A group of Chandler and Ahwatukee Foothills political activists have abandoned their effort to recall Sen. John Huppenthal, R-Chandler.
Recall chairwoman Kim Andrade said in a written statement the group no longer sees a need to remove Huppenthal after Gov. Janet Napolitano vetoed a number of bills pushed by him and other Republican conservatives.
But Len Gutman, another recall organizer, admitted Monday the group also was struggling to collect enough voter signatures. Gutman said recall efforts had gathered about 5,000, when they needed to raise more than 16,400 by July 15.
"Time was running out, and quite honestly, the energy levels of the community waned once the governor vetoed all of those bills," Gutman said.
A legislative veteran, Huppenthal was elected to state Senate in November after defeating the incumbent, Slade Mead, in the Republican primary two months earlier. Huppenthal represents District 20, which covers Ahwatukee Foothills, western Chandler and southern Tempe.
Critics of Huppenthal launched a recall effort in mid-March, just after the board of the Kyrene Elementary School District decided to eliminate some elective classes to save money and to add more courses on math and reading to improve scores on Arizona’s Instrument to Measure Standards.
The recall committee claimed Huppenthal should be removed because he
didn’t support Napolitano’s plan to fund full-day kindergarten.
"They tried to take advantage of the controversy to overturn what was a pretty strong result in the last election," Huppenthal said Monday.
Andrade said she believes the recall attempt did affect Huppenthal’s style during the 2005 regular session, forcing him to support additional funding for public schools and to stay in the background on other issues he normally favors.
But Huppenthal said 2005 was one of the best sessions ever. Despite Napolitano’s record vetoes, the governor signed 20 measures sponsored by Huppenthal, and Republicans got her support on several key bills such as allowing married couples to donate more money to private-school tuition scholarship organizations.