Franks is gone, leaving a monkey wrench into a special election

By Howard Fischer | Capitol Media Services

A quirk in state law could force top contenders to replace Trent Franks to choose between a run for Congress and keeping their current jobs in the Legislature.

Gov. Doug Ducey is expected to announce Monday the date for the primary election for those who want to vie for the now-open post in Congressional District 8. That can be between Feb. 26 and March 8.

But by law, the deadline to submit nominating petitions will be Jan. 10. And that’s what creates the dilemma for sitting lawmakers.

A 1980 voter-approved law says no current elected official can offer himself or herself for nomination to any local, state or federal office “except during the final year of the term being served.”

But here’s the thing: Unlike other elected officials who tenure runs through the end of the calendar year for which they are elected, legislators have terms that run through the second Monday in January of odd-numbered years. That’s when their successors take office.

For current lawmakers, that’s Jan. 14, 2019.

And what that likely means is any nominating petitions submitted before Jan. 14, 2018 would trigger the resign-to-run law, forcing incumbent legislators to decide whether they’re willing to give up their seats for the possibility of becoming the newest member of the Arizona congressional delegation.

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