Shadegg Out, Everyone Else In

It really was no surprise when Rep. John Shadegg (R.-Ariz.) announced yesterday that he would not seek re-election.  Two years ago, the conservative stalwart (lifetime American Conservative Union rating: 98%) and former chairman of the House Republican Study Committee had announced his retirement, only to have scores of his Republican colleagues promptly implore the son of the late State GOP Chairman and Goldwater intimate Steve Shadegg to reconsider.  John Shadegg did, changed his mind, ran again and won.  But no sooner was the ink dry on his certificate of election than speculation mounted that Shadegg would say enough is enough in 2010. 

At age 60 and after 16 years in Congress, Shadegg has now done  just that.  Now speculation is rampant over who will succeed him in Arizona’s 3rd District.  At this point, there are only two things that can be said with certainty about the now-open House race: One, that the winner of the Republican primary will retain the suburban Phoenix district in November and two, that just about every well-known Republican in the district will seek the GOP nomination.

The newly-open district could well attract two of the four Republicans already running against GOP Gov. Jan Brewer in the primary this fall.  One has near-universal name recognition: State Treasurer Dean Martin, who has heard just about every conceivable joke about crooning romantic songs between Scotch and cigarettes.  Martin (who is not related to the late singer ) is a conservative who has twice won statewide office. 

Another 3rd District Republican running for governor who could easily switch from the gubernatorial race to the congressional is Paradise Valley Mayor Vernon Parker.  One of the most high-profile Arizona Republicans, Parker, who is African-American, is also an attorney who was assistant secretary of Agriculture under George W. Bush. 

Days after Barack Obama’s inauguration a year ago, Parker joined me for breakfast at the Intercontinental Hotel in Scottsdale (where Obama himself would stay during a trip to Arizona a few weeks later) and freely discussed running for a higher office some day.  With key contacts throughout Arizona and nationwide, Parker would definitely be a strong candidate if he switched his sights from governor to Congress. 

Sean Noble, onetime top aide to Shadegg and now a Phoenix-area political consultant, is getting mention as a candidate just as in ’08 after his old boss first said he was retiring.  Several legislators within the 3rd District are also reportedly eyeing the race:  State Senators Pamela Gorman and Jim Warring and State Rep. Sam Crump. 

Any of them—the legislators, Noble, Parker or Martin—would be likely to vote in the same good-as-Goldwater fashion as Shadegg. 

As to what John Shadegg will do next, no one knows.  But few who know him believe that someone who grew up in a home where Barry Goldwater, the late Gov. and Sen. Paul Fannin and other players in the early conservative movement will simply practice law and fade away. 

Shadegg almost said as much in his retirement statement, when he vowed to “continue to remain in the fight for freedom and [to] defend American exceptionalism.”