Nov 14, 2022 - Politics

Arizona Republican lawmakers pick likely Senate president

Illustration of the Arizona State Capitol with lines radiating from it.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Senate Republicans on Thursday chose Sen. Warren Petersen to lead their caucus, making him the likely Senate president for the next two years.

  • Petersen defeated Sen. David Gowan.

Why it matters: The Senate president and House speaker have immense control over what happens in their legislative chambers.

  • Chamber leaders assign powerful committee chairmanships, determine which committees each bill goes to, and determine if and when legislation comes up for a full vote.

Between the lines: Petersen, a Gilbert Republican who's part of the Senate GOP's more conservative faction, played a significant role in the Senate's self-styled audit of the 2020 election last year and his leadership bid was backed and aided by conservative activists.

  • Sen. Wendy Rogers, a vocal election denier who has advocated to decertify the 2020 presidential election and sponsored legislation to end most early voting and ban machine counting of ballots, announced on social media on Friday that Petersen had appointed her to chair the Senate Elections Committee.

The intrigue: Three Republican Senate candidates who were trailing in their races were permitted to vote, which is a departure from the way leadership contests are usually conducted.

  • The GOP senators spent nearly two hours debating during the vote at the Irish Cultural Center and McClelland Library in Phoenix.
  • Sen. Nancy Barto and candidates Robert Scantlebury and Gary Snyder are all still trailing in their races.

Yes, but: Sen. J.D. Mesnard, a Chandler Republican, told reporters that he considers it unlikely that there will be a revote.

Of note: Republicans are on pace to win 16 of the 30 Senate seats. If they don't win the majority, it's unlikely that Petersen will go on to lead the chamber next year.

Meanwhile: House Republicans delayed their leadership vote until Tuesday, so they could see how several races shaped up before deciding who will lead their caucus.

  • Reps. Joseph Chaplik, of Scottsdale, and Ben Toma, of Peoria, are vying for House speaker.
  • Chaplik is supported by many of the same people who backed Petersen in the Senate president contest.
  • The GOP currently leads in 31 of 60 House races, though it's still possible that there could be a 30-30 split.

The other side: Senate Democrats on Thursday chose Sen. Raquel Terán as their new caucus leader, while the House Democrats chose Rep. Andrés Cano as their next leader.


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