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The Arizona Republic newspaper in Phoenix. (Photo: Harrison Keely)

Austin Smith Needles AZCentral Reporter Laurie Roberts

Republic Runs Unneeded Correction over CD8 residency

By Ken Kurson, October 18, 2023 7:03 pm

The shocking retirement of Rep Debbie Lesko in CD8 has set off a frenzy of speculation about who might be interested in the safe red seat.

Writing in the Arizona Republic this afternoon, Laurie Roberts rounded up who might be interested in pursuing Lesko’s seat.

She mentioned House Speaker Ben Toma, Treasurer Kimberly Yee, Peoria mayor Jason Beck, 2022 Senate candidate Blake Masters, former lawmaker Phil Lovas, ex-Gov. Jan Brewer, and of course, the sole declared candidate, Abraham Hamadeh.

But there’s a weird correction in her story. At the top, a note reads: This column was edited to remove Rep. Austin Smith from the list of candidates to watch. Smith lives in an adjoining congressional district and says he has no interest in moving to run in CD8.”

Perhaps this note was triggered by Smith himself, who tweeted “I’m very humbled regarding the calls and text inquiries about running for CD8, even liberal hack Laurie Roberts mentioned me in her article as a potential candidate. I live in CD9 FYI. I am proud of my great Congressman Paul Gosar who has been a phenomenal friend and mentor.”

I don’t know that name-calling is helpful here, but Roberts is wrong on the facts. The fact that Smith does not live in CD8 does not disqualify him from running for Congress in CD8. Smith seems to be indicating in his tweet that a representative ought to live among the people he represents. That’s a noble assertion. But it’s not a requirement, as Roberts asserts.

In 2017, the Washington Post ran an article detailing 21 members of the house who lived outside their districts. In fact, in 2014, the Republic ran a story about a candidate running in the fourth CD while living in the first. His name? Paul Gosar.

According to the Constitution of the United States, to be elected to the House of Representatives, a candidate must be at least 25 years old, a United States citizen for at least seven years, and an inhabitant of the state he represents. That’s it. States have from time to time tried to insert other qualifications, but they have routinely been found unconstitutional.

So Austin Smith — just like any other 25 year old Arizonan—is free to run for Congress in CD8. That doesn’t mean they ought to, only that they can.

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