ELECTIONS

Rep. Diego Rodriguez, running for Arizona attorney general, resigns from Legislature

State Rep. Diego Rodriguez
Ray Stern
Arizona Republic

Rep. Diego Rodriguez, a progressive Democrat running for Arizona attorney general, announced Friday that he would resign from the state Legislature effective next week.

"It has been a great privilege and honor to serve the constituents of LD 27 for the past three sessions," said Rodriguez, who was first elected to the House in 2018. His district covers Laveen, parts of south Phoenix, and Guadalupe. "Thank you for the opportunity to serve my community and the state of Arizona."

Rodriguez didn't immediately return a call seeking comment.

A private attorney and former Pima County prosecutor, Rodriguez announced his bid for attorney general in June, saying he would use his experience "to stand up to corporate interests, help Arizona’s hardworking families get back on their feet, protect our most vulnerable citizens, and bring real change to our criminal justice system."

Three Democrats so far are running for attorney general in 2022, along with a longer list of Republican candidates. The deadline for candidates to file is early April.  

Focus on criminal justice reform

Rodriguez has made criminal justice reform a focus of his political career, sponsoring bills this year to loosen penalties in certain property theft cases and for repeat offenders.

A University of Notre Dame graduate who's been in the state since 1992, Rodriguez burst onto the local political scene in 2016 to challenge then-Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery with the help of billionaire George Soros. Montgomery won 53% to 47% and went on to become a state Supreme Court justice. But Rodriguez used his momentum to win a seat in his Democratic-friendly district two years later.

When his resignation takes effect on Nov. 17, he will become the latest in a long line of state lawmakers to leave this year. As The Republic reported on Nov. 9, one legislator, Frank Pratt, died this year, and another 10 legislators have quit their positions for a variety of reasons. Replacements have been chosen for seven of them.

Many legislative departures

Rodriguez likely won't be the last to leave this year, either. Eight other Senate or House members have announced plans to run for another office.

Arizona law doesn't require the candidates to resign while they run, but some could resign before or during the 2022 legislative session to focus on their campaigns.

Reach the reporter at rstern@arizonarepublic.com or 480-276-3237. Follow him on Twitter @raystern.

Subscribe to azcentral.com today.