Arizona Republicans short on time to replace Shooter in Legislature

PHOENIX – With the Legislature already in session, Republican leaders have about a week to put forth candidates to fill the vacancy left by the expulsion Thursday of Rep. Don Shooter, R-Yuma, for sexual misconduct.

The Arizona House voted 56-3 to expel Shooter from the Arizona House of Representatives after an investigation found Shooter had “created a hostile working environment for his colleagues and those with business before the Legislature.”

Jonathan Lines, chairman of the Arizona Republican Party, must meet with GOP precinct committeemen in Yuma County before Feb. 10, said Matt Roberts, director of communications for the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office.

“They have (eight) days then to organize that meeting and come up with three people that will fill that particular vacancy,” Roberts said. “And then the Yuma Board of Supervisors … will then choose the one person to then fill the vacancy in the state Legislature.”

Although the selection is not a formal election, meaning the Legislative District 13 seat is guaranteed to stay Republican, GOP leaders usually have more time to make their selections.

“Typically, the replacement process is a lot longer,” Roberts said. “It’s usually about three weeks to a month. However, when the Legislature is in session, obviously (it’s) a lot more condensed because you want representation in the Legislature.”

While not a requirement, the state Legislature tries to keep the legislative session to 100 calendar days, meaning new laws will likely need to be passed sometime before April 17.

Because of the short time frame, the three Republicans who are selected by the precinct committeemen likely will be among the candidates who had hoped to replace Shooter in the November general election, Roberts said.

The person chosen for the position will not remain in the seat for a full term, because he or she will be installed without an election. That person will have to campaign to keep the seat in November, when Shooter was up for re-election.

“It’s a short vacancy to fill, it’s not very long,” Roberts said. “However, it is a year, and we are just beginning the legislative session, so this person is going to have quite an impact on the legislative process.”

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