1/28/2014 1:17:00 PM Arizona Senate Majority Leader to step down
Senate Majority Leader John McComish. (Capitol Media Services file photo by Howard Fischer)
Howard Fischer Capitol Media Services
PHOENIX -- Saying he's had enough, the state Senate's No. 2 Republican is calling it quits.
John McComish, who represents the Ahwatukee section of Phoenix and parts of Tempe, Chandler and Mesa, said this year is a good opportunity to run for justice of the peace in the Kyrene precinct. He said that job will provide him with more regular hours than the 10 years he has spent in the Legislature.
But McComish also acknowledged he has been battered by the Tea Party elements of his own party, most recently for his decision to support Gov. Jan Brewer in her bid to expand the state's Medicaid program using funds from the Affordable Care Act. And he said that group has taken control of the party apparatus in Arizona, as evidenced by this weekend's condemnation by GOP precinct committee workers to condemn U.S. Sen. John McCain for not hewing to party principles.
"Some of the far-right activists, if you will, they're the ones who get out and work and they run for PC,' he said. "They're reaping those rewards.'
He also said they did it fairly. But McComish said that doesn't mean he has to agree with them on all their issues.
The result is that wing of the party is trying to oust him in the August primary: Followers have offered up Tom Morrissey, the former chairman of the Arizona Republican Party, as an alternative.
McComish told Capitol Media Services he believes he would easily win a primary fight. He said that despite the move to the right of some party workers, they do not reflect his constituents.
"I think the pragmatic Republicans, if that's a good term, are clearly in the majority in the district,' he said. "It's pretty clear that it's not a far-right district.'
McComish is backing current state Rep. Jeff Dial, R-Chandler, to replace him in the Senate. But Morrissey said he considers Dial, who also supported Medicaid expansion, of the same political stripe and intends to stay in the race.
"I think it's time we got somebody with a spine in there,' Morrissey said. And he said the problems with both of them go beyond that single Medicaid vote, though he would not provide specifics.
"When you lay down with dogs, you get up with fleas,' he said. "They spend a lot of time voting with and agreeing with Democrats.'
Morrissey also disagreed with McComish's contention that the legislative district is not as conservative as the challenger thinks.