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10 May 2016News

State Rep. Justin Olson to run for Congress against fellow state lawmaker

State Rep. Justin Olson, R-Mesa, will run for Congress against Arizona Senate President Andy Biggs, he told The Arizona Republic in an exclusive interview Wednesday.

Olson’s decision to enter the race sets up a pitched GOP battle in the East Valley for the seat being vacated by Republican U.S. Rep. Matt Salmon.

Numerous Republicans have considered running since the congressman’s retirement announcement two weeks ago, but none have jumped in.

Olson, a tax analyst who has served in the Legislature for five years, said he offers an alternative to the establishment pick.

“This perspective of the insiders determining who’s going to be the next congressman, I think it turns off voters,” said Olson, 39. “I’ve been a citizen legislator. I’ve held a full-time job the entire time that I’ve served. … (I’m) grounded in what the average, ordinary, regular folks have to go through from day to day, which is we have to make ends meet. We have to raise a family. We have to earn a paycheck and put food on the table.”

Olson’s comments are a dig at the arrangement Salmon made with Biggs to run to replace him in the 5th District, as well as Biggs’ independent wealth and 13 years in the Legislature.