State Sen. Steve Smith of Maricopa has announced he will run for the state House of Representatives in the newly formed Legislative District 11.
Smith, who kicked off his re-election campaign for the Senate in September, said Monday in a released statement he pulled out of the Senate race because he would have to face fellow conservative Republican Sen. Al Melvin in a primary. Melvin lives in SaddleBrooke near Tucson and currently represents Legislative District 26.
“This was one of the most difficult decisions I have had to make in my political career thus far, but after much prayer and discussion with my family, as well as with GOP leaders, I decided that my running for the House was in the best interest of my constituents, the Republican Party and the state of Arizona,” said Smith, who currently represents District 23.
Now that Melvin is senior senator in the new Legislative District 11, Smith said it is his responsibility to do whatever it takes to keep both of their conservative voices at the Capitol.
“I pledge to help lead the conservative charge there as I did in the Senate,” Smith said in a press release.
Melvin praised Smith’s decision. “Steve is a strong friend and ally in the Senate and I thank him and am grateful for his selfless decision,” he said.
Smith, the director of a talent agency in Phoenix, said he may run for the Senate in the future.
Smith said the primary with Melvin was “conceived by the liberal IRC (Independent Redistricting Commission)” and was not an option for him.
After each census, legislative districts in Arizona are redrawn from scratch by the redistricting commission, which includes two Republicans, two Democrats and an independent chairman.
Stuart Robinson, public information officer with the redistricting commission, said the commissioners “are prohibited by the state Constitution in considering where incumbents and challengers live when drawing the map.”
Robinson said with Republicans having majorities in both houses now, it is more likely for Republicans to be facing each other in primaries than Democrats.