Recalled Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce found himself facing a Republican primary battle even before he announced his re-election bid.
But it isn’t incumbent Sen. Rich Crandall, who currently represents the east Mesa legislative District 25.
Pearce will instead face Bob Worsley, a businessman who founded the SkyMall in-flight catalog and an energy business.
Worsley announced his candidacy in writing hours before Pearce launched his bid. He has not held office but is politically active as a member of Mitt Romney’s Arizona finance committee.
Worsley’s entry initially set the stage for a three-way primary race between Pearce and Crandall.
But as Pearce made his announcement, Crandall said — via Twitter — that he and his campaign organization would support Worsley. Tuesday he wrote, “Phone is ringing off the hook this morning with Mesa who’s who wanting to endorse Bob Worsley. Offering funds and support!”
Worsley describes himself as a conservative businessman and said in a statement he is active in the Mormon church and the Boy Scouts of America. He vowed to support policies that promote religious freedom, stronger families and limited government.
Worsley didn’t mention immigration in his announcement to challenge Pearce, the author of SB 1070 and other immigration bills who has spoken of an “invasion.”
But his past suggests a different viewpoint than Pearce.
Worsley is the president of a 150-member Hispanic branch at his Mormon church, and his profile on Mormon.org fondly describes his two-year mission to Uruguay and Paraguay in the 1970s.
“I grew to love and appreciate the cultures south of the border,” Worsley wrote. “I am honored to serve with great men and women from Peru, Mexico, Argentina and other Latin American countries. We are all God’s children. We are all immigrants to this great country.”
Worsley said in a statement that several business and civic leaders approached him to run for office.
“I have never planned to run for office but my wife and I wish to serve our community at this stage of our lives,” he added. “Arizona faces many challenges and I believe my past experience as an entrepreneur, a former CPA and cost cutter, is exactly what we need in politics right now. I hope to serve the citizens of Mesa in the Senate because I believe if we work together, we can elevate our politics, strengthen our economy, and prepare Mesa and Arizona for the next phase of growth and achievement.”
Worsley has lived in the East Valley 25 years. He is married to Christi, has six children and 16 grandchildren.
He has an accounting degree from Brigham Young University and worked as a certified public accountant for Price Waterhouse.
He founded SkyMall in 1989. He sold it in 2001 to Rupert Murdoch’s NewsCorp. After selling SkyMall, he worked to acquire property for the New Mexico and Arizona Land Company. The company has uranium, travertine, cattle, and land holdings, and is looking to develop water, oil, gas, coal and other resources.
He is the chairman of Renegy Holdings, which owns a biomass power facility near Snowflake. He also founded NZ Legacy, a land and mineral company.
A Worsley spokesman said the candidate was still forming his organization and would likely wait several days to begin granting interviews.
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