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Allen picked to fill Flake seat in Az Senate

The Navajo County Board of Supervisors has chosen Sylvia Allen, a Republican Party activist and Snowflake real estate agent, to fill a state Senate vacancy created by the death of Republican Jake Flake.

The appointment of Allen as the midterm replacement was made by the board’s unanimous vote late Friday afternoon during a special meeting in Holbrook after the supervisors interviewed her and two other people recommended by a special citizens panel.

Meanwhile, at least a two-way competition was shaping up for the September primary election ballot spot also vacated by the death of Flake, who was running unopposed for re-election.

Allen and State Rep. Bill Konopnicki both indicated an interest in being picked by Republican precinct committee members from Legislative District 5 to be the new Senate candidate, said Brett Mecum, state Republican Party political director.

The precinct committee members meet Saturday in Globe.

Allen, a longtime Republican Party activist who ran unsuccessfully for the Legislature in 2004, has held leadership posts with the social-conservative Arizona Eagle Forum. She is a former regional organizer for People for the West, an advocacy group on natural resources, property rights and other issues.

Her swearing-in Monday will return the Senate to its full 30 members.

The 72-year-old Flake died Sunday, about two weeks after he fell from a horse and broke multiple ribs.

The other two people recommended to serve out the remaining seven months of Flake’s term were Show Low City Councilman Gerry Whipple and utility company manager Charlie Hendrickson.

State law required the midterm replacement to — like Flake — live in Legislative District 5 and Navajo County and be a Republican.

Konopnicki was not eligible to seek the midterm appointment to the Senate seat because state law required that the appointee be from the same county as Flake. Konopnicki is from Graham County.

Both Allen and Konopnicki had filed nominating petitions to run for the district’s two House seats, so the selection of either to replace Flake as the Senate candidate would require the precinct committee members to also pick a substitute House candidate, Mecum said.

Legislative District 5 sprawls across much of east-central Arizona, taking in all or parts of seven counties. The chief population centers include Globe, Safford, Payson, Show Low and Winslow.

Republicans and Democrats are nearly evenly matched in voter registration in the district, and it is regarded as competitive between the two parties.

Konopnicki, 63, is a three-term House member and chairman of the House Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee.

No Democrat filed to run in the Senate primary, and state party spokeswoman Emily DeRose said Friday that party officials hadn’t decided whether to field a write-in candidate because of the newly open seat.

The district’s other representative is Jack Brown, a St. Johns Democrat who said after Flake’s death that he expected to still run for re-election to the House.

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