A state Senate candidate has filed an appeal with the Arizona Supreme Court over the eligibility of an ousted lawmaker to run for office
PHOENIX (AP) — A state Senate candidate filed a legal challenge Tuesday with the Arizona Supreme Court, contesting a lower court ruling that allows an ousted legislator to run for office again. The legislator, Don Shooter, was the first state lawmaker in the U.S. to be ousted over sexual misconduct allegations since the rise of the #MeToo movement.
A Maricopa County Superior Court judge ruled last week that Shooter can run for the Arizona Senate because he’s still a resident of the district he wants to represent.
Brent Backus is running in the Aug. 28 Republican primary for the state Senate in Legislative District 13 along with Shooter.
Backus, a businessman, filed a lawsuit Tuesday saying Shooter couldn’t run for the seat because he doesn’t live at the Yuma address he claims. Shooter previously served in the Arizona House and represented a district that includes parts of Yuma and Phoenix.
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The state House voted 56-3 in February to expel Shooter after investigators concluded he sexually harassed at least seven women, including fellow lawmakers.
Shooter has apologized for what he called insensitive comments involving women but said he never sought to touch anyone or have a sexual relationship.
The Supreme Court will decide the issue by July 5.
Shooter has filed more than 800 signatures to qualify for the primary election ballot in the southwestern Arizona district.
In her ruling last Friday, Judge Rosa Mroz ruled that Shooter has treated his Yuma apartment as his primary residence in the five years that he’s lived there. Mroz noted that Shooter lists the home on his driver’s license and tax returns and he also receives mail and visitors at the residence.
Shooter testified that he still lives in the condo in Yuma and his wife lives at a house in Phoenix, where he would stay during legislative sessions.
Backus’ attorney Tim La Sota introduced evidence showing Shooter’s voter registration had been switched to the Phoenix address for two weeks, but Shooter denied making the change. La Sota also said the power had been shut off in Shooter’s Yuma condo, and he has spent most of his time in Phoenix since the expulsion by the House.
Other candidates seeking the district’s Senate seat are Republican Sen. Sine Kerr, a dairy farmer who was appointed to fill the seat, Republican Royce Jenkins, and Democrat Michelle Harris.