Another opening at the Legislature: Aaron Lieberman resigns to focus on Democratic bid for governor

Ray Stern
Arizona Republic
“What we don’t have enough of are community spaces that bring us together,” said state Rep. Aaron Lieberman, D-Phoenix.

State Rep. Aaron Lieberman, D-Paradise Valley, has resigned from the Legislature to concentrate on his run for governor — the latest in a series of recent lawmaker departures.

Lieberman announced in June he'd enter the 2022 Democratic primary race for governor to compete with Nogales Mayor Marco López, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, and four other lesser known candidates.

In his resignation letter sent Monday to House Speaker Rusty Bowers, R-Mesa, and Minority Leader Reginald Bolding, D-Laveen, he praised the voters of District 28 and said he had kept a promise to avoid partisan politics since first elected in 2018.

"That is the spirit I brought to work at the Capitol every single day since I was elected — and that was the key to my success in helping move forward important policy priorities during my time in the legislature," he said in a written statement.

Other recent resignations at the state Legislature include Rep. Raquel Terán, D-Phoenix, who's leaving the House to replace Tony Navarrete in the Senate following his arrest on suspicion of child molestation; Sen. Kirsten Engel of Tucson, who will run for Congress in southern Arizona; and Rep. Bret Roberts, R-Maricopa, who announced he will leave the Legislature at the end of this month.

As with Navarrete, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors will appoint a new lawmaker to replace Lieberman from a group of several potential candidates, who must come from the same party as the departing lawmaker. The appointee will serve out the rest of Lieberman's two-year term. The Board also is expected to soon appoint a replacement for Terán.

Rep. Aaron Lieberman, D-Paradise Valley and Rep. Judy Schwiebert, D-Phoenix, look on during debate of HB 2898, a K-12 education bill, during the House Appropriations Committee hearing at the Arizona Capitol in Phoenix on May 25, 2021.

Lieberman won reelection in 2020 in the competitive Legislative District 28, which he first took in 2018 from Republican Maria Syms. Voters in the district, which includes the affluent Biltmore and Arcadia neighborhoods, Paradise Valley and parts of Sunnyslope, elected Democrat Christine Marsh as state Senator in 2020, turning the district fully blue. But the redistricting process that's expected to be complete by December could make the district more competitive and possibly tip the balance back to Republicans.

Raised in the Valley, Lieberman's a graduate of Yale University who founded the Jumpstart and Acelero Learning programs for children. He's also worked as CEO of the medical practice Phoenix Spine.

Nineteen Republicans have filed statements of interest for the governor job. Prominent candidates include former TV news anchor Kari Lake, former Congressman Matt Salmon, state Treasurer Kimberly Yee and former regent Karrin Taylor Robson.

Reach the reporter at rstern@arizonarepublic.com. Follow him on Twitter @raystern.