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Greg Stanton to Leave Phoenix City Council; Headed to AG's Office (w/update)

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This just in: Greg Stanton, a Phoenix city councilman for eight years, will be resigning his seat to work for the Arizona Attorney General's Office.

The news has generated significant buzz, not just because of the game of musical chairs it could trigger at City Hall. No, insiders believe Stanton is setting himself up to make a run for AG in 2010.

At that point, incumbent Terry Goddard will be term-limited out -- and the list of candidates vying for the post is sure to be huge. Republican Tom Horne, the state's superintendent of public instruction, has already declared his candidacy; Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas, also a Republican, has been floating trial balloons.

Stanton is one of the first Democrats we've heard jockeying for the position. Not that he's officially jockeying or anything -- the theory of why he's headed over to work for Goddard is still strictly speculation.

And, when we managed to catch up with Stanton around 5:30 p.m., he was quick to distance himself from the chatter. When we asked if he was plotting a run for AG, he replied, "Are you kidding? It's Politics 101 not to answer that question." 

Here's what we were able to draw out of him. Goddard approached him after his current director of legislation, policy, and strategic planning was appointed to a judgeship.

"I wasn't floating a resume around or anything like that," Stanton told us. "This was a unique situation. I'm a public service guy. I like serving on Council. But Terry Goddard is someone I truly respect. The opportunity to work at the highest levels of his agency is something I couldn't turn down." He also told us he's committed to serving for two years, which is when Goddard will be forced to move on.

And, hint hint, someone else has to get elected to the position. Not that we're going there, of course.

Based on what we know of him, we suspect Stanton could remind Democratic voters of Goddard, in ways both good and bad. For one, he's known as a super nice guy -- something you don't hear said, frankly, about either Horne or Thomas. Like Goddard, he's a Phoenix native who headed East for a fancypants education: in Stanton's case, he graduated from Marquette and then the University of Michigan Law School.

And, like Goddard at the time of his election to AG, he's spent little time actually lawyering, much less working as a prosecutor. Ah well ... can't have everything!

Stanton plans to resign his Council seat in early February, after this year's budget bloodbath gets resolved. (Gotta hand it to the guy -- he's sticking around to sign off some changes that are sure to be hated.) After that, City Clerk Mario Paniagua tells us, the remaining members of Council and Mayor Phil Gordon have just ten days to select Stanton's replacement.

And, lucky us, both the nominations and the selection will take place in an open meeting. Just when we thought we'd run out of things to write about ...

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