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Longtime Az lawmaker Frank Pratt dead at 79; Ducey orders flags to half-staff

Frank Pratt, a Republican state representative from Casa Grande, died Tuesday. He was 79 years old. Gov. Doug Ducey ordered that flags be flown at half-staff across Arizona on Wednesday in his honor.

Pratt died after a "long illness," his family said. The LD 8 member of the state House had missed many days of this year's session of the Legislature.

Pratt was "an irreplaceable figure in the Arizona state Legislature," Speaker Rusty Bowers said.

He had served as a state lawmaker since 2009, first in the House and then in the state Senate before running again for a House seat in 2020 due to term limits.

The 8th Legislative District covers parts of Pinal and Gila counties. Pratt's seat will be filled by a Republican to be appointed by the Pinal County Board of Supervisors.

"Rep. Frank Pratt was a champion of rural Arizona," Ducey said in a news release. "He was a staunch supporter of economic development, an advocate for workforce training programs and someone who believed in the necessity of developing sound water policy. In both chambers of the Arizona Legislature, he was unwaveringly dedicated to serving the people of Arizona and expanding opportunities."

"He did it all — public servant, business owner, rancher, farmer and family man," the governor said. "He was one of the good guys, and we’re lucky he called Arizona home. Rep. Pratt was asked once why he went into politics. His answer was simple and straightforward: he said he was ‘just trying to make Arizona a better place.’"

Pratt received bipartisan praise Tuesday.

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Pratt "was a deeply respected member of our legislative family who loved this state with all his heart," House Democratic Leader Reginald Bolding said. "We may not have always agreed, but he was never once disagreeable. He loved his work for his constituents and always showed up ready to work. And although he was not vocal, when he spoke, his words carried weight. I will personally miss our conversations on the House floor, and our caucus will all miss the presence of a class act who never put partisanship in front of relationships. We send our deepest condolences to Rep. Pratt's family and loved ones."

"He was a class act," said state Sen. Martin Quezada, a Democrat who served with Pratt in both chambers of the Legislature.

"He served the state honorably- Not only are our prayers with him and his family – but our service to them if needed is as well. Thank you Frank for all that you did and accomplished for our great state," said Rep. David Cook, a Republican who holds the other state House seat in LD 8.

Pratt survived an attack that put him in the hospital in 2010, which he was tied up and beaten at his business on Christmas Day and found hours later by his wife. The attacker stole Pratt's vehicle and Rolex watch.

Pratt was known as a staunch conservative if a quiet member of the Legislature. He notably joined nine other Republicans in breaking with the rest of his party in the Legislature to vote with the Democratic caucus in passing the expansion of Medicaid in Arizona in 2013, giving Republican Gov. Jan Brewer a major victory that split her party.

Despite being considered a swing vote on some issues, he had a 100-percent rating from the right-wing Center for Arizona Policy.

Pratt first ran for the Legislature in 2004 and again in 2006, but lost both races to Democratic tickets that included Pete Rios. After Rios left the state House, Pratt was successful in the 20089 election, splitting the district with Democrat Rep. Barbara McGuire.

"Frank was a sincere, low-key and effective legislator," Rios said. "May he rest in peace; he will be missed."

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Gage Skidmore

Frank Pratt in 2017.