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Newman drops out of Corporation Commission race

Paul Newman, acknowledging that he's falling short in collecting nominating signatures, announced that he's dropping his bid to return to the Arizona Corporation Commission.

Newman, who had been scheduled to take part in a debate with other Democratic primary candidates in Green Valley on Sunday, had circulated word that he was preparing to withdraw from the race.

"I wasn't going to run again, but I'm very enthused about the proposition ... to increase the renewable energy standard threefold to 50 percent," Newman told the audience of about 100 people at the forum. "This would be fantastic for jobs in Arizona."

Newman was steamed that the organizers of the forum, the group alliance4action, and this reporter, who served as the moderator, asked him to not take part in the candidate discussion because he won't be appearing on the ballot this August.

However, I and Dan Shearer, the editor of the Green Valley News (who introduced the event), proposed that Newman be allotted two minutes at the beginning to speak to the crowd and publicly announce his withdrawal.

Newman — who was the only Southern Arizona candidate in the Democratic primary field — had told others, and confirmed to me and Shearer as well as the forum organizers, that he won't be filing his nominating petitions this year.

But, "I will be running to win this energy battle in what is going to be a two-election cycle," Newman told the audience with tears in his eyes. The Democrat, who served on the Corporation Commission from 2009 to 2013, said he would run again in the 2020 presidential election cycle.

The ACC regulates utilities and overseas corporations in the state — including setting renewable energy standards for electricity producers. Voters in August's partisan primaries will be able to cast ballots for up to two candidates for the commission.

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That pair of seats, with four-year terms, on what is one of Arizona's most powerful elected bodies are up for a vote this November. The other three seats will be up for election in two years. All of the seats on the ACC are now held by Republicans.

Jake Bell, a business analyst and social justice activist who co-founded the Phoenix chapter of Democratic Socialists of America, also dropped his campaign for an ACC seat last week.

That leaves three primary candidates on the Democratic side, each with Corporation Commission experience: Sandra Kennedy served on the ACC from 2009-2013, Bill Mundell served on the ACC from 1999-2008, and Kiana Sears has worked for the commission's legislative staff, most recently serving as an ACC utility analyst.

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Paul Ingram/TucsonSentinel.com

Paul Newman announces his withdrawal from the Corporation Commission race.