Sinema quits Legislature to run for Congress - East Valley Tribune: Arizona

Sinema quits Legislature to run for Congress

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Posted: Tuesday, January 3, 2012 3:55 pm | Updated: 4:30 pm, Tue Jan 3, 2012.

A veteran state lawmaker quit Tuesday to launch a bid for the state's new congressional district.

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Phoenix, acknowledged that in leaving the Legislature she was giving up the natural forum she has for publicity. Sinema is one of the most frequent speakers on legislation.

But Sinema said she had between 2 and 2 1/2 million reasons to quit now - the amount of money she figures she will need for a successful bid.

"If you're going to do something, do it right. Right?" she said.

"And if you're going to run for Congress I think you need to put your heart and soul into it and work hard and do it right," Sinema said. "And it's not really fair to your job in the Senate if you're spending most of your hours running for Congress."

Sinema said her decision to quit - and now - was not designed to undermine the possible candidacy of fellow state Sen. David Schapira, D-Tempe.

Schapira, who has formed an exploratory committee, said he has not yet made a decision on his political future. But he said that if he decides to run, he will not be quitting the Legislature.

"My constituents elected me to a two-year term to come and serve them," Schapira said.

"We're at kind of an important point as a state," he explained. "And I think at this point it's not the right time to bail out on what my constituents elected me to do."

Sinema's move sets in motion the process of Democratic precinct committeemen and women to screen applicants to fill her position. Their recommendations go to the Republican-controlled Maricopa County Board of Supervisors which has to choose from the list of three nominees.

Former State Rep. David Lujan, D-Phoenix, who is from the same district, already has made it known he would be interested in moving across the courtyard.

The new ninth district could become the best chance the Democrats have of increasing their numbers in the state's congressional delegation, with a nearly equal number of registered voters from the two main political parties. Currently, three of the eight seats are in Democratic hands.

One big unknown in the race is what one-term incumbent Republican Congressman Ben Quayle will do.

Quayle has found his home inside the new crescent-shaped district which includes portions of Phoenix, Tempe and Mesa. But Quayle could instead choose to run in what's left of his old district - with or without moving, as federal law does not require members of Congress to live in the district they represent.

That, however, could create a GOP primary with Congressman David Schweikert who inherited much of Quayle's old district.

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