Why Shadegg Changed His Mind

At the urging of House Republican colleagues as well as friends and supporters back in Arizona’s 3rd District (suburban) Phoenix, Rep. John Shadegg decided last night to change his mind and run for re-election this year.  However, as the seven-term lawmaker told me shortly after reversing an earlier decision to step down, the turning point was a discussion with his wife Shirley.

Since making his surprise announcement that he would not seek re-election a week ago, the 58-year-old Shadegg has been besieged by admirers to stay and fight.  In a year when 29 GOP House Members have announced they are either resigning or retiring, this movement to get the Arizonan  to change his mind was unprecedented.

By mid-Friday, February 15th, a letter urging Shadegg to change his mind launched by Rep. Mike Pence (R.-Ind) had collected signatures from more than 140 GOP House Members.   Later that day, Heritage Foundation President Ed Feulner had a draft of a letter in which he and fellow national conservative leaders urged Shadegg to change course.  By the following Tuesday, 28 conservative leaders had signed the letter.  Back in the 3rd District, State GOP Chairman and Shadegg constituent Randy Pullen told me “We’re all saying ‘Run, John, Run.’”

Recalling his late father, onetime Barry Goldwater campaign quarterback and State GOP Chairman Steve Shadegg, the congressman told me: “When you grow up in a household in which Barry Goldwater and [the late Republican Sen.] Paul Fannin are always dropping by, and you suddenly fly off to help [Nevada’s] Paul Laxalt in a difficult Senate race, freedom runs deep in our blood.”  He also described the encouragement to stay in Congress as “rather stunning.”

But it was a conversation with wife Shirley, a kindergarten teacher, two mornings before he officially announced he was running that convinced Shadegg to stay.  As he put it, ‘As I was dropping her off, Shirley said ‘You’re not comfortable with this.’  When I told her she was right, she said, ‘then run again.’”  He is.