The resignation of State Representative David Stringer resulted in today’s meeting of Yavapai County Precinct Committeemen, for the purpose of nominating three candidates to fill his vacant seat. The three names will be sent to the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors who will select one name for appointment.
The three names advanced by the PCs were Steve Pierce, Steven Sensmeier, and Ken Bennett.
A total of 12 were nominated from the floor with one (Chris Campbell) declining the nomination, leaving 11 to run. Each candidate gave speeches and after the first round of voting, only Steve Pierce had enough votes to secure a nomination. Pierce had 71 of the 117 votes cast (candidates needed 50% +1 to be nominated, or 59 on the first ballot). Ken Bennett was 2nd with 54, Sensmeier was 3rd with 51, and conservative Chris Kuknyo had 46. Of note, 2018 candidate Jodi Rooney finished far behind with just 13 votes.
The second round of ballots saw Sensmeier leapfrog Bennett and snag the votes needed to be nominated. Bennett again finished short of the 50% +1 mark, grabbing 55 when he needed 57. Each round drops the lowest vote-getter, yet the third round saw everyone fall short of the 50% +1 yet again. In the 4th round, Bennett finally snagged enough votes to earn the third and final spot.
No one reached the 50. % plus 1 threshold to secure the 3 rd spot On to the 4 th round of voting. Chairman Ward is asking anyone below the bottom line to remove their name
— Karen Fann (@FannKfann) April 1, 2019
The selection is expected to be Steve Pierce as he has the support of Senate President Karen Fann and several of the Supervisors have already endorsed him as the “wise choice.” Pierce has promised not to seek re-election, which means LD1 will see another open seat race in 2020.
Fann has already promised two moderate candidates will challenge Noel Campbell should he run for re-election and run for the second open seat. At this time it is uncertain who conservatives will rally behind. In spite of Yavapai County’s deep red voter registration advantage, it has long elected more liberal Republicans like Tom O’Halleran, Lucy Mason, Steve Pierce, Karen Fann, and Andy Tobin. It is only recently that conservatives have had success in LD1 and those victories were expensive and hard fought.
The meeting was another reminder of how important Precinct Committeemen can be with the Democratic and Republican parties. Vacancies occur regularly for a variety of reasons and it is the PCs who narrow the field to three nominees for the replacement appointment.