New Leaders in AZ Senate...New Tone?

January 10, 2012

The state senate officially voted in a new president Monday.  The chamber’s Republican majority gave Steve Pierce the top job this fall…after former Senate President Russell Pearce lost his recall election.  KJZZ’s Mark Brodie reports on what that change could mean for the new session.

MARK BRODIE: Steve Pierce, no relation to Russell, had served as majority whip - counting, and rounding up votes for bills. He says he tries to have good relationships with colleagues on both sides of the aisle…an assertion backed up by Senate Democratic Leader David Schapira. 

DAVID SCHAPIRA: "He’s definitely open to ideas different than his own, which I think is a departure from the prior administration."

MARK BRODIE: Schapira last month said he’s optimistic about the new session, with Steve Pierce leading the Senate.  During a speech after officially being voted Senate President, Pierce put a cowboy boot on his desk, to symbolize the state’s history of working to solve problems.

STEVE PIERCE: "This is not the tough boot award, but it’s about bootstraps, and it’s about saying things are bad, things are tough. And it’s time to put your boots on, grab that bootstrap and pull it up and let’s get going."

MARK BRODIE: Policy-wise, Pierce has said he expects to continue the work started last year.  During an interview last month, he said there would be some changes from the prior president.

STEVE PIERCE: "We did a lot of good things in the last session, there were some good things that happened.  My difference would be, I want to get in here and go home, get my work done, go home, and I think I have the ability to do that, and I’m gonna try to put everybody together so we’re all in the same boat, rowing in the same direction."

MARK BRODIE: But there may be another difference.  Senate Democratic Leader David Schapira says Republicans might look at bills differently with Steve Pierce running the show, than they did with Russell Pearce.

DAVID SCHAPIRA: "A lot of folks on the other side of the aisle here at the capitol have either been like Russell Pearce or right in line with Russell Pearce, or afraid of being primaried by him.  And, I’m hopeful that those in the past who have been afraid to cross Russell Pearce or his allies will hopefully be less afraid."

MARK BRODIE: The state house also has a new leader since the end of the last regular session.  Andy Tobin became speaker this past spring, taking over for Kirk Adams, who resigned to run for Congress.  Both Tobin and Pierce are from the Prescott area.