Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Shadegg caves to blogger criticism, announces retirement*

* = OK, his announcement probably has absolutely nothing to do with some of the recent criticisms that I've directed at him (here, here, and here).

It was still fun to write that headline. :))

On to the story, with a little bit of wild speculation added...

From the Arizona Republic -
Arizona Rep. Shadegg won't seek re-election to Congress

WASHINGTON - Saying he never intended to be a professional politician, Arizona Rep. John Shadegg announced Monday that he will not seek re-election to an eighth term in Congress.

Shadegg, who just weeks ago spoke confidently about his ability to win another term, said his decision was a personal one and was not spurred by concerns over his health or fear that he could lose his seat in November.

“The bottom line is that this is a personal decision between my family and me, about our dreams, goals, and ambitions,” he said in a statement.

Stacy at Arizona Congress Watch has the entire statement.

While speculation as to Shadegg's motivation for this announcement in the AZ blogosphere has run the gamut from "the ethics questions" (funnelling $10K from his leadership PAC to his campaign coffers) to "After 14 years in the Congress he's tired; too tired to keep dealing with being part of the minority caucus."

Others take a more practical view, wondering if Shadegg's move is a coordinated gambit with John McCain, with McCain resigning from his Senate seat and Shadegg running for that in the fall.

[Start wild speculation]

I'm leaning that way, just because it makes too much sense tactically -

1. Resigning from the Senate allows McCain to focus on running for President while the Democratic nominee (either Obama or Clinton) still has to jump off of the campaign trail to return to work. It also silences those (like me!) who have criticized McCain for all of the votes that he has missed.

2. By resigning now, it forces an election for the Senate seat on the fall ballot. If John McCain vacated his seat after winning the Presidency, that would give whoever Governor Napolitano appointed to the position two years to settle into the job, and while she would have to select a Republican, you can bet that one person she wouldn't select would be McCain's personally-annointed successor. This move would stop a Republican who is less partisan or more constituent-oriented than Shadegg from settling into the Senate seat and frustrating Republican Party "movers and shakers" (aka - insider wingnuts) in their efforts to get one of their own in the slot.

3. Shadegg is already perfectly positioned for a short campaign for Senate - he's got high name recognition, and nearly a million dollars in the bank already. No Republican or Democrat is set up for a statewide race this cycle.

Ways that this could hurt the Arizona Republicans:

1. The CD3 seat is now an 'open' one. Given the Rep registration advantage in the district (~50K), even in the face of Bob Lord's strong challenge, Shadegg was likely to retain his seat. Now it's all up in the air. While it's still early in the year, Lord has his campaign up and running smoothly; Republican candidates will be scrambling to put something together.

2. The names of a number of sitting state legislators have been floated as possible successors, including State Rep. Jim Weiers (speaker of the AZ House) and State Sen. Jim Waring.

The Republicans are faced with trying to retain control of the state lege in the face of voters' growing disenchantment with the way that the Reps have been doing things and in the face of a shrinking registration advantage. Their efforts at playing defense will be boosted by the presence of John McCain at the top of the ticket (higher Rep turnout to support their 'favorite son'). However, those same efforts will be undermined if a number of their legislative veterans pass on lege races to focus on a shot at moving up. Their bench strength will be sorely tested by having to defend an unexpectedly high number of open seats.

Note: I hope Weiers goes for it - even the worst case scenario for Democrats is an improvement for the state. If he goes for the CD3 seat, the best that can happen for him is that he wins the seat and goes from being a big fish in a small pond (Speaker of the AZ House) to being a small fish in a big pond (junior member of the minority caucus in the U.S. House.) And win or lose, if he goes for it, he's out of the AZ House and the state budget becomes that much easier to balance without his obstructionism.

Solving a second state budget crisis would give Governor Napolitano a huge boost in her (expected) run for the seat currently held by McCain in 2010.

Other speculation -

Of course, speculation that this is part of a coordinated move with McCain can only be fueled by the amount of time that Shadegg has spent campaigning for McCain, especially in South Carolina. Shadegg is one of the (many!) reasons that the McCain presidential campaign has been resurrected, going from "DOA" last year to "presumptive nominee" this year.

Another sign that this move may have been in the works for a while - at one point (many months ago), Sean Noble, Shadegg's chief of staff and likely candidate to replace Shadegg, was rumored to be interested in running against Democrat Harry Mitchell in CD5. Without much fanfare at the time, he declined to run in CD5. Could this plan have been simmering even then? Let's face facts - Shadegg will support Noble in any primary. In CD5, that wouldn't mean much; in CD3, it could put Noble over the top.

[End wild speculation]

Politicker AZ has all sorts of coverage of this at their site.

Greg at Espresso Pundit has an open thread for speculation on which Reps will run for Shadegg's seat here.

Tony C. at Wactivist has a speculation thread here; this one concerns the likelihood of Shadegg running for John McCain's U.S. Senate seat in the event of his resignation in order to focus on his campaign for President.

Most other AZ blogs (Dem and Rep) have something on this story (hey - it *is* the biggest news of the AZ campaign season thus far.)

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