Arizona Supreme Court upholds Don Shooter's candidacy for AZ Senate
PHOENIX -- Don Shooter will get a chance to get back into the Arizona Legislature.
In an order Wednesday, the Arizona Supreme Court acknowledged there is evidence that Shooter does not live at the Yuma address he listed on his nominating papers. That includes mail being forwarded to the Phoenix home he co-owns with his wife, that property being listed as a "primary residence'' for tax purposes, and electricity being turned off at his Yuma apartment after he was ousted from the House at the end of January over sexual harassment charges.
But Justice Robert Brutinel, writing for the court, said there also is conflicting evidence showing that the Yuma apartment, while rented on a month-to-month basis, is his legal residence even if he was spending time in Phoenix. And what that means, Brutinel wrote, is that Shooter was -- and is -- a resident of Legislative District 13 and entitled to run as a Republican in his bid for state Senate.
Brutinel did acknowledged that, at least for two weeks, Shooter was registered to vote at the Phoenix address which is not within LD 13. Shooter's attorney argued to a trial judge that his client did not make that change, suggesting it may have been done online by a political foe.
But the justice said that he reestablished his registration back in Yuma County in two weeks, a place where he has voted since 2006. And that, Brutinel said "is strong proof that he resides in Yuma County.''
Brutinel also pointed out that state election laws define a resident as someone who has "actual physical presence'' in the affected community "combined with an intent to remain.'' What the law does not say, the justice pointed out, is how long someone actually has to be physically present.
He said Shooter was physically present in Yuma when he filed his nomination papers. And Brutinel said there is enough evidence that Shooter intends to remain in Yuma.
Wednesday's ruling is a political setback for Brent Backus who filed the legal challenge in hopes of narrowing the field. He, like Shooter, is hoping to be the Republican nominee for state Senate from the district that stretches from Yuma into the western Phoenix suburbs.
The result is that the Aug. 28 GOP primary will be a three-way contest. Sine Kerr, who was appointed to the seat earlier this year on the resignation of Steve Montenegro, also is in the running, seeking a full two-year term of her own.
Democrat Michelle Harris is the lone Democrat running in the heavily Republican district.
Residency issues now aside, Shooter faces other challenges, including the 56-3 vote earlier this year by the House of Representatives to oust him after concluding he was guilty of sexually harassing lawmakers, lobbyists and others.
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