GOP Leadership Races Loom Large In 2010 Primaries

While GOP legislative leadership positions will not be elected until November, several primaries are already over as candidates are running unopposed in many districts, so campaigning has already begun for leadership positions in the 50th Legislature.  Here is a quick look at ongoing and potential matchups.


The main theme here is turnover.  Due to resignations and term limits, 10 of the original 18 Republican Senators are not returning to the body.

PRESIDENT – Sen. Russell Pearce will be running, as will Sen. Steve Pierce.  Also sounding out legislators about support is current Rep. Steve Yarbrough who is running for the Senate.  It is unlikely that Yarbrough will win, after all he will be a freshman in the Senate and moving directly into the office of the President would be most unusual.  Former House Speaker Jim Weiers attempted that move and failed, and he failed while he was the powerful Speaker of the House.  Additionally, would the entire Senate want to be stuck behind a President with eight years of service left?  It would tell the entire body that they will never be President.  That means its Pearce versus Pierce, and while the initial advantage goes to Pearce, several right versus left primaries will need to be resolved before either can claim victory.

MAJORITY LEADER/MAJORITY WHIP – These two fields have yet to solidify, but Capitol observers expect to see Senators Frank Antenori, Al Melvin, and possibly Sylvia Allen to run for one position or the other.  Allen has a tough primary in front of her with Rep. Bill Konopnicki, but could be in a very strong position if she prevails.  Antenori would be an energetic leader while Melvin is able to work well with caucus members across the ideological spectrum, an important characteristic that pretty much rules out Senator Ron Gould (we’re kidding here, mostly, as Gould as not actually been mentioned for any leadership race.)



14 of the original 35 Republican House members will not be returning, yet at least one of the races will feature familiar faces.

SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE – A rematch of the 2008 race between former Speaker Jim Weiers and current Speaker Kirk Adams is on tap.  The 2008 race was close, and the outcome of this race will likely be determined on August 24th when the primaries are settled.

MAJORITY LEADER – Right now, its Rep. Andy Tobin’s job to lose, although Rep. Laurin Hendrix could be a real challenge if he is re-elected out of a crowded primary field that also includes former State Rep. Eddie Farnsworth.

MAJORITY WHIP – Representatives Russ Jones, Debbie Lesko, and Steve Montenegro are the three names being bandied about most at this time.  Each would bring an element of diversity to the leadership team, and none can really claim a lead at this time.  Each has a general election contest (Lesko also faces a primary) that they would be small favorites to win, so if you have to bet, put your money on Montenegro.  He has benefited from a large amount of national media exposure resulting from his transparency bill, the ban on race-based preferences (co-authored with Sen. Pearce) that will be on November’s ballot, and SB1070.  So he is a proven commodity in terms of dealing with the media and he can do so in English and Spanish, no small thing in a state like Arizona.


  1. DrBombay says

    Your first assumption is that Pearce wins, which is not assured. He is just as likely to get his handed to him by that Garcia chick. Then all bets are off.

  2. This is a very useful overview. Thanks.

  3. Westward Ho says

    So I checked and the “Garcia chick” that DrBombay is referring to is the Libertarian candidate in the race. So if we’re waiting around for a Libertarian to win a general election, I’m guessing there is no reason to wait. Pearce wins.

    And I’m in agreement with Wanumba on comment #2. Nice to have a post that isn’t a press release or the usual intra-party bloodletting.

  4. sceptical Observer says

    Forget about Weiers. Adams has a PAC somewhere to support candidates that are supporting him. Weiers’ main hooker lobbyist (Mike Williams) has no customers or money since his name showed up as a customer list for a hooker organization: Desert Divas.

  5. Nice post?? With as much accuracy as an article in the Republic. I have personal knowledge directly from some of the people mentioned that the projections of who is even interested in the House is nothing but pure uneducated and unfounded conjecture of the author.

    Thanks, but no thanks on this post.

  6. I think that Ben is on target here. The only race that is dead on is the Pearce – Pierce – Yarbrough one for Senate Pres. That one is so well known that it doesn’t take an insider to be aware of it.

  7. Westward Ho says

    I’m not sure what Ben or John know, or think they know, but I didn’t realize anyone didn’t know that a rematch for Speaker was on tap.

  8. Jane 001 says

    Great wake up call. I didn’t realize how many current State senators were leaving. This senate body did a great job this term.

    I hope Arizona voters are wise and focus on local elections going forward. The people in D.C. come from THESE state and local bodies. Barack Obama is case in point. Take pains to know who’s running, from the lowest local positions to the highest. We are responsible to watch over and run our government. We don’t have the luxury to kick back and let the “officials” handle everything.

  9. Arizona Insider says

    Someone has attempted to leave inflammatory comments on two occasions on this post. Now far be it from this blog to draw the line at inflammatory, but leaving those comments while posing as other real life people implies a level of dishonesty that disqualifies the comment. If you wish to inflame, at least have the decency to do so posing as an entirely fictional character like the rest of the people in our comments section?

  10. Insider,
    I guess you missed my “Senate President Campaign Kickoff”

  11. P.S.
    If my memory serves me, you were one of the “Get Gould to vote for the tax hike because it won’t pass antway and we will get a tax cut out of it” chorus. How’s that working for ya.

  12. Westward Ho says

    I’m never sure if the people who post as real people on here are actually those people, but just in case that really is Sen. Ron Gould, looks like we got the tax hike anyway and didn’t get any tax cuts, plus our property taxes went up as well. So thanks alot pal for keeping us from getting the tax cuts our economy and pocket books needed.

    And frankly, without the extra year of teacher’s notes to terrify parents, I’m not sure it would have passed if you hadn’t given them an extra year to get their campaign rolling. So again, thanks for the higher property taxes and lack of income tax cuts. Looks like your gamble really worked out for us.

  13. Moon Valley GOP says

    Its not all Ron’s fault, although his Yes vote could have given us the tax cuts and kept property taxes down, true enough. Gorman and Allen were also No votes and while Allen would always be a No vote, Gorman bailed on the fight to run for Congress, leaving the higher-taxing David Braswell in her place. Not exactly a real pickup for Arizona taxpayers.

  14. At least Gorman does not try to defend her vote with snide remarks that fail to take into account the overall picture. Gould and Gorman prevented the citizens of this state from receiving over a billion dollars a year in permanent tax relief. Between these two narcissistic preeners and the absolute ignorance and self-serving of the ninth floor under Cheesy Chuckie’s direction, we lost a once in a lifetime opportunity to reverse course in this state.

    Thanks to the three stooges!

  15. You were not going to get any tax cuts. It was only a promise from people that aren’t very good at keeping a promise. Under the “Deal” only the tax hike was going to the ballot to be “voter Protected” and could not be changed by the Legislature. The tax cuts would not go to the ballot and would NOT be voter protected, and then they could be repealed by a majority vote of the Legislature.
    With the State’s budget STILL $1.5 Billion out of balance, even after the passage of Prop 100; do you really think any tax cut would stand?
    The return of the State Equalization Tax rests squarely on Governor Brewer’s shoulders. The Senate and House passed out a permanent repeal of the tax, Brewer threatened to veto it if she didn’t get her tax hike. When the tax hike failed because I wouldn’t vote for it, she carried out her threat and vetoed the tax repeal.
    When a terrorist carries out his threat because the hostage negotiator would not give in to the terrorist’s demands, who do you blame?
    p.s. I always post under my name, because I stand behind my words.

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