Matt Salmon announces his retirement from Congress: Let the political battle royal begin

By Craig McDermott, crossposted from Random Musings

On Thursday, Congressman Matt Salmon announced that he will not be seeking reelection to Congress in 2016.

This wasn’t a sudden move – senior Salmon staffers have been looking for, and finding, soft landing spots for  weeks now, and his announcement was followed quickly by an endorsement of Andy Biggs, president of the Arizona State Senate, to be his replacement.

While the Biggs endorsement was (presumably) an attempt to preempt a primary battle for the safe R seat, there are a number of Rs looking at the race, or at least being speculated about for the race.

From AZCentral.com, written by Rebekah L. Sanders –

The open seat left by retiring U.S. Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., is going to be tempting bait to a school of East Valley Republicans.

When a safely Republican district without an incumbent  came open in Arizona in 2010, that race attracted 10 GOP candidates.

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The first name on most insiders’ lips for Salmon’s seat is his former rival, Kirk Adams, who now serves as Gov. Doug Ducey’s right-hand man. Adams lost to Salmon in the 5th District primary in 2012 and formerly was leader of the Arizona House.

{snip}

Republicans who say they’ll have to think about entering the race include:

  • State Rep. Justin Olson, R-Mesa, who said he could scrap a bid for state House Speaker.
  • State Rep. Kelly Townsend, R-Mesa: “I am seriously considering it. … I’m going to really have to pray.”
  • Maricopa County Supervisor Steve Chucri: “Have I been getting calls? Yes. … I’ll have to look at it and talk to my family.”
  • Aviation businessman and former congressional candidate Travis Grantham: “I’m eyeing that very closely. And also the state House.”
  • Former GoDaddy executive Christine Jones, who ran for governor in 2014: Salmon’s retirement “was the talk of the town (at Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane’s state of the city luncheon) today. … I hadn’t had this on my radar at all.”
  • Mesa Councilman Alex Finter: “My phone’s been ringing off the hook. At this point I’m not ruling anything out.”

A number of others could run, but they didn’t respond to calls from The Arizona Republic. They include:

  • Former Mesa Mayor Scott Smith, a 2014 gubernatorial candidate
  • Maricopa County Supervisor Denny Barney
  • Outgoing Gilbert Mayor John Lewis
  • State Sen. Bob Worsley, R-Mesa
  • Former Senate President Russell Pearce

Other names being bandied about (some from Sanders’ Twitter feed, some from other Twitter feeds, some from people I’ve spoken to), and my quick takes on them:

Chandler Mayor Jay Tibshraeny – very conservative, but suffers from occasional bouts of sanity, which will disqualify him in any R primary

Former member of Congress Ben Quayle – Hey, he bought his way past low expectations in 2010, it could work again

Perennial candidate Vernon Parker – like Christine Jones, above, he hasn’t won anything yet, but he has enough connections, money, and ambition that his name will always be bandied about

Businessman Stephen Viramontes – because in the R worldview, “has money” = “qualified for public office”

Former candidate for governor Gary Tupper (2006) – every large field of candidates needs at least one “Who’s that?” candidate

Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema – nominally a Democrat but widely viewed as an aspiring R.  And has been known to at least consider district shopping

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio – because, you know, he throws his name into the discussion for every race

 

 

Note: as of this writing, the FEC’s website doesn’t show CD5 filings by any of the people listed above.

Note2: Travis Grantham, mentioned in the article above, has opened an exploratory committee for a run for the AZ House from LD12 (committee ID – 201600462).  With Biggs running for Congress, LD12 House member Warren Petersen will be running for Biggs’ Senate seat, opening up a House slot.

 

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