Feathered Bastard

Kyrsten Sinema's David Lujan, Can Ken Clark Stop Him?

The effort to block former state House Minority Leader David Lujan from sliding into ex-state Senator Kyrsten Sinema's still-warm legislative seat is firing up, with former state House Representative Ken Clark adding his name to the list of wannabes.

Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox says she's received calls of interest from Lujan and Clark, as well as from ex-APS rep George Diaz, whom I mentioned in a previous post, and local community organizer Raquel Teran. (Please see update below.)

This morning, Wilcox addressed the chatter out there that this is a done deal and that she's already favoring Lujan for the position.

"I want to give the PCs a chance to recommend people," she told me. "I am not committed [to anyone]."

As the lone Democrat on the Board of Supervisors, it's expected that she will be in the catbird seat when it comes time to pick from the three candidates the Democratic precinct committee people of Legislative District 15 must nominate.

Asked about the stop-Lujan movement afoot in Latino and Democratic circles, she admitted she would have to consider the baggage Lujan comes with if he's nominated.

"I know there are some issues because of [Senate Bill] 1070," she explained of Lujan's notorious dereliction of duty in skipping the crucial House vote on the breathing-while-brown statute. "If I were to seriously consider him, I'd look at that."

Both Wilcox and Sinema, who just announced her campaign for Congress, tell me that the PCs of LD 15 will meet this Sunday to discuss the matter.

Sinema is one of the PCs empowered to choose three candidates, and she's already endorsed Lujan. There are 22 other PCs in LD 15 making up the "committee" appointed by the BOS to find three nominees.

Depending on how quickly the PCs pony up three prospective legislators, the LD 15 appointment could be on the supervisors' agenda as early as Wednesday.

Clark, a Phoenix realtor, has served LD 15 previously as a House member. He boasts a resume that includes being a co-founder of the bipartisan Arizona Competitive Districts Coalition, and a passionate campaigner against deep-pocket payday loan vendors.

As far as Lujan goes, he says he doesn't see Lujan as an inevitable replacement for Sinema.

"I reject the premise that [Lujan] is favored by the political establishment," he told me today. "I don't know what deals have been cut, but that doesn't mean anything when it comes to the precinct committee people."

He continued, "They have their own voices, and [Lujan] needed to ask them what they wanted. I don't think he's done that yet. I've been talking to the PCs for a long time. They know I've always been there."

Though he claims Lujan as a friend, he is critical of Lujan's going AWOL on 1070, when Democrats most needed him.

"The problem that he's having with 1070 is that he made a [move] of political convenience," said Clark. "I love David. He's a great guy. But I think he made a mistake there."

For his part, Clark said he was opposed to 1070, and that he would not have made the same mistake.

"I'm willing to take the uncomfortable stand for what is right," he averred. "I definitely would not have walked on that vote."

Note: Teran told me late today that she's still "exploring the possibility" of joining the fray, and will make a decision by tomorrow.

UPDATE 1/7/12: Diaz called me this morning to tell me he's withdrawing his name from consideration. He says he wants to concentrate on running for that seat eventually, and on running others' legislative campaigns.

UPDATE 1/8/12: Raquel Teran has submitted her letter of intent and resume for the vacant seat in LD 15. The PCs of LD 15 choose three nominees today.

FURTHER UPDATE 1/8/12: I've been out of town, but Steve Muratore over at Arizona Eagletarian has the scoop. The three candidates chosen by LD 15 PCs are: Ken Clark, David Lujan, and Sharon Thomas. 

Now on to the Board of Supervisors.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons