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Mon, June 24

Tobin gets majority whip role in Legislature

Republicans in the Arizona House of Representatives chose Rep. Andy Tobin, R-Paulden, as majority whip Thursday.

Tobin just won re-election Tuesday to his second term.

As part of the party's leadership team, Tobin will be more directly involved in setting policy, negotiations over the budget, and meetings with the governor's office. The majority whip also helps gather together votes for the leadership, noted Kenton Jones, former Yavapai County Republican Party chair.

"Andy Tobin is probably as gifted a person to be a whip as anybody I know," Jones said. "He's a guy who is tough to say no to."

House majority Republicans also elected a new speaker, a relatively junior lawmaker who vows to instill new transparency in legislative work on the state budget.

Rep. Kirk Adams, a 35-year-old Mesa resident who some consider a rising star in the ranks of Republican lawmakers, defeated incumbent Speaker Jim Weiers as speaker in closed-door voting by new and returning House Republicans.

"I think there is a lot more experience than what one might expect from a new crop," said Tobin - especially business experience. "And I think Arizona is ready for change."

Tobin agreed that budget work needs to be more open for legislators and the public, not just leadership.

Adams and Tobin will serve as speakers for the next two years, starting in January when the new Legislature takes office.

Current Majority Whip John McComish of Phoenix will be the new majority leader. The current majority leader, Tom Boone, did not run for the post again.

Adams' elevation culminated elections by party caucuses that resulted in new leaders being selected for all four legislative caucuses.

Minority Democrats on Monday also ousted their current leader and replaced him with a more junior one, while the Senate's caucuses chose new leaders to replaces ones who are departing because of term limits.

With Weiers' long tenure in top leadership positions, his ouster appeared to be a product of many Republicans' frustration with Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano's ability to win approval of state budgets that many GOP conservatives regard as fiscally imprudent.

The state's $9.9 billion budget now faces a shortfall estimated at $1.2 billion or more.

Like the Senate president, the House speaker wields clout by virtue of his selection of committee chairmen and the ability to schedule bills for consideration.

Also Thursday, the Arizona Senate's Democratic minority chose Sen. Jorge Garcia of Tucson as its new leader. Garcia replaces Sen. Marsha Arzberger of Willcox as the Senate minority leader. Term limits barred her from running for re-election.

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