Arizona Senate President Pro Tempore Eddie Farnsworth, the influential Republican leader who’s held an iron grip over criminal justice legislation for the better part of two decades, will not seek re-election.
Farnsworth announced at a Thursday night meeting of Legislative District 12 Republicans that he plans to retire, House Majority Leader Warren Petersen said. Petersen plans to run for Senate, while Queen Creek Town Council member Jake Hoffman will seek Petersen’s spot in the House.
Petersen, a former state senator who swapped seats with Farnsworth last year when Farnsworth hit term limits in the House, said Farnsworth told him he wouldn’t run for re-election weeks ago.
“I would not have run in a primary against him,” Petersen said. “Farnsworth is one of the best legislators we have ever had.”
Farnsworth was first elected to the House in 2000 and served for eight years, including a stint as majority leader from 2003 to 2004. He tried to switch to the Senate after hitting his term limits in 2008 but lost the GOP primary.
A bid to return to the House in 2010 was successful, and Farnsworth spent another eight years there before switching to the Senate in the last election. During his 17 years in office, he built a reputation as a conservative firebrand with a penchant for killing bills he deems “bad.”
Hoffman, who resigned his post as the chairman of the LD12 GOP when he filed his nominating paperwork for a state House campaign, told attendees at last night’s meeting that he chose to run to keep LD12 in Republican hands. In audio shared with The Arizona Capitol Times, Hoffman described the slim margin in the House, which has a 31-29 Republican majority, and the Senate, where Republicans have a 17-13 majority.
“We have Democrats in this state who are trying to legalize post-birth murder,” Hoffman said. “We have Democrats in this state who want to sexualize education for kids, who want to control the information that your kids hear. We have Democrats in this state, with Red for Ed, who are pitting families and neighbors against each other. 2020 is the fight of our lives.”
Hoffman is the president of conservative consulting firm Rally Forge and a contributor to the conservative news site Townhall. He’s served on the Queen Creek Town Council since 2017 and was a board member of the Higley Unified School District from 2013 to 2015.
In 2016, Hoffman founded a political action committee, RallyPAC, that collected $350,000 from a single Texas banker, funnelled the sum through Rally Forge and spent most of it on web ads supporting Donald Trump and attacking Hillary Clinton. A PAC supporting Arizona GOP Chairwoman Kelli Ward’s unsuccessful 2016 Senate campaign paid Rally Forge $120,000, and the company’s also done work for conservative nonprofit Turning Point USA.
Neither Hoffman nor Farnsworth responded to calls or text messages. Petersen said he and seatmate Travis Grantham, currently deployed in Afghanistan, are considering running on a slate with Hoffman.
“Jake is a solid conservative and would make a great legislator,” he said. “We are discussing running as a team and plan to decide soon.”
Hank Stephenson contributed to this report.
Correction: A previous version of this erroneously stated Warren Petersen left the Senate and ran for the House when he hit term limits. Petersen did not hit his term limit in the Senate.