PHOENIX (AP) — A Republican state senator who has occasionally been a thorn in the side of the majority party's legislative agenda will not seek reelection in 2022.
State Sen. Paul Boyer said this week that he will serve out the remaining year of his term and then move on to other pursuits. The Glendale lawmaker said opponents in his own party will need to put up with him for his remaining year in office, however, meaning he'll retain the ability to thwart some key initiatives the slim one-vote GOP majority failed to get past him in this year's legislative session.
One of Boyer's top moves was blocking Republican Senate President Karen Fann's effort to hold the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors in contempt. Fann wanted the board to immediately hand over ballots from the 2020 election under a subpoena so she could conduct an unprecedented partisan review of President Joe Biden's victory, but members balked, saying they could not legally hand over 2.1 million voted ballots.
She eventually won out and conducted a recount that found Biden beat former President Donald Trump.
Boyer's refusal to back Trump supporters as they sought the recount brought Boyer a slew of threats, and he briefly moved his family out of fear of violence in February. That “toxic” atmosphere both inside and outside the Capitol is one of the reasons Boyer decided to leave the Legislature after serving a decade.
Boyer's decision was previously reported by the Arizona Agenda political newsletter and the Arizona Republic. He said in an interview Wednesday that he considered not seeking reelection last year but went ahead, knowing he would not run again in 2022. And he said he’s glad he did seek reelection last year, if only because he was able to vote against the contempt resolution.
“God knows what would have happened if we jailed the Board of Supervisors for following the law,” Boyer said Wednesday.
He also blocked key parts of a budget deal GOP legislative leaders were pushing, withholding his vote until massive tax cuts in the budget were slimmed down to pay off more state debt and cities were assured stable revenue.
Boyer said the political atmosphere has changed in his years at the Capitol, and that includes inside the Republican caucus, where members have publicly and privately attacked him for votes he made. The GOP spills over onto the Democratic side of the Senate floor by one member, and Fann moved his desk to the blue side, where she used to sit.
“I’ve never seen it so toxic, and that’s more on a personal, member-to-member basis,” Boyer said. “It’s not just in closed caucus. It’s also publicly as well as social media, where members have to feel like they need to talk to the base and tell them that they’re a fighter and they’re fighting against the moderates or whatever they’re calling me these days.”
Boyer faced a tough Republican primary against Rep. Anthony Kern but said that he thought he could win if he put in the effort. Fann, in a break from tradition, recently headlined a Kern fundraiser.
“My heart wasn’t into it," he said.
Boyer's exit is one of many expected in the 90-member Legislature after the 2022 elections. Among those not returning will be Fann, who announced on Nov. 1 that she would not seek another term. GOP House Speaker Rusty Bowers is term-limited and said Wednesday that he is unlikely to make a run for a Senate seat.
Boyer, 44, said he's proud of what he's accomplished as a lawmaker after previously serving as a legislative staffer and at a state agency. He recently left a charter school teaching job and expects to soon begin teaching at a community college.
Among his accomplishments are a law ensuring police and firefighters who develop cancer are presumed to have contracted it through on the job exposures and his work to allow community colleges to award four-year degrees.
“I can leave and feel good about it at this point,” Boyer said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to do a certain amount of good that I could never do anywhere else.”
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