With two companies to run and an acceptance letter from Vanderbilt to pursue a degree in educational leadership, state Sen. Rich Crandall had decided it was time to leave the Legislature.
But now the Mesa Republican has changed his mind and will seek election again after all — once he and his family move to another East Valley legislative district.
Crandall resides in an area that was District 19. But after the boundaries were redrawn this year, he found himself in District 25 — where recalled state Sen. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, plans a comeback. So when Republican Bob Worsley, founder of SkyMall, announced that he would run against Pearce in the primary, Crandall threw his support behind Worsley.
The urging of fellow Republicans and backing of community and school leaders led to his change of plans, said Crandall, chairman of the Senate Education Committee.
But instead of entering the same race as Pearce and Worsley, he plans to move at least three miles east to District 16, which includes Mesa east of Power Road, Apache Junction, Gold Canyon and part of San Tan Valley.
“One hundred thousand of the 200,000 people there are my current constituents,” he said of District 16’s new boundaries. Plus, he said, it’s still in the area where his children attend Mesa schools.
Crandall’s exploratory committee was registered with the Arizona Secretary of State on April 9. Signatures needed to earn a spot on the ballot must be turned in by May 30.
“Originally, I looked at getting out because of my company, my doctorate, other things,” Crandall said. “Then I found a way to make it happen.”
The redrawing of legislative boundaries has prompted the shuffling of lawmakers. Pearce lost his Senate seat to Jerry Lewis in last fall’s recall election in what was District 18. But the new boundaries put Pearce in District 25, which would have set up a primary battle between him and Crandall.
Then Worsley announced his plans in District 25.
“There was a strong, conservative, pro-education, business-minded candidate (Worsley) to take on Russell Pearce in Legislative District 25, but not a candidate like that in Legislative District 16,” Crandall said. “Both the education and business community, as well as most elected officials for that area, said they would support me if I ran. It caused me to reevaluate my earlier decision.”
State Rep. John Fillmore, an Apache Junction business owner, announced his intention to run for state Senate in District 16 earlier this spring, and will likely be Crandall’s competitor in the primary.
Crandall said he will hire someone to run one of his companies and move his duties as chief financial officer for the other company to existing staff.
With those changes, “time isn’t an issue,” he said.
Crandall said education in Arizona is a “work in progress,” adding that is one of the reasons he wants to stay around at the Legislature.
“The biggest thing is just preparing for the new high standards in two years,” he said, referring to the Common Core Standards — a nationwide effort — that the state plans to follow. “We’ve got some great initiatives just started and I want to see those through.”
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