Arizona State Representative Diego Espinoza (D-Tolleson) announced last week that he would resign from the Arizona House, despite winning the August primary election for a seat in the Senate, leaving no one on the ballot.
“Today, I announced my resignation to my seat in the Arizona House effective Monday, September 5th 2022. I will also forgo my primary election win for a seat in the State Senate,” Espinoza said while announcing his resignation. “As a lawmaker, I was able to reach challenging milestones for our community and overcame many obstacles to achieve a better tomorrow for our people in Arizona.”
He further shared that he is resigning to accept a position on the Salt River Project’s Government and Community Relations team. Before leaving, Espinoza served four terms in the House and 14 years on the Tolleson City Council.
READ @espinozadiego19 resignation letter today to House Speaker Rusty Bowers, 31 days after Espinoza defeated fellow House member Richard Andrade in #LD22 Senate primary. pic.twitter.com/qAi5zgdjVh
— Brahm Resnik (@brahmresnik) September 2, 2022
This news came after Espinoza beat fellow House member, State Representative Richard Andrade (D-Glendale) for District 22’s Senate seat. The district is heavily Democratic and covers parts of Phoenix, Glendale, Avondale, and Tolleson.
U.S. News reported that Andrade heard that Espinoza was considering taking the job during the primary election and is “very disappointed” to learn of his quitting.
“He wasn’t true to the voters, knowing that he was going to do this,” Andrade said. “It shows this isn’t the type of leadership we need, where you deceived the voters into thinking you’re working for your community when in reality you’re working for your self-interest.”
Andrade has not revealed any plans for a write-in campaign.
Moreover, even though this legislative session has ended, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors (MCBS) will name a temporary replacement to serve the remainder of Espinoza’s term, which ends in early January.
Maricopa County Communications Director, Fields Moseley, spoke with The Arizona Sun Times via email to explain how this process will work. Under Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) 41-1202, because District 22 has fewer than 30 precinct committeemen, the MCBS has seven business days from notification of the absence to appoint a citizens panel. The panel has 21 days to present three qualified electors to fill the vacancy. To qualify, the individual must meet the requirements to serve in the legislature, belong to the same political party as the resigned member, and come from the same district and county. The board will then vote, and the majority recipient will be temporarily appointed. District 22 falls within Supervisor Steve Gallardo’s district, so he will lead the way in forming the panel early next week.
In 2021, the MCBS had to resolve a similar issue in District 30 and will follow the same process for Espinoza’s absence.
This replacement could be important if a special session is called before the end of the year.
Furthermore, because Espinoza was running unopposed for the Senate seat, and due to the suddenness of his withdrawal, a write-in candidate is the only option for filling the seat.
Azcentral reported that if several Democrats throw their hat in the ring, it is possible for a single Republican to enter the race and claim the most votes. House Democrats are allegedly coordinating a strategy for the write-in process so it does not become a “free-for-all.”
Write-in candidates must fill out official documentation located in Arizona’s Candidate Portal. The cutoff date for candidates to get on the November general election ballot is September 29.
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Neil Jones is a reporter for The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Neil on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].