to concerns about his re-election in the Democratic-leaning Legislative District 25. He said he also may have hampered by the absence of Rep. Doris Goodale and incoming Rep. David Smith, whose support he said he had expected.
“My approach to the whip race was unorthodox and apparently not very effective. So I will change that for the next election,” Stevens said.
Adams, Tobin and Lesko will preside over a caucus with a veto-proof majority. Republicans have 40 seats in the House, and are hopeful that Eric West will overcome Democratic Rep. Eric Meyer in the undecided District 11 House race.
Adams said he looked forward to working with the Governor’s Office to fix the budget deficit, which grew by several hundred million dollars due to the failure of two ballot propositions on Nov. 2.
“Forty is a significant number, and particularly if you look at where Republicans won and the margins that they won. There was a very strong message being sent by voters as to what they want the state to do, vis-à-vis the budget especially. They want us to reduce the size and scope of government to the capacity to which it can afford itself,” Adams said. “We’re not quite there yet. We’ve gotten closer but we’ve got further to go.”
House Democrats have yet to elect their leaders for the 50th Legislature.