A state senator just re-elected to a new two-year term said Monday he may not take office with his colleagues in January to keep alive his chances of becoming secretary of state.
When Secretary of State Jan Brewer becomes governor next year after incumbent Janet Napolitano finally quits, one of her first duties will be to choose her replacement.
State law gives Brewer wide latitude in her choice. There is no panel to screen applicants. Nor is there a requirement for her choice to be confirmed by the state Senate.
In fact, the only requirement is that her appointee be a Republican.
But the Arizona Constitution prohibits lawmakers from taking any other state or local office or even being a government employee “during the term for which he shall have been elected or appointed.’’ The provision precludes legislators from creating a new job and then quitting to take it.
It also means, however, that no one who is a sitting legislator when Brewer becomes governor can be appointed secretary of state.
That creates problems for Sen. Jack Harper, R-Surprise. He already had announced his intent to run for secretary of state in 2010, when Brewer would not have been able to seek a third term.
Whoever Brewer names to replace her, however, could seek a full four-year term at that point. And that could undermine Harper’s plans.
“I am contemplating not taking the oath on opening day,’’ Harper told Capitol Media Services. That would make him eligible for appointment whenever Napolitano quits, Brewer becomes governor and she has to appoint a replacement, something that would not occur until after the new legislative term begins Jan. 12.
Harper said he wants to talk to Brewer about her plans to fill the job before deciding what to do. If Harper does not take office, it will be up to the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors to name a replacement to serve for the entire two-year term.